Historic Qualities of the Mountain Branch
of the Santa Fe Trail


The history of the Santa Fe Trail reads like a saga of the old west. Native Americans once roamed this land in pursuit of the plentiful wildlife. Trappers of French and American descent took beaver from the many streams in the area. Pioneers like Buffalo Bill Cody and Jedediah Smith traveled extensively throughout the Trail finding adventure at every turn. See the wagon ruts, those beautiful ruts, throughout the byway from bygone trappers, traders and settlers. Relive the famous sighting of Pikes Peak in Bent county where Zebulon Pike first saw the peak given his name. Trace the route of the historic Santa Fe Trail as you comb the region for dinosaur tracks.





Step back in time as you experience the daily life of early settlers at Bent's Old Fort in La Junta. Demonstrations of frontier medicine, trading post operations and black smithing make this an unforgettable experience. Celebrate a 1846 Christmas at Bent's Old Fort. The communities throughout the Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail celebrate with living history activities in their towns. Santa Fe Trail Days in Trinidad is a colorful rendition of life during the trail days. Activities reflect the rich historical legacy of the area. Take part in La Junta's Early Settlers Days and Lamar Days, and live history for a day as the early settlers did. Be sure and take a trip along the auto tour route to view the wagon trail ruts, traces of evidence that the wagon trains stormed across our prairies.

The still waters of Kiowa and Crowley County run deep with history. Near Chevington lies the site of the epic Sand Creek Massacre. Take yourself back to days of old in a land the great Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa and Ute Indian Tribes once called home.

The Mountain Branch of the Santa Fe Trail was "Trail Founder" William Becknell's first route. It was Susan Shelby Magoffin's journey line to Chihuahua City in Mexico. It was the setting for Uncle Dick Wooton's imaginative exploits and capitalistic skills. It was a side trail to Taos and Kit Carson territory. It is a rich store of its own impressive legend, and a rich vein of distinctive interpretable storylines.


Significant Historic Qualities

Five locations designated a National Historic Site: Bent's Old Fort, Boggsville, the Otero Museum, the Baca House and the El Corazon de Trinidad.
Five locations designated Santa Fe National Historic Trail Sites: Bent's Old Fort, Boggsville, Comanche National Grassland, John Martin Reservoir State Park, and the Trinidad History Museum.
Thirty-three Daughters of the American Revolution trail markers situated directly on the Byway or accessible within the trail corridor.
As many as ten Santa Fe Trail Crossings.
The junction of the Mountain Route and the Fort Union-Granada Road at Granada.
The Old Granada town site, a National Park service high potential site.
Two significant statues, the Kit Carson statue (Kit Carson Park, Trinidad) and the Madonna of the Trail statue (Colorado Welcome Center, Lamar).
Bent's Old Fort, a National Historic Landmark and a Santa Fe National Historic Trail Site.
Bent's New Fort, a high potential site.
Two National Park Service high potential historic sites, Old Fort Lyon and New Fort Lyon.
Boggsville, a National Historic District and a Santa Fe National Historic Trail Site.
Wagon ruts visible at several locations, including Iron Springs historic area, John Martin Reservoir State Park and Old Fort Lyon.
The Las Animas cemetery, featuring the graves of William Bent and Charles Prowers.
Numerous sandstone markers delineating the route of the Santa Fe Trail on public land.
The Iron Springs historic area, one of the best places to view Santa Fe Trail ruts on public land in close proximity to the Byway.
The Hole-in-the-Rock site, north of Thatcher, a National Park Service high potential historic site.
Stage stop sites and information kiosks at the Pinon Canyon Army Maneuvers site.
A historic plaque located on the exterior wall of the Columbian Hotel building (Trinidad).
7.88 miles between Hoehne and Model, a National Park Service high potential route segment.
Six significant museums dealing with the history of the region, Big Timbers Museum (Lamar), Kit Carson Museum ( Las Animas), Otero Museum (La Junta), Koshare Indian Museum (La Junta), Louden-Henritze Archaeology Museum (Trinidad), and the Trinidad History Museum (Trinidad).
The Koshare Indian Museum Kiva, a State Historic Site.



The Significance of the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic and Historic Byway Mountain Branch

Click here for a historical time tour on the Santa Fe Trail written by one of our founders of the Mountain Branch, Roberta Cordova!



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