CASPER, Wyo. — For most Americans, today is simply March 7. For Wyomingites, however, today is 307 Day — a day to celebrate all things Wyoming. The number is, of course, Wyoming’s sole area code. But how did it come to be that a state spanning nearly 100,000 square miles only has one area code?
As it turns out, the number of area codes are not determined by geographical size, but by population and the amount of phones in an area. And for Wyoming — the least populous state in the country — one area code is all that is needed.
“There are so, so many numbers you can create with 10 digits that for the time being,” Wyoming Public Service Commission Chairman Chris Petrie said. “There are so few phone numbers in Wyoming that we only need the one code.”
Wyoming’s 307 area code is one of the nation’s original 86 area codes, assigned throughout the country by the Bell Telephone company in 1947. At the time, most states only needed a single area code. But as time went on, and phone ownership became increasingly prevalent, most states were faced with the need for additional area codes. Today, Wyoming is one of just 11 states with only one area code. The others are Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.
However, with new phone numbers being created each year, Wyoming won’t be able to operate with just its singular area code forever, Petrie said. According to Petrie, the North American Numbering Plan Administrator projects that a second area code will become necessary in late 2040.
“The projection used to be even sooner than that, but due to a reduced demand, the forecast has grown,” he said.
And Wyoming isn’t the only of the 11 states expected to require another area code in the coming decades. Montana is projected to need a second designation in 2031, and Alaska is likely to need another area code by 2050.
Over the years, Wyomingites developed an affinity for the number, and March 7 was eventually officially designated as 307 Day.
“There is a definite identification with the 307 area code,” Petrie said. “A few years back, there was some concern that the numbers would exhaust even sooner than 2040, and so there was action taken so that those numbers would be used more efficiently and carefully. So there’s certainly an affinity for the number, and hopefully we can maintain that 307 area code for as long as possible. … I know that it’s not just us who feel that way. Many of the other states that just have one area code feel a similar attachment.”