Bent’s Old Fort was a significant fur trading post isolated on Colorado’s eastern plains. The adobe-style fort operated for sixteen years as a main stop on the Santa Fe Trail.
As a hot spot along the national historic trail, Bent’s Old Fort Guided served a myriad of people. Today, tours are offered throughout the year, several times a day. You’re also welcome to walk around the fort and go into the rooms at your leisure. Pets are welcome, but not in the rooms.
National Historic Site in Otero County
It’s a quarter-mile hike to the fort from the parking area. A longer one-and-half-mile trail leads you by the Arkansas River and past numerous interpretive signs.
Inside the fort, there’s a bookstore and a visitor center, where you can watch a twenty-minute documentary, “Traders, Tribes, and Travelers”.
Annual events include:
- Frontier Skills Day,
- Santa Fe Trail Encampment,
- Kid’s Quarters,
- Old Fashioned Fourth of July,
- Native American Heritage Day, and
- the Traditional Holiday Celebration.
- Visitor Center
- Gift Shop
- Hiking Trail
- Restrooms and Water Fountain
William Bent built the fort in 1833, and it quickly became the Santa Fe Trail’s primary commerce point between Missouri and Mexico. There was trade with Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians, as well as trappers and travelers passing through. It was considered neutral ground until it was mysteriously destroyed in 1849.
It was designated a national historic site in 1960 and the fort was reconstructed.
Forty miles east of Bent’s Old Fort is Bent’s New Fort. While there are no structural remains at this location and so there’s very little to see, a few interpretive signs highlight the history of this fort.
Address: 35110 Colorado 194, La Junta, CO 81050
Season: Year round, daily except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day
Pets: Yes but not welcome in rooms