Bent’s New Fort is located in Bent County, just nine miles to the west of Lamar, Colorado. While there are no structural remains left on the site, the earthworks can be visited, offering majestic views of the Arkansas River.
American frontier trader and rancher William Bent was a businessman and a mediator among Native Americans. Located near where the current town of La Junta is, Bent’s first and original trading post successfully operated for almost 20 years.
When the Mexican-American war occurred, the post became too heavily frequented by soldiers, discouraging the Native Americans from doing business there. Bent’s post suffered a substantial financial decline in 1849, prompting him to leave it behind and set up a new post over 30 miles to the east on the Arkansas River.
Bent’s New Fort was smaller than his first but still managed to have 12 rooms and 16-foot walls surrounding the building. Due to the Arkansas River becoming more heavily trafficked and Indian trading becoming less popular, this fort was not successful.
By 1860, the U.S. military began building Fort Lyon, originally known as Fort Wise, just a mile away from Bent’s New Fort. Since his trading business wasn’t profitable, Bent leased it out to the Army for $65 a month. After leasing his property, Bent moved up to a location on the Purgatoire River, where he resided until he died of pneumonia in 1869.
A few signs have been erected to share a bit of the fort’s history as well as a stone monument to memorialize the location. Bent’s New Fort is only about 38 miles away from his old fort, so if you are visiting one or the other, it’s worth the extra stop to see both forts.
Although located on private property, this attraction allows guests to visit during the day. Bent’s New Fort is considered a part of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail. Visitors with an appreciation for American and Colorado history will enjoy a trip out to the fort, as well as anyone who enjoys views of a beautiful river and rural lands.
Address: County Road 35.25, Lamar, CO 81052
County: Bent County
Season: Year-Round | 7 AM – 8 PM