A recent influx of young workers has lowered the average age in Rock Springs, WY, and sparked economic growth. High paying jobs in the mining and extracting industry continue to draw residents under 35. Between 2010 and 2012, Rock Springs' population grew by more than 4 percent, leading to the construction of several new housing developments and the expansion of recreational and cultural amenities.
From kayaking on the Green River to speeding across the Killpecker Sand Dunes, opportunities for outdoor adventures around Rock Springs are as vast as the views. Rugged rock formations surround the city, which is located near one of the top-ranked trout streams in the country and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. Approximately 75 percent of the land in surrounding Sweetwater County is open for public use, whether for hunting and fishing or hiking and camping. Residents also go for man-made recreational attractions, such as the Rock Springs Family Recreation Center, which includes a lazy river, lap pool, racquetball courts, weight room, gym and ice arena, and the Sweetwater County Events Complex and Speedway, where motocross competitions are held.
The annual International Day celebration recognizes the diversity found in Rock Springs, where more than 50 nationalities are represented. Educational amenities include Western Wyoming Community College, which offers general degrees and special courses. The Rock Springs Community Fine Arts Center houses permanent and temporary exhibits and also hosts a series of performing arts programs. Events like Wyoming's Big Show, the county's annual fair, the Red Desert Rodeo Roundup and the National High School Rodeo Finals honor the Western traditions of this town. A brewery, burger joint and theater are among the businesses that lure people to Rock Springs' downtown, once a stop on the Union Pacific Railroad.
Growth rate (2010-12): 4.4%
Size: 19.34 square miles
Median home value: $174,600
Average commute: 19 mins.
See where Rock Springs and other places ranked on our list of Top 10 Death Defying Cities.