National Parks National Parks

Colorado National Parks
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site

 

Bent's Old Fort, built in 1833 by William and Charles Bent and Ceran St. Vrain, was owned by the St. Vrain Company's expanding trade empire. Located between La Junta and Las Animas near Lamar, Native Americans and trappers would come here to trade goods. It was the only major permanent white settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between the Mississippi River and Mexico. Travelers on the Santa Fe trail would stop here for supplies, wagon repair, livestock, good food and water, as well as rest and company. During the Mexican War in 1846, the fort served as a staging ground for Colonel Stephen Watts Kerney's "Army of the West." In 1849, the fort was abandoned due to disease and disaster. Today, 30,000 people flock to the fort to rediscover the history of the Old West. The fort is open from 9 AM - 4 PM in the winter and 8 AM - 5:30 PM in the summer.

bent's old fort, CO, Colorado Vacation Directory
 

When you enter the fort, you will explore its history in the 20-minute documentary film "Castle of the Plains." Living History interpretive guides give guided tours from June 1 to Labor Day. These tours take you through the fort, and you will visit the kitchen, trade room, blacksmith's shop, and billiard room. All of these rooms have been rebuilt to show authentic life in the 1800's.

Activities for kids are offered during your visit to the fort. Through the fort's Kid's Quarters program, your child will learn about life in the 1800's. Children are divided into groups, such as trappers, traders, laborers, blacksmiths, carpenters, Native Americans, and soldiers. In their groups they learn about normal life and work in the 1800s.

Other events that take place at the fort include the Santa Fe Trail Encampment and the Traditional Holiday Celebration. At the Santa Fe Trail Encampment you witness the arrival of the "Army of the West" at Bent's Fort. Living historians portray infantrymen, artillery engineers and topographical engineers marching towards Mexico. This takes place toward the end of July and beginning of August. During the Traditional Holiday Celebration, candlelight tours, wagon rides, Yule log hunt, games and toy making take place. This occurs at the beginning of December.

Downloads:

View an area map of Bent's Old Fort
(Map provided by the U.S. National Park Service)

View a floor plan of Bent's Old Fort
(Map provided by the U.S. National Park Service)

Directions:

The Fort is accessed via US Highway 50 and Highway 194.

From La Junta: US Highway 50, take Highway 109 north 1 mile to Highway 194, then east on Highway 194 six miles to the fort.

From Las Animas: US Highway 50, take Highway 194 west 13 miles.

More Activities & Information

Fowler, Colorado includes: Rocky Ford

La Junta, Colorado includes: Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site, Branson, Las Animas

Lamar, Colorado includes: Eads, Springfield, Campo



National Historic Sites and Landmarks in Colorado


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