Bent's Old Fort:
A Castle on the Plains
History literally comes alive at Bent's Fort on the Arkansas River near La Junta. Painstakingly reconstructed, this impressive, two-story adobe fort gives real time experience of 1840s life at this famous trading post on the Santa Fe Trail. Visitors are free to roam from room to room while interpretive guides provide details, demonstrations and memorable stories about the extraordinary people who lived and traded at this amazing place. Bent's Fort is a national historic site operated by the National Park Service.
Described as a castle or a "merchant ship on the High Plains," Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site features a remarkable, large two story adobe fort reconstructed from drawings, letters, surveys of the historic site and other extensive methods, all compiled to recreate the famous 1840s fur trading post on the mountain branch of the Santa Fe Trail. For the years it was in operation, Bent's Fort was a flourishing trade center and gathering place where traders, trappers, travelers, and the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes came together in peaceful terms for trade. It was years ahead of its time, not only in the integrity of its architecture and location as the tallest building between Missouri and the Pacific Ocean but also in the cultural diversity and enrichment promoted on a daily basis.
Today, living historians recreate the sights, sounds, and smells of the past with guided tours, demonstrations and special events like the "Living Encampment" where visitors can learn from site interpreters about trading sessions, Indian sign language, freighting with oxen, carpentry, and blacksmithing, making of adobe bricks, cooking over an open hearth, historic gardening, bullet making, or hide skinning. Visitors are also invited to browse from room to room as they get a feel, first hand, of life at the fort in the 1840s. A store is also on site where books, common products, and goods appropriate to the time are sold to the public.
The fort, which is managed and operated by the National Park Service, is open 7 days a week. Winter hours are 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM from September 1 through May 31. Summer hours are 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM from June 1 through August 31.
Bent's Fort will be closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
Winter: September 1 through May 31, 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Summer: June 1 through August 31, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
$3 for 12 years old and older
$2 for children 6 to 12 years old
Free to children under 6 years old
35110 State Highway 194 E.
La Junta, CO 81050
35110 State Highway 194 E.
La Junta, Colorado
Bent's Fort is accessed via U.S. Highway 50 and 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.
Set your GPS to 35110 State Highway 194 E., La Junta, CO.
By TrainAmtrak trains have a stop in La Junta. Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site is located eight miles east of La Junta and 15 miles west of Las Animas on Colorado State Highway 194 in Southeast Colorado.
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