Bent’s Old Fort Is Colorado’s Most Visited Historical Site
Bent's Old Fort is a treasured piece of Colorado's storied history in the 1800s.
Bent's Old Fort Was a Trading Post
When you think of a fort, you automatically think of war and military, but that is not what Bent's Old Fort is about, although it was used briefly as a staging area for the army during the Mexican- American War in 1846.
Bent's Old Fort was built in 1833 by Charles Bent, William Bent, and Ceran St. Vrain to trade with Indians and trappers. For 16 years, not only was it a trading post it was a stopping point for the U.S. Army, explorers, and travelers who needed to stock up on supplies like food and water, and to do wagon maintenance.
The fort shut down in 1849 in the midst of a cholera epidemic - and much of it ended up being burned.
Historic Designation and Reconstruction
In 1960, the fort area was designated a National Historic Site and later that year received the designations of National Historic Landmark. Based on archaeological excavations, paintings, sketches, diaries, and historical data, the fort was reconstructed in 1976 and opened to the public.
Today the fort is open to visitors year-round. You can do a self-guided tour or take a tour with an interpreter in period clothing who can talk about the history of Bent's Old Fort. In addition to touring the fort, visitors can take the mile and a half hike on Bent's Old Fort Hiking Trail, and visit the Western National Park's bookstore for gifts, books and souvenirs.
An analysis of historical sites across the country by Outdoorsy revealed Bent's Old Fort is the most popular historical site in Colorado with more than 12,000 visitors last year representing more than 21,000 recreation hours over nearly 800 acres.
The fort is located near La Junta, Colorado in the southeast corner of the state. In case that's too far to drive, take a moment to scroll through the photos of Bent's Old Fort. It's the next best thing to being there.
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