Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Santa Fe National Historic Trail on the road east of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The Santa Fe Trail was a trading route established in the early 1800s, spanning 1,200 miles of Kansas across the prairie lands to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The trail was well-known for its many dangers and raids by the Comanches and Apaches eventually compelled Congress in 1825 to fund federal protection for Americans along the route. Much of this land had already been claimed by Mexico and in 1846, the Mexican-American War erupted. The trail was used heavily by the U.S. military during the conflict.

After the railroad, use of the trail fell dramatically. The Santa Fe Trail National Scenic Byway today consists of a number of roads that follow the trail’s original route. Some areas can be found along the route which have been preserved in a natural state.