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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.

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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

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