Santa Fe Trail Scenic & Historic Byway
Interpretive Master Plan

Santa Fe Trail logo concho belt

Interpretative Media Recommendations

Phase I Recommendations (1996 funding)

Phase II Recommendations (1997 funding)

Additional Recommendations
Last updated November 2011.

Interpretative Media Recommendations

Each type of interpretive media that is recommended for implementation along the Byway is outlined here with a description of how it will be used.

Phase I Recommendations (1996 funding)

Low Wattage Radio Messages

The recommended radio messages will be accessible to those within a short radius of the broadcast point. Highway signage should indicate that travelers should tune radios to the given frequency for information. The message at Lamar will promote the byway and invite visitors to stop at the Welcome Center. The message at Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site will communicate messages about the Santa Fe Trail and more recent history of the area along Colorado Highway 350. The messages at the First National Bank site in Trinidad and will be updated to include local events and the one atop Raton Pass will introduce travelers to the Byway and invite them to stop at the Colorado Welcome Center in Trinidad.

Radio Message Guidelines:

Sites for Implementation:

Audio Tapes

Since the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway is such a long byway, it is recommended that one 60-minute audio tape be developed to interpret the natural and cultural history of the area through which visitors will travel.

This tape is made available at major town sites along the Byway.

Audio Tape Guidelines:


Brochures are recommended for the Byway as an extension of a family of brochures that was developed by SECED. The SECED Santa Fe Trail brochure in that group will be updated and collateral brochures will be developed for Las Animas County. Their purpose is to encourage tourism to this region and to promote special events in each county. New brochures should be printed every two years to make sure that information is current. New sites being developed should be added to the brochure when they become visitor ready. We are planning a new brochure in 2012.

Brochure Guidelines:

Pod casts and mobile applications

Pod casts are now available about the Byway on online at here. The Byway was offered the opportunity to have mobile phone applications for 15 sites on the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway. Colorado Byways program paid for the service for 6 months, it will be up to the Byway to provide marketing for the mobile apps. and continue to expand on the program. The apps are made by tagawhat and we will use the scanner codes on our brochures and other marketing materials to provide these apps to our visitors. They can scan the code on our brochures, magazine ads and it will download the apps into their phones. Self guided tours from your phone.

Wayside Exhibits ( Low Profile Waysides)

Sites along the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway that have been recommended as the most appropriate sites still in need of wayside exhibits include Holly gateway at their new walking trail, Bents New Fort, Interpretation at these sites will stimulate visitors to get involved with and learn about the natural and cultural resources specific to each site and to drive this scenic Byway and adjacent byways. Each will be designed in such a way that visitors will be encouraged to explore the area in more depth. Interpretation at each site will be able to stand alone yet will blend thematically with the Byway theme and with adjacent exhibits.

Outdoor exhibits recommended in this plan should be developed using fused PVC. This medium has been part of interior exhibits for quite some time and has recently been successfully tested against fading, initiating its use as outdoor interpretive signage.

Since fused PVC works from computer-scanned originals, the number of colors that can be utilized in the design of an exhibit panel is unlimited. The embedded product is based on 3mm or 6mm expanded Sintra. The image is fused into the Sintra using heat and pressure then coated with an adhesive 5 mil UV overlaminate (Lustex). The resulting interpretive panels are capable of accepting photographs, water color or acrylic paintings as original backgrounds to the interpretive messages.

Exhibit framing should be of powder-coated steel that will meet or exceed the existing NPS standards. These framing / mounting systems should designed to hold the interpretive panels but not overwhelm the panel design. Their purpose should not be to attract visitor attention but to support the message that is the focus.

Wayside Guidelines:

Sites for Implementation:

Public Service Announcements

As a public service, Radio Station KCRT has offered to develop, distribute and broadcast public service announcements about the Byway and related activities. These are also a way we can tell the public about local events on the Byway. We are working with our stakeholders to help bring this information through modern technology, pod casts, and downloadable sound recordings. Currently our low watt radio broadcast is up and running. Signs at the El Moro Rest Area are needed to inform travelers of the audio announcements at 16.10 AM Radio.

Public Service Announcement Guidelines:

Be developed in conjunction with KCRT

Worldwide Web Site

With the accessibility of the Internet, many visitors have changed how they plan their vacations and recreation time. Numerous parks, forests and byways already have web sites through the Great Outdoors Recreation Pages (GORP). Many states have web pages especially for scenic byways (including Colorado). Other states have general tourism or recreational listings, (i.e. Colorado Tours) and State Resource listings. This is an excellent way to promote the Byway at very little expense.

