Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, we recently hopped in the car and headed east. Perfectly situated for a day-trip, we set our sites on Bent’s Old Fort, located in Otero County. We decided it would be a great opportunity to explore what life was like on the eastern plains of Colorado during the pioneer era.
Built in 1833, for sixteen years, the fort operated as a hub of trading on the Santa Fe Trail. Trappers would stop here to peddle their wares. The Southern Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes would bring their buffalo robes. And explorers and travelers would seek food and supplies, as well as shelter from the weather within its adobe walls. Sadly the original fort was burned down in the 1850’s. The current fort is a reconstruction based on archeological findings, original sketches, paintings and other information available from the period when the fort was active. However, it still provides an excellent glimpse into what it would have been like to stop here in your covered wagon while traveling west.
This would be a great trip for homeschooling families and anyone interested in history. Self-guided and guided tours are available. And while the fort is rather isolated, food, lodging and gas can easily be found in nearby La Junta.
For more information on Bent’s Old Fort, visit the National Park Service at https://www.nps.gov/beol/index.htm.