Even though it is not an official part of the Byway, your journey begins in Santa Fe, to see the prize trail explorers sought. As you begin exploring this intriguing Spanish outpost, which a second day lets you explore more in depth. On Day Three, you’ll be traveling the original Santa Fe route to Trinidad. Plan to rise early on Day Four to drive the rest of the route exploring La Junta, Las Animas and Lamar, all steeped in southwestern culture. Bent’s Old Fort and Boggsville will introduce you to locations that were on the route when frontiersmen made their way to Santa Fe. At the end of a very full Day Four, stay in Lamar before moving on. The locations included in this experience are those that would have existed on the Santa Fe Trail during its heyday.
Santa Fe Trail and Trinidad History Museum Complex
Filling an entire city block, the Trinidad History Museum includes the Santa Fe Trail Museum, an 1870s adobe Baca House, 1882 Victorian style Bloom Mansion and the Borderlands of Southern Colorado exhibit.Together, the locations along with the Baca-Bloom Heritage Gardens, recount the history of the city from the mid-1850s to the early 1930s. Displays of historic photographs, commercial goods, and family heirlooms from Trail will be of interest to travelers on the Trail. A fringed buckskin coat that Kit Carson gave to a pioneer mayor is a local treasure.
Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site
For much of its 16-year history, Bent’s Old Fort was the only permanent settlement on the Santa Fe Trail between Missouri and the Spanish. The fort a place to get supplies, repairs, livestock, food, water and company. During the Mexican War, the fort served as a staging area for Colonel Kearny’s “Army of the West.” The influence of the fort soon reached out to Texas, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Missouri. Archaeological excavations and original sketches, paintings, and diaries were used to replicate the 1840 adobe fort.
Historic Walking Tour of Santa Fe
The Plaza in front of La Fonda Hotel has been the center of Santa Fe since it was founded. Historic buildings radiate out from there. Start your visit with the historic walking tour of downtown historic Santa Fe (pdf included with the detailed itinerary) which begins at the New Mexico State Capitol and introduces you to the historic core of the city.
Boggsville Historic Site
Even though it was officially established in 1866, Boggsville entered the history of Colorado when Zebulon Pike camped on the banks of the Purgatoire in 1806 followed by Major Long in 1820 and Jacob Fowler in 1821. Thomas Boggs came to the region in 1840 to work as Bent’s Old Fort, learning the language of 11 Indians tribes, plus Spanish. In 1858 he acquired a Mexican land grant through his wife. John Prowers also found employment with William Bent, moving to Boggsville in 1867. Boggs good friend, Kit Carson secured his own land grant south of Boggsville also moving in 1867. By 1873, Boggsville had over 30 buildings housing farmers, cowboys, store clerks, a teacher, and more. The Boggs and the Prowers houses have been restored to appear as they would have in 1867.
A.R. Mitchell Museum of Western Art
Located in the historic 1906 Jamieson’s Department Store with pressed tin ceilings and a horseshoe shaped mezzanine, the museum features the work of Arthur Roy Mitchell, King of the Pulp Western Cover Artists. His iconic western scenes of cowboys, horses and cattle have captured the hearts and minds of pulp western readers from the 1920s to today.
San Miguel Chapel
William Becknell and his party would have passed San Miguel Chapel when they arrived in Santa Fe, since it dates from 1710. Early documentation shows a Chapel constructed in 1628, oral history has it dating from 1610, while other materials note 1598 believed it was constructed by Tiaxcalan Indians who came from Mexico as a part of a Spanish contingent of soldiers. It was reconstructed after a fire in the 1680s, with the beautiful altar screen installed in 1798 and the bell in 1856.
Palace of The Governors
The Palace of the Governors, dating from 1610, is the nation’s oldest operating government building. Now part of New Mexico’s state history museum, exhibits chronicle the region’s history from the arrival of Coronado’s expedition in 1540 to statehood in 1912 and today. The structure has four-foot thick walls, long galleries, small rooms and courtyard mirrors all needed to increase security on the remote frontier.
Art Galleries of Santa Fe
Santa Fe is the art lover’s city! There are nearly 30 art galleries downtown and another 75 on Canyon Road. Relax, savor and explore!
To experience all that the Follow the Way West tour has to offer, click below to purchase the complete itinerary! By purchasing this tour itinerary, you'll receive a professionally crafted trip route allowing you to fully experience the incredible story of the byway! Included in your trip planner is a detailed map of the area attractions in geographic order, a suggested day-by-day route plan, as well as traveler-tested recommendations for dining, shopping, and accommodations for each segment of this epic journey. Contact the National Travel Center with any additional questions.