The NFS is currently working on a homepage for the National Historic Trail that will be pan of the NPS homepage system. There are a number of web sites about the Santa Fe Trail and NPS hopes to coordinate with many of these and ultimately link with them. We have an extensive link page for our Byway stakeholders.

Phase II Recommendations (1997 funding)

Wayside Exhibits ( Low Profile Waysides)

See Phase I description.

Interior Exhibit

This particular interior exhibit will be installed at Trinidad Lake State Park to promote the Byway and its activities. An important element of many interior exhibits is interactivity. This exhibit will be installed along one large wall in the visitor center and will be designed by an exhibit designer who will be selected by Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Graphic design elements should mesh with others used along the Byway.

Low Wattage Radio Messages

See Phase I description.

Sites for Implementation:

Phase III Recommendations (1998 grant application)

Wayside Exhibits ( Low Profile Waysides)

See Phase I description.

Byway Newspaper

The Byway newspaper is a medium that has been used successfully on other byways. Printed once or twice a year, these 8-12 page newspapers are able to offer visitors specific information on where to go and what to see. Advertising in the newspaper offsets the cost of printing and serves the local community by promoting amenities that may be of interest to visitors. Other byways have worked with the local newspaper to handle the printing. A good example of a byway newspaper is that of the Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, in western Colorado.

Activity Book

Since children and families will represent a significant portion of the Byway's visitors, it is recommended that media be developed that is targeted specifically toward children. An activity booklet would contain activities that focus on local natural and cultural resources but relate to concepts that children can take home and relate to other locations. By including some activities that can be done both on the road and at home, this message can make the connection between the Byway and people's daily lives. Some activities should be child-oriented and others can be oriented toward a child with assistance of an adult or older sibling. A center pull-out portion will be directed toward adults who want more in-depth information or instructions on how to best do the activities with a child.

Funding for this project was granted in 2010 and expected to be available in 2012.

Activity book sales should be tracked through the Byway organization and handled through as many local outlets as are able to sell them.

Activity Book Guidelines:


See Phase I description of brochures. Promotes both the Santa Fe Trail and the Highways of legends.

Additional niche brochures should be developed for those visitors who are interested in a particular culture of people, or industry which may have influenced the development of the Santa Fe Trail and the history of the region. These include but are not limited to the Native Americans, coal mining, ranching, and railroading. Additionally there should be a brochure which indicates where to go learn about these topics. A museum guide for visitors listing all museums and their particular collection pertaining to the Santa Fe Trail. Funding for these will be available in 2012.

Day Trips

To be an effective economic development tool, the Byway needs to keep visitors in the area for more than just a pass through. Developing day trips to local points of interest is a further way of keeping the visitors in the area. By including driving as well as biking and hiking routes, the day trips will appeal to a broader segment of travelers and recreationists.
It is recommended that ten such trips along the Byway be developed and interpreted with low profile wayside exhibits as described in Phase I. Additional routes and Wildlife Areas could be promoted (but not interpreted) through the use of the interactive video, promotional brochures, low watt radio highlighting trips and pod casts.

Additional plans are being made with sister Byways for interpreted bus tours. Leaving Pueblo and touring sister Byways in Colorado. Local transportation providers like COG in each town of the Byway will be handling tour bus fleets and our Byway local chambers could arrange for food and lodging to sites. The Byway group promotes and organizes tours. A pilot program is being developed in Pueblo in partnership with Frontier Pathways. We expect to use this if it is a successful model when planning our program on the Santa Fe Trail Tours begin. This program would help sustain our Byway Program and contribute economic prosperity in our Byway communities.

Day Trip Locations

Kearney Encampment Interpretation

This interpretation project is in conjunction with the City of Trinidad hiking / biking trail described on page 7. Recommended media is two wayside exhibits. See Phase I for wayside exhibit descriptions. These particular exhibits will interpret the Army of the West and their Purgatoire River encampment in Trinidad. Local stakeholders and Colorado State Parks are planning to extend the Purgatoire Riverwalk out to Trinidad Lake State Park. Additionally Trout Unlimited is planning to reclaim the Purgatoire River as a natural habitat for trout and will provide trails and a handicapped accessible fishing spot along the Purgatoire. It is suggested we provide 4 interpretation signs for the Purgatoire river walk.

Boggsville Interpretation

Since Boggsville is an NPS certified site on the Santa Fe Trail, it plays an important role to the overall Byway, as it does to southeastern Colorado. Interpretation at Boggsville includes five low profile wayside exhibits, pod cast and a promotional brochure have been completed in partnership with Boggsville funded by the Byway.


Additional Recommendations

Interpretation will not achieve its goals if visitors are not aware of its presence. The Byway Committee should work with CDOT to position and install highway Point of Interest signage for each interpretive site. Historical sites such as Bent's Old Fort and Bent's New Fort, require directional highway signage and day trips should be marked, sites of historic importance open to the public should be signed.

