La Junta is located on the heart of the Mountain Branch of the Old Santa Fe Trail. In the early 1800s, the area that would someday become La Junta was the staging ground for some of the most exciting events in American history. These were their favored buffalo hunting grounds of the Arapaho and Cheyenne. Because of this the Bent Brothers, William and Charles, established a fort along the river in 1833. Bent’s Fort became the Southwest’s most important outpost and a stopping place along the Santa Fe Trail for travelers, trappers, and explorers.
Today you can easily travel and explore the old Santa Fe trail by car. History is evident all throughout the area. Faint traces of the old wagon ruts can still be seen just outside of La Junta and along Highway 350 to Trinidad at various locations.