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Although the Lewis and Clark Expedition missed Wyoming on their 1805-1806 journey to the Pacific Ocean and back, one of their members, John Colter, entered the state in 1807. Others followed, particularly with the growth of the Oregon Trail and the eventual arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad, which was pushed across southern Wyoming in the years after the Civil War. It was admitted to the Union in 1890. After statehood, Wyoming became known for other resources besides the traditional cattle ranching, particularly petroleum exploration.

Perhaps the most famous landmark in Wyoming is Yellowstone National Park. There are fewer than 1,000 known geysers in the world, and more than half of them are in Yellowstone, including Old Faithful. Yellowstone became the first US National Park in 1872 -- 18 years before Wyoming became a state. 34 years later, in 1906, Devil's Tower National Monument became the first US National Monument. This 1267-foot igneous stump with its trademark hexagonal columns is a favorite with climbers, 5,000 of whom scale it each year.

There are many other spectacular natural sites in Wyoming, including the purple crags of the Grand Teton National Park and the revealed oceanic bottom of Fossil Butte National Monument, where visitors can join in the search for ancient stone records of fish from 50 million years ago. But nature isn't solely responsible for all of Wyomings attractions, as a visit to the weeklong Frontier Days rodeo in Cheyenne or an art festival in cosmopolitan Jackson will demonstrate.