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Follow
the Mountain Branch
of the
Santa Fe Trail
Photos of Fort Bent, Pecos National Monument, Building in Las Vegas Plaza, and mountain backdrop near Cimarron.

This scenic route runs from La Junta in Southeastern Colorado where you will find Bents Fort through Trinidad, Raton NM, Cimarron, Springer, Wagon Mound, Watrous, Mora, Las Vegas, and ending at the Santa Fe Plaza .

Interactive Map allows you to roll mouse over camera eyes to view pictures.

 

We begin this scenic drive in La Junta which is east of Pueblo on Hwy 50. Bent's Old Fort is 8 miles east by taking 109 from Hwy 50 to 194 east.

To continue from La Junta, you take Hwy 350 southwest through the Comanche National Grasslands to Trinidad. From there you travel I-25 over Raton Pass to the Cimarron cutoff taking Hwy 64 west to Cimarron.

From the main street of Cimarron, you turn south on Hwy 21 through the Philmont Scout Ranch, Rayado, and Springer. Hwy 85 travels along the east side of I-25 from Springer south through Wagon Mound and Watrous where you can follow the signs to Fort Union.

Return to Watrous and take Hwy 161 to Hwy 518, then Hwy 518 south through Sapello and into Las Vegas. Hwy 85 becomes Grand Ave. in Las Vegas.

Continue south on 85 all the way to Santa Fe with a side trip to Villanueva State Park on Hwy 3 and to Pecos National Historical Park on Hwy 63.

The Plaza in Santa Fe is the end of the trail.

 

Click to find out more about Bent's Fort
Click to find out more about Trinidad Click for close up of Santa Fe Trail map segment from Raton to Las Vegas Click for close up of Santa Fe Trail map segment from Raton to Las Vegas
Click to find out more about La Cueva Click to find out more about Las Vegas, New Mexico
 

The Santa Fe Trail

Before Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, no trade was allowed with the United States. But after 1821, Mexico opened the Santa Fe Trail as an international route for American and Mexican traders and trade with the US began. Taos became a thriving trade center along the route.

The first American to take advantage of this opportunity was William Becknell, a Missouri business man. When he returned from Santa Fe to Franklin, Missouri in 1822, he told tales of adventure and profit stirring the imaginations of other Missourians.

The first Spanish traders to make their way to Missouri were the Romeros and the Bacas who made their first trip in 1824 and later became prominent families in the New Mexican area. You can find out more about the Baca family by visiting the Trinidad History Museum.

One of the most famous mountain men of his time, Kit Carsen, had soon after the trail opened run away from an apprenticeship in Missouri to join a wagon train traveling down the Santa Fe Trail. He made his residence in Taos until his death in 1868. Because of his skill in languages, he became a translator for a wagon train to Chihuahua.

Bent's Fort began operation in 1832 to supply the wagon trains along the way. You can visit this fort near La Junta, Colorado complete with authentically furnished rooms.

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The Santa Fe Trail

Before Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821, no trade was allowed with the United States. But after 1821, Mexico opened the Santa Fe Trail as an international route for American and Mexican traders and trade with the US began. Taos became a thriving trade center along the route.  [more]


       
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