Bent’s old Fort

Bents Old Fort
National Historic Site

William and Charles Bent, along with Ceran St. Vrain, built the original fort on this site in 1833 to trade with plains Indians and trappers. The adobe fort quickly became the center of the Bent, St.Vrain Company’s expanding trade empire that included Fort St.Vrain to the north and Fort Adobe to the south, along with company stores in Mexico at Taos and Santa Fe. The primary trade was with the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians for buffalo robes.

For much of its 16-year history, the fort was the only major permanent white settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and the Mexican settlements. The fort provided explorers, adventurers, and the U.S. Army a place to get needed supplies, wagon repairs, livestock, good food, water and company, rest and protection in this vast “Great American Desert.” During the war with Mexico in 1846, the fort became a staging area for Colonel Stephen Watts Kearny’s “Army of the West”. Disasters and disease caused the fort’s abandonment in 1849. Archeological excavations and original sketches, paintings and diaries were used in the fort’s reconstruction in 1976.

VISITATION:

Average visitation 40,000 visitors per year. Highest visitation, June through September; lowest visitation, October through March. School field trips will be encountered in April and May.

LOCATION:

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site is located in southeast Colorado, seven miles east of La Junta, CO, and 13 miles west of Las Animas, CO, on Highway 194. The fort is not directly accessible off of U.S. Highway 50.

ADDRESS:

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
35110 Highway 194 East
La Junta, Colorado 81050-9523

TELEPHONE:

(719) 383-5010
Fax (719) 383-5031
TDD (719) 383-5032

OPERATING HOURS, SEASONS:

The park is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.

Summer hours (June 1 through August 31): 8:00 am to 5:30 pm
Winter hours (September 1 through May 31): 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

CLIMATE, RECOMMENDED CLOTHING:

Summer daytime temperatures range between 80 to 105 F, nights 50 to 75 F. Winter daytime temperatures range between 0 to 65 F, nights -20 to 30 F. Precipitation is minimal. Brief afternoon thunderstorms with lightning, hail, and gusty winds can occur during the summer. Winter snow accumulations are generally light, but heavy snows may occur. Layered clothing appropriate for the season is recommended. Weather can vary greatly throughout the day.

DIRECTIONS:

The park is accessed via U.S. Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 194. From La Junta, Colorado on U.S. Highway 50, take Highway 109 north 1 mile to Highway 194, then east on Highway 194 six miles to the fort..
From Las Animas, Colorado, on U.S. Highway 50, take Highway 194 west 13 miles.

TRANSPORTATION:

By air there are commercial airlines to Pueblo (75 miles) and Colorado Springs (110 miles). By bus Greyhound serves all surrounding communities. Amtrak trains have a stop in La Junta.

FEES, COST, RATES:

There is a $2.00 per person living history tour fee for anyone 6 years of age and older. There is no entrance fee, therefore federal passports are not honored. Guided tours are available year around, however reservations are required from September through the end of May.

FACILITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES:

Programs/Activities:

A ¼ mile walk down the trail will bring you to the gate of the fort. Inside you can view the 20-minute documentary film, “Castle of the Plains”. Self guided tours and the film are available throughout the year.

The trade room and bookstore offer fur trade and park related books and historically authentic reproduction trade goods for sale.

Guided tours are available June 1 through August 31. Tours for organized groups are available by reservation only from September 1 through May 31.

Lodging and camping facilities:

Camping:
No overnight camping available in the park. La Junta, Las Animas, Rocky Ford and Lamar have accommodations.
Other lodging:
None at the park, available in all surrounding communities
Food/supplies:

None at the park, available in all surrounding communities
Accessibility:

There are accessible rooms and rest rooms on the first floor.

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES/PARK USE:

Guided tours and living history demonstrations offered daily, June 1 through August 31. Special events are scheduled throughout the year.

RESERVATIONS:

Guided tours for organized groups are available by reservation only from September 1 through May 31. Reservation must be made at least 3 weeks in advance by calling (719) 383-5010. Guided tours are offered from June 1 through August 31.

www.coloradovacation.com

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1 Comment »

  1. Mike Steeves Said:

    Please see:

    http://writingplaces.com/imagegalleries/bof/bofgalleriesindex.html

    for a series of photos of Bents’ Old Fort.


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