The One Minute Geographer: The Wyoming Top Ten

Jim Fonseca
14 min readNov 12, 2023
Devils Tower photo from loc.gov

We’ll start with Wyoming. The next time you travel, if you sit next to someone on a plane from Wyoming you’ll be ready! (LOL do people actually talk to strangers on planes anymore? Everyone is wrapped up in their headphones and videos.)

  1. Few People, Low Density, Small Cities

Wyoming has the fewest people of all fifty states. After Alaska, it’s the second least densely populated state. All of its few cities and metropolitan areas are tiny.

Wyoming’s population of 585,000 people is about the size of a typical medium-sized US metropolitan area — places like Spokane, Washington or Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania or Chattanooga, Tennessee. Wyoming has 6 people per square mile — about 1/200 that of New Jersey. If Wyoming were populated as densely as New Jersey it could hold 120 million people — more than a third of all US residents!

Map showing neighboring states of Wyoming and its Interstate highways. Map from geographic.org

Wyoming has only two metropolitan areas, Cheyenne and Casper, and neither of these has 100,000 people. Cheyenne, the capital, has 96,000 people and Casper has 82,000. There are seven micropolitan areas (small cities between 10,000 and 50,000), the largest of which is Gillette in the northeast Powder River coal country with 48,000 people.

2. The Square State

Wyoming isn’t perfectly square but it is more so than rectangular Colorado to its south. That helps you pick Wyoming out on a map.

Wyoming is a large state — the 9th — and it has a lot of neighbors. There are only three Interstate highways in the state. Along the southern border with Colorado, I-80 going from New York to San Francisco largely follows what used to be the Oregon Trail. I-90 (Boston to Seattle) cuts through northern Wyoming. I-25 connects the two and parts of I-90 and I-25 follow the old Bozeman Trail that went to Montana.

Cheyenne, the largest city and capital of Wyoming. Photo from cheyennecity.org

Cheyenne is at the intersection of I-80 and I-25. For a state capital, it sits in the southeast corner, very eccentric to…

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Jim Fonseca

Geography professor (retired) writes The One Minute Geographer featuring This Fragile Earth. Top writer in Transportation and, in past months, Travel.