Trails and Rails of the Santa Fe Trail

Explore the Santa Fe Trail aboard Amtrak's

Southwest Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief takes you through the heart of cowboy country. It takes you across the mighty Mississippi and whisks you through eight states, past wheat fields, ranches, missions, pueblos, mountains and deserts. Zipping along through canyons that are sometimes only a few feet wider than the train or through the sun-drenched landscape, you'll feel the presence of the ancient tribes who found spiritual meaning in the rocky cliffs and canyons. You'll remember the Spanish conquistadors whose mission was to conquer the land and the people. This is a journey to be savored from moment to moment. Aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief, time takes on a new quality.

The Southwest Chief Trails & Rails program operates between La Junta, CO and Albuquerque, NM (based out of Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site). Both legs of the trip, La Junta - Albuquerque and Albuquerque- La Junta are operated out of Bent's Old Fort NHS.


Complete meals in the Dining Car
Sandwiches, snacks, drinks in the Lounge Car
Feature movies
Travelogues Hospitality Hour
Journey through time with Interpretive guides throughout the tour
Native American guide from Albuquerque to Gallup

Sleeping Car
Dining Car
Sightseer lounge car
Superliner Reserved Coach


Colorado to New Mexico

Raton Pass - Santa Fe Trail

Whenever you take Amtrak out West, you'll see the land of pioneering, the wagon train, fortunes won and lost, arid deserts and yellow oceans of wheat. Travel along side the Arkansas River, the lush green ribbon of life through the vast expanses of the Santa Fe Trail. The land is mythical, its canyons and towers of rock inspire awe and wonder. The ancient Americans are still a presence on the mesas of Colorado and New Mexico.

The script from La Junta to Albuquerque region features Santa Fe Trail history, including six different National Park sites that are along the route. These National Park sites include Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, Capulin Volcano National Monument, Fort Union National Monument, Pecos National Historical Park, Bandelier National Monument, and Petroglyph National Monument.


Narration provided by Trails and Rails Volunteers along the route. Narration centers on the natural and cultural history of the region. To hear the entire program, passengers must be in sightseer car. For kids, Junior Ranger program booklet may be completed to earn a Junior Ranger badge. Fares vary depending on date of purchase, promotions available, age, discounts, etc.



La Junta

The Spanish name "La Junta" (pronounced La Hunta) means a junction where roads diverge to mountain passes or vast plains. La Junta was utilized as the thoroughfare for the Santa Fe Railroad and the Kansas Pacific from Kit Carson. Big Commercial firms used it for the bulk of their trade business in New Mexico, Arizona and other many states. It was a hub of commerce and common place to see 300 to 500 mule and bull teams on her streets. The Santa Fe Railroad recognized the future importance of the station and built a depot and roundhouse as its headquarters of the Colorado division. By 1879 Santa Fe shops were established and the town was revived and it's growth expanded to 5,000 at present day.

Green, rolling hills flow alongside the Arkansas River and the route of the historic Santa Fe Trail. The trail epitomized the frontier spirit of exploration, trade, and settlement. Dozens of crystal blue lakes and reservoirs lure wildlife as well as recreationists. Preserved grasslands and canyon lands whisper of pioneers adventures as they traveled through and settled in the region.



Albuquerque's unique combination of old and new dates back nearly 10,000 years, when Anasazi Indians first settled the region. You can see the ruins of the cliff-dwellings today. The railroad first stopped here in 1880, and Albuquerque's mild climate and beautiful scenery drew new residents to the old West. Now home to many popular attractions, the metropolis sits on the fabled Route 66, and remnants of that roadside culture are preserved in 50's-style diners, theme motels, and the KiMo Theater.


For ticket prices/information, contact AMTRAK at 1-800-USA-RAIL or on the internet at


AMTRAK's Southwest Chief's Schedule

Trip runs through May 8 – September 5-- contact 504-828-1630 or 719-383-5010, ext. 24.

Trips depart La Junta Colorado, Fridays & Mondays at 8:25 am

Arrive Albuquerque, New Mexico at 4:08 pm

Return trip departs Albuquerque, NM Saturdays & Tuesdays at 1:04 pm

Arrive La Junta, Colorado at 8:33 pm

Trails and Rails is a partnership between Amtrak and the National Park Service that provides education opportunities for rail passengers to foster an appreciation for the region's natural and cultural heritage.

The route from La Junta, Colorado to Albuquerque, New Mexico was inaugurated in 2002. From May to September tours run twice each week.


Site Map 

La Junta Sites 

Lamar Sites 

Trinidad Sites 

Byway Museums

Byway Links