Wind River Mountains Oil Painting

Wyoming Cities, Climate and Sights

The US state of Wyoming is located in the western United States in the Rocky Mountains region. The name comes from the Algonquin Indians and means “large, flat area”. Wyoming is bordered by Montana to the north, South Dakota and Nebraska to the east, Colorado to the south, and Utah and Idaho to the west. The largest town and at the same time the capital is Cheyenne with 60,000 inhabitants at 1848 meters. The highest point is Gannett Peak at 4,207 m. The nickname comes from the state motto and is “Equality State”, i.e. “equal rights for all”.

  • Liuxers: List of Federal school codes for educational institutions located in Wyoming. Includes FAFSA codes in the state of Wyoming.

The US state of Wyoming

Wind River Mountains Oil Painting

Wind River Mountains Oil Painting

With its 253,336 km² Wyoming is the tenth largest state in the USA in terms of area and thus about half the size of Spain. At 2044 m, it is also the second highest average state in the USA after Colorado. It is located in the western center of the US state and is therefore part of the so-called legendary (Wild) West (hence the nickname Cowboy State ) due to its location (as well as its culture ). Wikipedia writes an extraordinary amount about this state, which we don’t want to withhold from you:

Wyoming, along with its southern and western neighbors Colorado and Utah, is one of the states whose borders are defined solely by longitude and latitude. The demarcation corresponds to a rectangle.

Essentially, Wyoming is a vast, broken plateau from which rise various ridges of the Rocky Mountains. Seen from a cross-sectional perspective, this plateau is at an incline, transitioning from a higher west to a lower east. This inclination also describes the transition from the far eastern plains of the prairies via central basin landscapes to the rocky mountains to the west. Wyoming is a state that combines the great cultural landscapes of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains – a position it shares with only three of the 50 other states: Montana to the north, and Colorado and New Mexico to the south.

Another geographical significance is Wyoming’s location on the Great Continental Divide, the great continental divide of the North American continent, which runs through the state area in a northwest-southeast direction. It runs along the Absaroka Range and Wind River Ranges and continues into the Great Divide Basin and later the Park Range (largely in Colorado). All rivers originating east of this line drain east and all eventually join the Missouri River, which flows into the MississippiRiver and finally flows into the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico). Those rivers that begin west of the Continental Divide end in the Pacific (either in the open ocean if they follow the Columbia River westward, or in the Gulf of California if they drain south into the Green River and later the Colorado River).

Wyoming can be divided into three major geographic areas, each roughly one-third of the state’s territory: the Great Plains, the Intermountain Basins, and the Rocky Mountains.

Great Plains

The Great Plains

Eastern Wyoming is occupied by the Great Plains, expansive prairies that stretch from southern Canada through the center of the United States and down to the Mexican border, forming a major cultural landscape known throughout the world.

Wyoming’s prairies are characterized on the one hand by completely flat stretches of land, but on the other hand by the predominance of gently rolling hills. The majority of this area is characterized by short grass overgrown, largely treeless steppe landscapes, which are only on the rivers z. T. are interspersed with poplars and bushes. Farming (preferably wheat) is hardly possible in these windy, dry expanses, instead extensive grazing is practiced.

On the prairie in northeastern Wyoming, the Belle Fourche River is the deepest point in the entire state at 3,000 feet (945 m). In Wyoming, the archipelago, partly densely covered with ponderosa pines, reaches heights of just over 2000 m and is home to a well-known natural landmark: Devils Tower National Monument, a monumental volcanic monolith that towers 386 m above the Belle Fourche River and is 1558 m high reached. This mountain is sacred to the Sioux and Cheyenne and also to other First Nations and bears the name Mato Tipila (hut of the bear) in Lakota.

Rocky Mountains

Mainly in the north-west of the state and partly also in the south-east there are huge mountain ranges, all of which are part of the Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountains in Wyoming split into distinct ridges, usually running north-south or northwest-southeast. The Bighorn and Laramie Mountains limit the prairies and mark the transition to extensive basin landscapes that are framed by the mountain ranges.

The Wind River Range is particularly high and wildly rugged, with nine four-thousanders towering into the sky. Wyoming’s highest elevation is also located here: Gannett Peak, which reaches 4202 m, 4207 m or 4210 m depending on the measurement.

A highly valued photo motif and symbol of powerful, untouched nature is the Teton Range with its 4196 m high Grand Teton Peak, the second highest mountain in the state, on the edge of the national park of the same name south of Yellowstone National Park.

The Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons and Snake Rivers

Due to their relatively high rainfall, the mountain ranges of the Rocky Mountains are densely forested. Because of the altitude and the harshness of the climate, coniferous trees predominate, with which the timber industry makes a lucrative business. Valuable raw materials such as oil shale, hard coal, iron ore and uranium lie beneath the rock. Mountain tourism (hiking, climbing, canoeing and rafting in the summer, skiing in the winter season) is also important.

Intermountain Basins

The third major geographic area is represented by extensive basins, located predominantly in the center and south-west and bordered by the mountain ranges, e.g. B. the Bighorn, Great Divide, Green River and Wind River Basins. These basins are relatively high (1000-2000 m) but flat and mostly covered with short grass or low scrub. There are hardly any trees. Since they are located directly in the lee of the large mountain ranges, these basin landscapes have very little precipitation and therefore occasionally have a semi-desert character. Nevertheless, together with the Great Plains, they are the heartland of population and agriculture. Without irrigation, however, arable farming (especially wheat and sugar beets) is hardly possible here.

A special feature is the Great Divide Basin, which is a semi-desert with no inflow or outflow directly on the continental divide. Here is the so-called Red Desert, a semi-desert and desert area covering around 24,000 km², which is known for its sand dunes, which are among the most powerful in the USA. To the southwest are bizarre gorges, such as the colorful Flaming Gorge, which are reminiscent of the Canyonlands in Utah and Arizona further to the southwest.

Rivers and lakes

As a fairly dry patch of the United States, Wyoming naturally has no major wetlands or lakes. Only 0.7% of the state area is covered by water. This ranks Wyoming tenth from bottom among American states, along with other states in the Midwest and Southwest (Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, etc.).

Almost a quarter of Wyoming’s total water surface is taken up by Yellowstone Lake in the national park of the same name, which extends over 352 km² within the park boundaries. It lies at an altitude of 2,376 m, has 177 km of shoreline and, with an average water depth of 42 m, measures 118 m at its deepest point. Its position as the largest freshwater lake over 2,000 m in all of North America is outstanding. However, Yellowstone Lake has a liquid surface only about half the year (and rarely warms above 15°C) as it freezes over in normal winters from early December to late May or early June. The ice sheet is up to a meter thick in many places, but there are areas where shallow, near-shore waters overlie warm springs that prevent ice from forming in those places.

The second largest lake is not far to the south and is also over 2000 m above sea level. It is the 103 km² Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park, which at 134 m is even deeper than Yellowstone Lake. Originally smaller, the water surface was enlarged by a dam. Jackson Lake is also frozen half the year and rarely exceeds 15 °C, even in hot summers.

Aside from these two large lakes, there are a few smaller ones, but almost all of them are river dams, such as the Bighorn, Boysen, Buffalo Bill, Flaming Gorge, Fontenelle, Glendo, Keyhole, Pathfinder and Seminoe Reservoirs, all of which are of primary importance importance for agriculture and the water supply of the cities. Wyoming’s rivers originate on the slopes of the mountain ranges that make up the Continental Divide.

The longest river in Wyoming state is the North Platte River in the southeast at over 500 km. It is also of particular importance in that it is home to three of the most water-rich reservoirs. The Green River, the third longest river at almost 400 km, is dammed to form two large reservoirs, the Fontenelle Reservoir and the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which stretches into neighboring Utah.

On the Wind/Bighorn River, the second longest in Wyoming (about 500 km), are the Bighorn and Boysen reservoirs, on which the income from agriculture in the Bighorn Basin depends. Other rivers of importance are the Snake River, Belle Fourche and Powder Rivers, which criss-cross the prairie to the northeast, the Sweetwater and Laramie Rivers to the southeast, both of which feed the North Platte, and the Black Fork, Hams Fork and Sandy to the southwest Rivers emptying into the Green River and the smaller tributaries of the Wind or Bighorn River in the Bighorn Basin: Greybull, Gooseberry, Nowood and Shoshone.

Fauna

One of the many pronghorns in Wyoming

Wyoming’s high plains are home to rabbits, prairie dogs, coyotes, pronghorn, rattlesnakes, goshawks, grouse and pheasants. Bison and pronghorn were almost wiped out on the plains at the end of the 19th century due to excessive hunting, but their populations were able to stabilize thanks to far-reaching protective measures. After the pronghorn were placed under protection, they multiplied again from about 5,000 animals in 1903 to more than half a million today.

This means that there are at least as many pronghorns living in Wyoming as there are people. Wyoming also has the highest pronghorn population in the US and also has the largest contiguous herd of these animals in the US in the Red Desert at 40,000-50,000 individuals.

