Encampment and Caravan Highlight Santa Fe Trail Weekend at Bent’s Old Fort

Trader Camp at Bent’s Old Fort

The busy days of the Santa Fe Trail will come back to life the weekend of June 8 –10 as Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site hosts an encampment and trail caravan. Over 70 living history interpreters will inhabit the fort and surrounding camps on Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9 demonstrating life along the trail.  On Sunday, June 10 many of those same interpreters will take to the trail itself as a caravan travels along the Santa Fe Trail southwest of La Junta.

Working with the Blacksmith

Events at the fort will run from 9 am to 5:30 pm on Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9. Among the groups visitors can interact with will be traders, trappers, volunteer soldiers, topographical engineers, and a host of fort employees.  A small Plains Indian camp will be set up in front of the fort.  Activities and demonstrations will be ongoing in the camps and at the fort throughout the day.

On Sunday, June 10, many of the 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 8:30 am and arrive at Timpas around 11 am. 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 3 miles further to the southwest down U.S. Highway 350.

The park’s special event fee applies to the fort events on Friday, June 8 and Saturday, June 9. The cost is $5.00 for visitors 6 or older.  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 for all the weekend’s events whether at the fort or on the trail. There is no charge for the Sunday caravan walk.

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.

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