Travel Back in Time on the Santa Fe Trail in Colorado

Between the years of 1821 – 1880 the Santa Fe Trail was America’s first international highway. The Santa Fe Trail was first and foremost a commercial route between Mexico and the United States. Unlike its contemporary, the Oregon Trail, which was an emigrant route, the Santa Fe Trail was the highway of merchants traveling in either direction with goods to sell. 

In 1821 William Becknell began the first successful trading journey from Missouri to Santa Fe along what would be call the Santa Fe Trail.  In celebration of the trail’s Bicentennial, you can visit many fascinating historic sites along the trail in southeast Colorado.  

1. Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site


Administered by the National Park Service, this reconstructed fur trading post on the trail lets visitors travel back in time to the 1840s. Interpreters in period clothing tell the story of the post in the history of the west. Learn more here.


2. Comanche National Grassland     


Three sites along US Highway 350 between La Junta and Trinidad let you explore the trail on your own.  Visit Sierra Vista Overlook, Timpas Picnic Area, and Iron Springs Historic Site to see trail ruts and walk sections of the trail. Learn more here.


3. Boggsville Historic District



A National Historic District just south of Las Animas, the Boggs and Prowers Houses, built in the 1860s, still stand as remnants of one of the first settlements along the trail.  This is where the ranching and farming history of the region began. Learn more here.


4. Trinidad History Museum


Administered by History Colorado, the property features the historic Bloom Mansion and Baca House, two residences built in the late 19th century, as well as the Santa Fe Trail museum, all on one block in Trinidad's acclaimed historic district.



5. 2021 Bicentennial Santa Fe Trail Symposium


The keystone event of the 200-year celebration will take place in La Junta, September 22 – 26, 2021. Living history, tours and speakers will tell the story of the trail. For more information and to register click on

The celebration continues, in Trinidad, at the commemorative event on September 27 – October 3, 2021.