Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Visited: August 2020

Accommodations: Holiday Inn, La Junta, Colorado

Duration: 2-3 hours

This Fort built in 1833 (originally called Fort William) by traders Charles and William Bent and their partner Ceran St. Vrain sought to establish a base for trading to include trappers from the Rocky Mountains, plains Indians buffalo traders and the Santa Fe trail travelers. This place became known as a haven to the travelers of the Santa Fe trail, after 2 months on the trail this was a great site to see. This was our main reason for stopping at this historic site. We have been following the Santa Fe trail since Old Franklin, Missouri. It was a great site for us to see as well.

By 1846, now called Bent’s Fort, it was used for more than trading. It was now used as a military outpost and was used as staging point for the United States’ invasion of Mexico.

We started out here first thing in the morning, Colorado afternoons can get hot. It was a beautiful cool summer morning to enjoy. We walked up to the fort from the parking lot and got some great views of the fort.

As you enter the fort you turn to your left and a ranger will get you your Junior Ranger books and send you off to watch the park film. Cancellations can be found in the way back of the fort in the bookstore. Don’t miss this bookstore it surprised me how nice it was at this little fort. We watched the park film and then self toured the fort answering questions in our booklets. The Junior Ranger books have maps to follow so you know what each room is, this is a nice bonus to have as the kids tell you as we enter each room.

We did the first floor and the the second floor. The setup here is great Grandma and Hunter even enjoyed a game of checkers in the quarters.

Gunnar LOVED the blacksmith shop! He was able to run the equipment and forge a nail.

View from the upper deck with rangers dressed in period clothing to aid in the authentication of the fort.

And my favorite picture I took here, I was waiting for the boys to finish up their junior rangers around the fire ring and I got this one. I love it. Perfect ending to a great morning on the Santa Fe Trail.

If you haven’t been following us along the trail you can do so here:

Santa Fe Trail

We went back into the trade room to earn our badges and we were off. Thus ending our tour of the Santa Fe trail on this trip and finishing out all NPS sites in Colorado. Check back for those.

We got everything we needed here and have never been more thankful that NPS sites are opening back up from Covid. Junior Ranger badge and cancellations, bookstore open for purchases. Our day was made.

Have you been here? We loved it here, everything was perfect after dealing with places shut down or at half capacity due to Covid. This made us feel somewhat normal again.

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