http://www.nps.gov/beol/ (official site)
Bent's Fort was a privately owned trading post on the Historic Santa Fe Trail. In the 1830's and 40's the fort's population was a rough mix of American, French and Mexican frontiersmen. Plains Indians were frequent visitors, coming in for trade and to satisfy their curiosity. On several occasions these diverse people were joined by groups of U. S. soldiers.
Bent's Fort quickly became a trading and cultural crossroads. This "Castle on the Plains" was a place where men and cultures met, often for the first time, and mostly in peace. Its history and colorful characters played a central role in the "opening" of the southern Plains.
Today the National Park Service has done an incredible job of reconstruction of the fort as it appeared in 1845-46. Costumed interpreters demonstrate ordinary day-to-day life at the Fort during the summer. You may find them blacksmithing, carpentering, cooking or any of the other tasks done in 1845-46. A bookstore and trade room sell items that will help you recall your visit.
HOW TO GET HERE: Take Highway 194 west from Las Animas, Colorado (15 miles) or take Highway 194 east from La Junta, Colorado (8 miles).
HOURS: Summer - 8:00 am to 5:30 p.m. daily (Memorial through Labor Day) Winter - 9:00 am to 4:00 p.m. daily (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) TOURS: 45 minutes - on the hour (summer). Self guided tours permitted all day every day. VIDEO: 20 minutes - every half hour or on request. FEES: $2.00 per person Children under 17 - Free Golden Eagle, Golden Age & Golden Access Pass-holders - Free SPECIAL EVENTS: July 4, 1996 Independence Day July 25-27, 1996 Santa Fe Trail Auto Tour August 3, 1996 Kid's Quarters August 25, 1996 Founders Day December 13-14, 1996 Christmas Celebration FOR INFORMATION: CALL (719) 384-2596, FAX (719) 384-2615 or write to Bent's Old Fort NHS, 35110 Highway 194 E., La Junta, CO 81050