Sign Plans

Partnerships with the Byway include NPS, CDOT, Santa Fe Trail Association, and many other local groups and stakeholders have planned needed signs. CDOT sign plan is at that link. Santa Fe Trail through Colorado scenic byway sign plan is here. NPS has completed the sign plan for four Byway counties and is nearing completion of Las Animas County. Southeast Colorado Regional Heritage Taskforce completed their sign plan in 2008 which includes our area of impact for the Byway. It is located at SECRT wayshowing plan. Where possible the America's Byways brand should be incorporated on any existing Scenic Byway signs when funding is available and space is permissible without blocking critical views for highway safety. NPS is seeking Byway funds to match with the Santa Fe Trail Association to mark the National Historic Santa Fe Trail in Colorado. These would be the signs which mark trail segments and trail crossings, site id signs throughout the entire Byway.

Two interpretive signs were placed at El Moro Rest area and the Byway radio broadcast was moved to this location. During the reconstruction of I-25 our radio broadcast signs were removed and never replaced. We are in need of replacing those signs now in 2011. We have determined with CDOT that three signs are immediately needed to let visitors know it is airing. We will request funds to replace all 8 using unified sign for all the AM broadcast signs.

Highway 50 may be rerouted in the future and visitor access should be taken into consideration when signing new segments.

Trails on the Santa Fe Trail

The stakeholders on the Santa Fe Trail are all planning linking their towns and historic sites through trails of all kinds. Fishing, hiking, biking, etc... are all wonderful activities for visitors. Trinidad, Trinidad Lake State Park, Bents Old Fort, Boggsville, Amache, Sand Creek, Fort Lyon, Lamar, John Martin Reservoir, Holly, all have wonderful trails. Our "Trails on the Santa Fe Trail" brochure was completed in 2010 and is available online here, "Trails on the Santa Fe Trail"

Interpretive and way finding for visitors

Bent's New Fort is in need of interpretive signs and shade for this new visitor location. Partners are working to provide a visitor pull off with trail to the historic site at the edge of a cliff, and two site ID signs placed on the highway. A shaded viewing telescope at the overlook and interpretive signs for visitors is suggested to further enhance the visitor experience at this historic site. Bent's New Fort played a critical role in Santa Fe Trail history is located directly on the Byway. It was from here that the attack on Sand Creek was launched by the US Army. NPS will provide two site ID signs from the highway and are working on visitor parking and public trail to the site. The site has a breathtaking view of prairie landscape and the Arkansas River flows below the cliff where the fort was located.

Trinidad is putting in a new transit station with lighting along the Santa Fe Trail rail corridor. People can take the NPS guided "Trails to Rails" trip to Santa Fe from this location. Interpretive signs at this new public location are needed to let visitors know about Trinidad railroading impact on Santa Fe Trail history. The Purgatoire River Trail in Trinidad is being extended all the way out to Trinidad Lake. They need interpretive signs for their new trail which will reintroduce native trout to the Purgatoire River and offer a public ADA accessible fishing spot for the disabled.

These new sites are in need of interpretation relating to Santa Fe Trail History, added to our inventory, and marketed in print and online.

Suggested project for Mile Marker 15, Hwy. 50 needs a solar powered light to mount on the flag pole which sits by the interpretive signs and gravel for the pull off. This is the only location on the 80 mile stretch to La Junta from Trinidad which would have a public lighted area for travelers. Partners put the flag pole in and never got a light for it. A light would meet the requirements for displaying the US Flag and provide a safe pull off for travelers at night on the Byway.

Three signs are needed to let travelers know about our Byway AM radio broadcasts from El Moro. They were removed during I-25 reconstruction and never replaced. Once funds are available CDOT has agreed to install them for us and have them manufactured at their depot. Cost is estimated at $300 per sign.

Byway Lure Brochure

Recommendations for a brochure would be a promotional brochure developed for the Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway and will show our sister byways on the map. 11"X17" tri fold. It will be made available online and in print in 2012.

Byway tours

The Byway and stakeholders of Trinidad, La Junta and Lamar are planning to partner to provide guided tours for visitors in the near future. Funding is needed organize and market the tours which will provide for Byway sustainability, create jobs and boost local economies. Chambers of Commerce, local historical societies, tourism groups, community colleges, Council of Governments, transit authorities, are all good possibilities for partners in the Byway tours program.

Bike Racks

We are faced with an increased need for Bike Racks as a result of the Bike the Byways Program here in Colorado. Most cities have funding for them but small sites such as Fort Lyon/Cemetery, Kit Carson Chapel and Boggsville Historic Site are in need of a bike racks for their location.