The “Great Prairie Highway” passes through five states in nine hundred miles. It begins in Missouri, then travels through Kansas and splits into two routes: the Mountain Route through Colorado and Cimarron Route through Oklahoma. They both meet back up in New Mexico, before ending in Santa Fe, which was part of Mexico at the time.
It begins in eastern Colorado near Lamar, then heads southwest toward Trinidad, passing through sections of the Comanche National Grassland. In Trinidad it crosses the Raton Pass into Northern New Mexico.
The only places that charge a fee on the trail are Fort Larned in Kansas, Bent’s Old Fort in Colorado, and Fort Union and Pecos National Historical Park, both in New Mexico.
Europeans used parts of the route in the late eighteenth century, before William Becknell officially established it in 1821. His party ventured out for Santa Fe from the town of Franklin, MO. The trail quickly grew into an international trade and commerce route, until trains reached Santa Fe in 1880.
Trail hardships included water and food scarcity, Indian attacks and severe weather, with everything from heat waves to blizzards. Mosquitos, dust and mud were a regular nuisance. Learn more with the brochure.
Address: Franklin, MO – Santa Fe, NM
Season: Year round
Pets: Yes, on leash