Nestled at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, Dayton is home to the first rodeo in Wyoming, the first female mayor and the famous artist Hans Kleiber.

Dayton was founded in 1882. Its name is derived from one of the founding members, Joe Dayton Thorne. The first mayor of the town was Cornelius “Nea” H. Ketchum. His Successor, Susan Wissler, has the distinction of being the first female mayor in Wyoming — possibly in the United States.

Dayton was incorporated in 1906 and saw some growth as mining and agriculture took its hold. Its current population is 780.

German born Hans Kleiber came to the Dayton area when he worked as a ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. He soon gave up his career to capture the beauty of nature in art, becoming known as the Etcher Laureate of the Bighorns for his depictions of wildlife, Dayton, historical figures and life on the prairie.

Kleiber’s cabin studio is open for tourists and sits just a few hundred feet from its original location. It’s a must see for anyone passing through Dayton.

After checking out the Kleiber studio, travelers can stretch their legs at Scott Bicentennial Park. The park features volleyball pits, picnic areas, trails for biking, walking and running and access to the Tongue River, a popular fishing area.

Dayton is also a great starting point for hikers heading into the Tongue River Canyon, which offers hiking, backpacking, rock climbing and kayaking, or up the Bighorn Mountains for any number of adventures.

In June, Dayton plays host to the Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run, a popular race for ultrarunners with its 30K, 50K, 50-mile and 100-mile options.

The downtown area straddles U.S. Highway 14 and is easy to pass by, but it offers plenty to stop for including an ice cream shop, several unique small-town boutiques, the Art Badgett Pool for summer fun and more.

Each year in July, the town holds Dayton Days, a celebration complete with the “Cow Pie Classic” golf tournament played in a cow pasture, a nighttime movie in the park, a pancake breakfast and parade and a larger-than-life water fight that involves a large barrel suspended in the air on a wire that is “pushed” back and forth by teams wielding fire hoses.


Town of Dayton

  • 780 total residents
  • Under 18: 192
  • Male: 376
  • Female: 381
  • Largest age group: 50-64: 197