The busy days of the Santa Fe Trail will come back to life the weekend of June 7 – 8 as Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site hosts an encampment and trail caravan.
The busy days of the Santa Fe Trail will come back to life the weekend of June 7 – 8 as Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site hosts an encampment and trail caravan. Over 60 living history interpreters will inhabit the fort and surrounding camps on Saturday, June 7, demonstrating life along the trail. On Sunday, June 8, many of those same interpreters will take to the trail itself as a caravan travels along the Santa Fe Trail southwest of La Junta.
Events at the fort will run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 7. Among the groups to visit with will be traders, trappers, mounted dragoons, topographical engineers, Mormon soldiers and a host of fort employees. The fort will reopen Saturday evening at 7 p.m. for a performance by the Fourth Artillery Quadrille Ensemble, playing tunes of the 19th century. Visitors will be invited to dance along and enjoy the evening in the fort plaza.
On Sunday, June 8, many of living history interpreters will hit the trail, traveling in a wagon caravan along a 3-mile stretch of the Santa Fe Trail between Sierra Vista Overlook and Timpas Picnic Area on the Comanche National Grassland. Visitors are invited to walk along with the caravan and experience trail life on the move.
The caravan will depart from Sierra Vista at 10 am and arrive at Timpas by about 1 pm. Those joining this walk will need sufficient water, sun screen and proper footwear for crossing the dry, rocky, cactus-strewn ground. Shuttle service will be provided between the starting and end points, so participants will only have to walk one-way. A Junior Ranger badge will be available for kids who complete the trip.
Sierra Vista Overlook is located on Colorado Highway 71, just north of its intersection with U.S. Highway 350, approximately 14 miles southwest of La Junta or 14 miles south of Rocky Ford. Timpas Picnic Area is three miles further to the southwest down U.S. Highway 350.
The park’s normal living history fee applies to the fort events on Saturday, June 7. The cost is $3 for visitors 13 and older and $2 for ages 6 to 12. Kids 5 and under are free. National Park Passes are honored for this fee. Fees will be collected at the fort entrance. Water, sun screen, hats, insect repellent and comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Those attending the evening program on Saturday should bring a flashlight for the walk back to their vehicle. There is no charge for the Sunday caravan trip.
Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located on Colorado Highway 194, 8 miles east of La Junta or 15 miles west of Las Animas. For more information on the Santa Fe Trail Encampment and Caravan, visit the park’s website at www.nps.gov/beol and click on “Special Events” or call the park at (719) 383-5010.