There is currently thirteen National Park Service Site in Colorado and four associated sites.

Official National Parks of Colorado

  • Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
  • Colorado National Monument
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Great Sand Dunes National Preserve
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site
  • Yucca House National Monument

Associated sites of Colorado

  • California National Historic Trail
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail

National Parks of California Map

Colorado Placeholder
Colorado

California National Parks

Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado National Monument

Curecanti National Recreation Area

Dinosaur National Monument

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Preserve

Hovenweep National Monument

Mesa Verde National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

Yucca House National Monument

California National Historic Trail

The California National Historic Trail is a massive 5,000 mile trail and runs thru 10 different states.  This trail retraces the overland routes over 250,000 emigrants took to reach the fertile farmlands and famed gold fields of California in the 1840’s and 1850’s.

Unlike some of the other trails of the National Trails System, the California Trail isn’t a single hiking trail. It is a disconnected series of hiking trails, roads, and sites.  Many of the US highways follow the wagon trail the settlers created as they rushed to California.  Emigrants had a choice of routes across the United States.  These trails start in Missouri and Nebraska. The then run thru Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming before splitting into Idaho and Utah.  They go thru Nevada and into California and Oregon.

Photo Credit – Bureau of Land Management

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

Old Spanish National Historic Trail is a historic trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico with Los Angeles, California.  The trail built upon the known trails established of the Indian Tribes of the region and the Spanish explorers and trappers.  There are several common routes along the Old Spanish Trail depending on who the trade partners were and what they were trading. The Armijo Route provides the most direct route and was often a yearly trip for traders along the route.  The trial saw the most use from 1830s until 1860s.   Large mule pack trains could be seen walking back and forth from Santa Fe to Los Angeles.

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail is mostly an auto trail.  The trail runs thru Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.  Stops can include many other National Parks Service sites in the region.

Photo Credit: NPS

Pony Express National Historic Trail

The Pony Express National Historic Trail follows the 1860 and 1861 mail route used by the Pony Express to transport mail between Missouri to California. The Pony Express used a relay of horse-mounted riders. The system was set-up so that riders would ride between 186 Pony Express stations. The stations were between 5-25 miles apart. At each station, the rider would switch to a fresh horse and continue on their journey. The Pony Express reduced the time to for a letter to travel across the US from six months to 10 days. After 18 months of speedy mail delivery, the Pony Express was replaced with the telegraph.

Pony Express National Historic Trail was declared a National Historic Trail on August 3, 1992. Today it is mostly an auto-touring route starting in Missouri and traveling through Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada on the way to California. There are sections of the trail where visitors can hike or ride along the trail. The trail is still being developed for tourism but there are several stations and museums along the route so visitors can learn more about the Pony Express.

In Colorado, visitors can explore the Fort Sedwick Depot Museum, the Upper California Crossing, and Julesburg No. 1.

Photo Credit: NPS

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Santa Fe National Historic Trail was a freight transportation route from Franklin, Missouri, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. The route runs through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico. The trail splits in Kansas into the Mountain Route which heads further west into Colorado before heading south and the Cimarron Cutoff which crosses the Cimarron Desert and goes through Oklahoma. The trail was established in 1822 to encourage trade between the US and Mexico.

Today, visitors to the Santa Fe National Historic Trail is an autoroute. Along the way, there are many local, state and federal sites to explore to learn more about the route and the region’s history. Autograph Rock near Boise City, Oklahoma was an important stopping place as it was one of the few year-round water sources in this region.

Santa Fe National Historic Trail was created in 1987.

Photo Credit: NPS

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