The bison, of which it is estimated that between 30 and 70 million roamed the North American continent in huge herds at the time of Columbus, had been decimated to less than 1000 specimens at the end of the 19th century. On the one hand, the massive animals lost large parts of their habitat and were prevented from migrating by increasing settlements, on the other hand, they were hunted to an excessive extent, especially after it became apparent that many Indian peoples would perish with the bison.

One of the last small herds of bison was given a secure retreat in Yellowstone National Park. Their population was able to stabilize there and was 4700 animals in 2007. This is the largest free-roaming herd in the entire United States. In addition, Wyoming, like many other states, has thriving bison ranches where thousands of animals are bred in Wyoming alone. The demand for bison meat and leather is significant.

Unlike the Plains, Wyoming’s Rocky Mountains are partially forested. Cougars, bobcats and mule deer live in the lower reaches of the Rockies, while bighorn sheep and mountain goats live in the higher reaches. Mammals such as gray squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, porcupine and skunks can also be found in the mountains, while elk, moose, wolves, black and grizzly bears can also be found in the Yellowstone region. Until the early 1800s, beavers were widespread in the mountains of Wyoming. They were nearly wiped out for their furs. Today they are protected and their numbers are slowly recovering.

Among the deer species, wapitis (this name comes from the language of the Blackfoot Indians and means white hindquarters, in English they are referred to as elk (not to be confused with elk (= moose )) and mule deer ( mule deer ) are the most well-known representatives. In Wyoming There are approximately 106,000 elk (as of 2001) and the world’s largest herd of desert elk ( desert elk herd ) in the Red Desert Mule deer numbers may number in the hundreds of thousands, with 40,000-50,000 individuals in the Red Desert alone are to be found.

The still endangered grizzly bears are primarily found in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which has the largest population in the US at 500-600 animals (around 1400 total in Montana, Idaho, Washington and Wyoming as opposed to 50,000-100,000 prior to the discovery of North America or its settlement by Europeans).

The number of bighorn sheep is around 6000 (as of 2004) and that of mountain goats at 100 to 200 specimens. Mountain goats, which live primarily in and around Yellowstone National Park, pose a problem in that they were not originally native to Wyoming. According to the Yellowstone Parks Administration, however, they have settled in well and threaten the authenticity of the region’s fauna.

Climate

Wyoming has a semi-arid, continental climate that can come up with all sorts of extremes. It is shaped by several geographical factors that are reflected in different ways in the climatic conditions.

The state’s location in the heart of the North American continent, away from any major bodies of water that might have a balancing effect on the climate, ensures a strictly continental climate characterized by hot summers, cold winters and low rainfall. The relatively high location of large parts of the country (there are hardly any areas below 1000 m above sea level) coupled with a southern location (roughly between the 41st and 45th degree of latitude, which in Europe corresponds to the height of central Italy, southern France and northern Spain) and dry air, causes strong temperature fluctuations between day and night.

The Rocky Mountains also have a decisive effect : on the one hand, they represent a real barrier that shields humid and rainy air masses from the Pacific and thus ensures semi-arid conditions in their rain shadow. On the other hand, their folding in a north-south direction enables a more or less unhindered exchange of air masses in parallel. That means sudden polar cold air snaps can occur year-round. Thirdly, the mountains also enable exactly the opposite effect: warm fall winds – known as Chinook (comparable to the Alpine föhn) – can ensure unusually mild temperatures, especially in winter. Finally condition the location near the jet stream, as well as wide, hilly prairie landscapes and plateaus quite windy conditions.

Detail

Two local climate types can be identified in detail : On the one hand, the extensive prairies, plateaus and basins in central, eastern and southwestern Wyoming have a continental steppe climate – such as the Powder River Basin, Bighorn Basin, Great Divide Basin and Green River Basin, which are associated with the largest locations ( Casper, Cheyenne, Gillette, Green River, Rawlins, Rock Springs and Sheridan) also unite a large part of the population. On the other hand, a mountain climate prevails in the mountain ranges and high valleys above 1900 m – this affects e.g. B. the Absaroka Range, the Bighorn Mountains, Laramie Mountains, Wind River Range and Wyoming Range, which run north-south through the state and have several peaks over 4000 m; The entire world-famous Yellowstone National Park, which is consistently above 2000 m, and the area of ​​Jackson Hole to the south, which is famous for its winter sports facilities, also fall into this climate range.

