SantaFeTrail is one of those American icons that conjures up thoughts of the Old West and the frontier of America. It, just like Route 66 and the Oregon Trail, is a part of American History that becomes a must see and must experience journey. The Santa Fe Trail was begun over 190 years ago and it still captures the imagination of people from all over the world,just as it did those early years.
Thousands of men and women followed the Santa Fe Trail in the footsteps of Kit Carson and many other famous travelers,traders and soldiers on what became first known as the Commerce Road. Unlike the Oregon Trail,emigrants were few in number on the Santa Fe Trail. Their place was taken by merchants,traders,soldiers, and young adventurers. Most adventurers that left civilization and headed west had thoughts of the hardships of this long trail such as Indian attacks, blizzards, illness, and the persistent shortage of water. Those dangers don't exist now in the 21st century for adventurers traveling the old SantaFeTrail but you can still get a good taste of the old days by following this famous trace.
Etched in an obscure rock face in the panhandle of Oklahoma, you can still view the names of some of those early adventurers. You can get the feeling that they are still with you along the trail.
Between 1823 and 1885, many people left their graffiti and names along the trail. Due to the arid climate of the high plains, these autographs look surprisingly fresh.
The the obvious place to start a tour of the Santa Fe Trail would be at Independence Missouri. Although it wasn't the original starting point, it eventually became a jumping off point for both the Oregon and the Santa Fe Trail. A serious traveler will start at Courthouse Square in Independence, Missouri and head West through Westport and on to Gardner, Kansas and points beyond.
One of the great things about traveling the SantaFeTrail is it does have an abundance of markers to keep you on or as close to the old trace as possible.
To those campers out on this great Western adventure across the High Plains, I recommend that you study your route very carefully and plan the campsites well in advance. There are excellent places to camp along the Santa Fe Trail but even today the distances on the Great Plains are vast.
Travelers setting out on the Santa Fe Trail from Independence need to stop by the old Mahaffey Farmstead and stagecoach station in Olathe, Kansas. This is the only former stagecoach stop and residence open to the public on the entire Santa Fe Trail. As you follow the trail you will want to visit Gardner Kansas. The city of Gardner is the point where the Santa Fe and
separated. There's a nice park with a gazebo and shade where Travelers can ponder; left or right; Santa Fe or Oregon? It's a wonderful way to start a journey West.
TRAVELING THE SANTAFETRAIL
I've included a link to the SantaFeTrail research site, this will help you on your journey. This site will list all points of interest on the old trail that are too numerous for me to mention that this website.
I am writing this page the summer 2011 it is now June and I'm on my ninth or 10th trip along the SantaFeTrail. It's been 12 years since I last journeyed west on this old trace and I must say it hasn't changed much. It still holds the same mystique it did for me the first time I ever set out in an automobile and viewed the wagon ruts left behind by thousands of travelers over 60 years that it was in use.
The only way to really view the Santa Fe Trail, or any historical trail, leave the interstates behind and get out on the country roads and live the adventure.
We highly recommend the
Clayton New Mexico KOA
as an oasis along the way. Be sure to pack clothing that is warm because it does get cold out here no matter what time year on the high plains of the American West.
End of the Trail
Modern Day Sante Fe Artisan Market