Table of Contents
Bent’s Old Fort is a National Park Service Historic Site approximately three hours from Denver in La Junta, Colorado.
The fort is at 35110 State Highway 194, La Junta, Colorado 81050.
There is an entry fee of $3 per adult (13+) and $2 per child (6-12).
This historic site is part of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail that runs through Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
Upon arriving in the parking lot, there was a covered picnic table area that has educational signs, and a restroom. There were a few RVs in the parking lot. Bent’s Old Fort offers a guided tour, a self-guided tour, and occasionally has special events.
Guided tours are offered daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Please call to verify tour availability and schedule before planning your visit. The guided tours may vary based on staffing levels. They are not available during special events.
Do you want to explore on your own? You can take a self-guided tour. There are self-guided tour booklets available for no additional charge upon entering the site.
Our Experience At Bent's Old Fort
In June 2021, we visited Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site. We were visiting the area as part of a camping trip in La Junta. On the first day of our camping trip, we went to the Sand Creek Massacre Site in Eads, Colorado.
We left the campground to the fort early the second morning. We enjoyed the beautiful drive through the countryside. There were hardly any cars on the road, especially as we got closer.
We made it to the parking area, which is where the covered picnic area is. Our goal was to go to the 10:00 a.m. guided tour. We were unsure of where the guided tour started but quickly figured out that the guided tour was down the pathway at the historic building site.
It turns out that we were a little early and the tour guide was a little late. This allowed us an opportunity to wander around while we waited for the tour to begin. The courtyard had a friendly fort cat and a peacock strolling around. There was an interpreter dressed in historical clothing working on building a fire.
The guided tour included a room-by-room explanation of what life was like at the fort. The interpreter was very knowledgeable about the details of life at Bent’s Old Fort. My youngest son and I left the tour to explore on our own. He was also very interested in the gift shop. My oldest son stayed on the guided tour to continue learning about life at the fort.
Bent's Old Fort Trail
There is a trail that you can walk on around the back of the fort. We did not explore the mile-and-a-half nature trail. In a passing conversation, one of the interpreters mentioned that there were horses at the back of the fort. It turns out there were Red Devon oxen, Spanish Barb horses, and a molly mule roaming around the property.
During the guided tour, we learned about the reconstruction process of the fort. The fort that we now see was not the original structure at the site. U.S. Army Lieutenant James Abert had visited the original fort due to illness. While the Lieutenant was there, he created detailed drawings of daily life, people who traveled through, and measurements of the building. Largely thanks to the Lieutenant, the fort was able to be reconstructed in 1975.
Learn More About Bent's Old Fort
Video Colorado Experience: Bent’s Fort from the Rocky Mountain PBS YouTube Channel.
Life on and around Bent’s Old Fort is described in this 28-minute long video.
John Carson, Park Ranger & Great Grandson of Kit Carson, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
Dr. William J. Convery, State History, History Colorado
Greg Holt, Lead Interpreter, at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site.
Rick Wallner, Chief of Interpretation, Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
The video discusses Arapaho, Bent’s New Fort, Charlotte Green, Cheyenne, Comanche, Dick Green, fur trading, John C. Fremont, Santa Fe Trail, Susan Magoffin, trade routes, and William Bent.