This is one of many historical sites along the Oregon Trail, and amongst my favorite!
It sits at a rest area on RT. 220 about one hour from Casper WY and about 1-2 miles from Devil's Gates (another stop work checking out). Independence Rock is a large granite rock 130 ft high, 1900 ft long and 850 ft wide. It's located near the Granite Mountains
It was a well known landmark on the Oregon/California emigrant trail. The rock's name is derived from wagon parties the left from the Missouri River area in the spring would try to reach the rock by July 4th in order to reach their destinations before the first snowfall.
A sidewalk form the rest area will take you through a few historical plaques, stop and read them; it gives you a sense of what the pioneers went through on their journeys.
As you depart from the gate and cross a small bridge there is a white stick marking a point on the Oregon Trail. It’s hard to believe that was once a major historical “highway”.
The sidewalk leads you to a gate, that’s where the gravel path begins; it’s also where there are a few visible names. If you take the gravel path to the left and follow around where the rock faces the road you will see an area historically dedicated and protected by a chain link fence (for good reason, too many people climb the rock, vandalize it and make their own carvings desecrating it for the rest of us to appreciate).
If you’re like me and like to explore and go off the beaten path you can walk around the entire rock. BEWARE the path turns to dirt and isn’t well maintained, there are many parts with calf high grass and there have been reports of rattlesnakes…and there are no close hospitals. So Look & Listen! I leisurely walked the entire circumference of the rock and stopped to take pictures along the way and it took me about 1 hour. It is not a strenuous walk, it’s flat. If you Must get close to the rock, keep in mind the grasses along the rock are not maintained and are knee high in places.
Along the back side facing the mountains is where I found the names to be very clearly carved and they showed up better in my photos (also the sign hitting the back of the rock makes for a nice picture).
It’s fascinating that this piece of history still has most of the names visible. . It’s amazing to see the history that is carved in stone. The rest area is nice and clean, plenty of parking and there is a picnic area. Even back then this was a rest area along the Oregon Trail.
It’s definitely worth stopping for!
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