Colorado Nature July 17, 2019
The Colorado Scenic Byway That Is The Definition Of A Hidden Gem
Anytime we discover (or re-discover) a must-drive Colorado road, we want to gas up the car, buckle our seatbelts, and hit the road… but not until we share said road with you, of course! If you love driving around the Centennial State and learning even more about our incredible history, you are going to want to take this Colorado scenic byway that is the definition of a hidden gem:
Winding through southern Colorado is the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway; a glorious 188-mile drive that is as historic as it is beautiful.
Designated a National Scenic Byway in 1998, the Santa Fe Trail Byway follows the path of - you guessed it! - the original Santa Fe Trail, which was a heavily-trafficked trade route from the 1820s to the 1870s.
While there may not be as many covered wagons and horses as there once were along the road, you can still see many of the trail's original attractions during your drive, including Bent's Old Fort in La Junta...
Founded in 1833, the Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site was once a vital trading post for trappers, hunters, and traders (not to mention the only major white American settlement between Missouri and Mexico).
...Comanche National Grassland...
What makes this 443,081-acre grassland so important? It is home to not only a segment of the old Santa Fe Trail but also ancient cliff-side petroglyphs that are estimated to be 8,000+ years old! If you think that is cool, be sure also to check out
: the largest track site for dinosaurs in the country that boasts some 1,500 individual prints!
...And historic towns like Las Animas, Lamar, and Trinidad (pictured).
Don't just fly by these towns; stop in and stay awhile, as they all offer charming shops, delicious restaurants, and a must-see museum or two.
Do you have a few vacation days left? Then we recommend traveling the entire Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway, which spans not only southern Colorado but also New Mexico, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma!
If you can only do the Colorado portion at this time, plan to be on the road for 4 to 5 hours.
For more information on the Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway, please visit the Colorado Department of Transportation's
Have you traveled the Santa Fe Trail? Which spots were your favorite? We would love to hear about it in the comments! Since you will be in the La Junta area, you may also want to read
This One Small Colorado Town Has More Outdoor Attractions Than Any Other Place In The State.