This site funded in part by the Colorado Tourism Office, National Scenic Byway Organization of the
Federal Highway Administration & the Colorado Scenic Byway Program
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Colorado's Santa Fe Trail
The Santa Fe Trail served as an international trade route between Missouri and the Mexican frontiers from 1821 to 1880. Trail states include Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Although the Mountain Branch was 100 miles longer than the Cimarron Route, and the climb over Raton Pass was difficult, water was more accessible and the route was less vulnerable to Indian attacks. Colorado's portion of the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway starts at the Kansas border and spans 184 miles across southeast Colorado, ending at the New Mexico border on top of Raton pass.
Visit historic trading posts like Bent's Old Fort and Boggsville. Tour stage coach stops, see fields of visible wagon ruts and canyons with ruins of Trail-era ranches. Get started at the the Colorado Byway Visitors Center in the Trinidad History Museum . Here you can tour the Bacca house, Bloom mansion or the Santa Fe Trail Museum. Or start at one of Colorado Welcome Centers in Trinidad or Lamar.
Our rich heritage and culture can be seen in the historic architecture of the Corazon de Trinidad National Historic District . Take the interpreted historic walking tour through the brick streets of downtown Trinidad. Have a picnic on the cool banks of the Purgatoire River.
Travel through the quaint rural farm and ranching towns of Lamar, La Junta, and Las Animas. Visit their sites of interest which tell the stories of our National Historic Santa Fe Trail. Museums tell of the immigrants and merchants, cattlemen, railroad developers and miners. The lavish architecture reflects the commerce along the Santa Fe Trail. Historic figures like Kit Carson, the Bent brothers, Bat Masterson and Billy the kid, add to the trail's wild west charm.
Comanche National Grassland is home to North America's largest dinosaur track site which can be explored on self guided or guided tours. This area was home to Native Americans, Spanish explorers, pioneer traders, miners and merchants. Today's travelers can explore the trail's history on the auto tour of the National Santa Fe Trail. Allow 4 hours to drive the byway. The trail follows the shores of the Arkansas and Purgatoire Rivers of Southeast Colorado. Look closely and you can see wide bands of wagon tracks across the prairies. Especially during the spring when the vegetation in the ruts are a different color than the surrounding prairie.
The Santa Fe Trail beckons you to explore the wide variety of adventure and recreational opportunities in water sports, hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife viewing and hunting. Some of our nations most treasured secrets lie here on the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Hisoric Byway.
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