Steppe climate

The steppe climate of the prairies is characterized by exceptionally cold but very dry winters. December, January and February are the driest months of the year; temperatures drop at night to an average of -13 to -8 °C. while the daily highs are mostly around the freezing point or in the soft plus range (typically -1 to +4 °C) despite the biting morning frost. Cold waves, which can come unhindered from the north, occasionally cause significant temperature drops and severe frost: then it can cool down to below -30 °C at night, and temperatures often do not rise above -15 °C during the day either. blizzards can also initiate sudden, heavy snowfalls that can paralyze public life. On the other hand, when the warm downwind Chinook hits the basins and plains, it can easily reach +15°C (even at night); up to +20 °C are possible on peak days.

In spring and early summer, humidity increases with temperature. It can rain up to ten days a month (this yields between 30 and 65 mm of precipitation, which is seldom reached in much of central Europe, even in the driest months!). In summer, the rain often falls in the form of violent thunderstorms, which discharge over the heated prairies and often bring devastating hail, storms or lightning. In midsummer it becomes drier again and temperatures rise to an average maximum of 27-33 °C during the day. At night, however, it cools down noticeably in most areas (9-14 °C) due to the altitude, drought and high pressure zones; except in July and August there can be morning frosts everywhere. On the other hand, heat waves of over 35 °C are not uncommon, in many places more than 40 °C have already been measured; this is often accompanied by dry periods in which there can be no precipitation for weeks. In autumn there is a slight increase in humidity again, before very dry conditions prevail again with the frost in winter.

Some valleys in the Rockies’ rain shadow receive so little rainfall that they can be described as semi-desert, e.g. B. the Bighorn Basin, in which only 130-200 mm of precipitation falls in the year.

Mountain climate

It is generally cooler and wetter in the mountains. In the mountain ranges and high valleys, especially in the mountainous and high-altitude northwest of the state (with Yellowstone and Jackson Hole), there is permafrost from early December to late February (e.g. Jackson : night -18, day -4 °C; to below -40 °C possible). In contrast to the plains, there is maximum precipitation in the winter half of the year, which falls abundantly and mostly in the form of snow. Snow-reliable ski areas in Jackson Hole and the surrounding area benefit from this, with up to 8 m of snow per year. This is due to frequent cloud accumulation caused by the westerly wind drift, which shovels moist air masses from the Pacific towards the Rocky Mountains, where they unload their wet cargo.

Until late May, winter and spring fight in the mountain regions, rain showers, sun and snowstorms chasing each other. Only in midsummer does drier and warmer weather prevail.

In principle, however, it can snow at altitudes over 2000 m at any time of the year, even in July. The summers are generally very different: sometimes the mountain valleys are constantly hit by violent thunderstorms, including hail, storms, lightning and heavy rain, then again it is very dry and sunny; some years the summers are very cool (in the town of Jackson there are summers in which the temperature never exceeds 25 °C), in others they are almost hot (e.g. in Jackson the temperature reaches 36 °C). There are morning frosts practically every summer.

Weather extremes

The strong continental character of Wyoming’s climate, coupled with local conditions, leads to frequent extreme weather events. In the winter months, these are mainly blizzards that come in from the north and can paralyze public life with freezing rain and heavy snowfalls. Except in midsummer, there is always a risk of blizzards. The blizzards are contrasted by the extremes of summer: Weeks of shimmering heat and without any precipitation regularly have a severe impact on agriculture, as do the violent (hail) storms that fall in large numbers.

The southeastern state is also in the catchment area of ​​tornadoes, which, while much less frequent and less destructive than the prairies further south, still sweep the country from time to time. A weather phenomenon that occurs regardless of the season is significant temperature drops. While the day and night fluctuations can be considerable (up to 30 °C), changes in air masses or other wind phenomena (blizzards, Chinook) repeatedly cause temperatures to rise or fall enormously within a few hours. Temperature fluctuations of up to 40 °C within 24 hours have already been observed.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in Wyoming is -54.4 °C (= -66 °F). This record comes from two locations, Riverside (2177 m) in the south of the state and Moran (2057 m) in the northwest near Yellowstone Park, the coldest continuously inhabited place in Wyoming, and was measured on February 9, 1933. Since then, similarly low values ​​have only been reached in the Yellowstone area (-54 °C). The highest recorded temperature was 116°F (46.7°C) on August 8, 1983 at Basin Village in the generally known as hot and dry semi-arid Bighorn Basin in north-central.

Biggest cities

The largest cities in Wyoming with their population (rounded):

  • Cheyenne 60,000
  • Casper 55,000
  • Laramie 31,000
  • Gillette 29,000
  • Rock Springs 23,000