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258 miles W of Cheyenne; 178 miles S of Jackson

Rock Springs began as a stage station on the Overland Trail, named after a natural spring that dried up after extensive mining in the area. In 1894, Jack London wrote of Rock Springs: "It seems to be the Wild and Woolly West with a vengeance." It's still true: Rock Springs shows the rougher side of Wyoming, powered by a coal-burning power plant, freight trains roaring through, and all-night truckers stopping for coffee, adding to a blue-collar sensibility.

For more than a century, boom followed bust followed boom, and in the late 1970s, oil, gas, and coal caused the area population to skyrocket. So did the crime rate, and corruption raised its ugly head, but things have improved dramatically since.

The city is not far from some fine outdoor attractions: Fossil Butte National Monument and Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area.