Travel Center

Santa Fe Trail

Length: 188 miles. Driving time: 4 hours.

Bent's Old FortSanta Fe TrailOn a clear spring day, a sharp observer can still discern the wagon-wheel ruts of the Santa Fe Trail wending their way across the prairie. The cultural legacies of this historic trade route, which saw its heaviest use between the 1820s and 1870s, remain just as distinct. The byway, which comprises a 188-mile portion of the trail, traverses one of the last strongholds of the nomadic Plains Indians and one of the first toeholds of Anglo-American pioneers, who began homesteading along the Arkansas River in the 1860s. The Mountain Branch of the trail traveled through what is today Trinidad and crossed Raton Pass, a mountain gap used by Native Americans for centuries. The byway's midpoint is Bent's Old Fort, once a trading post and cultural melting pot, now a National Historic Site.

The Santa Fe Trail was designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation as a National Scenic Byway in 1998.  It is one of eleven America's Byways® designated in Colorado.

Bent's Old Fort
Comanche National Grasslands
Santa Fe Trail Museum (Trinidad)
Designated a National Scenic Byway
John Martin Reservoir State Park
High Plains Snow Goose Festival
Big Timbers Museum
A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art

Local Chamber of Commerce(s):
La Junta
Historic Trinidad
Bent County/Las Animas

Byways Corridor Management Plan:
Santa Fe Trail Scenic &
Historic Byway Corridor
Management Plan - Updated 2008

Santa Fe Trail Scenic &
Historic Byway Interpretive
Master Plan – Oct 1997
Special Considerations:
Good buys at fruit and vegetable stands.

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Contact Information

Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway - Mountain Branch
312 E. Main Street
PO Box 118
Trinidad, CO 81082
(719) 846-7217

Contact Information


Lenore C. Bates
Colorado Scenic Byways Coordinator
(303) 757-9786
4201 E Arkansas Ave, Shumate Bldg
Denver CO 80222-3406
(303) 757-9727 fax

2015 Partnerships

Colorado Scenic and Historic Byways 2015 partnerships

All-American Road Sponsor:


America's Byways Sponsor:

Colorado Vacation Directory


Colorado Scenic Byway Sponsor:

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