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National Trails & Historic Sites

National Trails & Historic Sites

A key ingredient to the enchantment that is the essence of New Mexico’s therapeutic ambiance is nature—vast desert expanses, rough mountainous terrain, rivers, streams, big sky, and trails. Fifty years ago, prescient political and ideological alliances forged two federal conservation acts that transformed New Mexico. One of the champions of that legislation was former U.S. Interior Secretary Stewart L. Udall, who proved to be a great friend to the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. This year, the United States celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the National Trails System Act, and the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, both passed in 1968.

New Mexico has three National Historic Trails, one National Scenic Trail, and thirty National Recreation Trails. The three National Historic Trails are:

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (period of significance, 1598–1882) connected Mexico City with Santa Fe in New Mexico. At 1600 miles, it was nearly twice as long as the Santa Fe Trail and was in use nearly 300 years.

Santa Fe Trail (period of significance, 1821–1880) started at Independence, Missouri and ran for 900 miles before reaching New Mexico’s capitol city;

Old Spanish Trail (period of significance, 1829–1848) follows ancient Native American routes and covers 2,700 miles over six states as it traces a route from Santa Fe through Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and ends in Los Angeles, California.

A portion of the National Scenic Trail the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) meanders through New Mexico. The CDT is 3100 miles along the spine of the Rocky Mountains and traversing five states between Mexico and Canada.

New Mexico boasts five designated Wild and Scenic Rivers:

  • Rio Grande: from the Colorado state line to the village of Velarde.
  • Red River: lower four miles of the Red River above confluence with Rio Grande.
  • Rio Chama: from immediately south of El Vado Dam downstream 24.6 miles.
  • Pecos River: from headwaters in the Pecos Wilderness to the village of Tererro.
  • East Fork of Jemez River: from Santa Fe National Forest boundary to its confluence with the Rio San Antonio.

On June 2, 2018, National Trails Day, the City of Santa Fe will host a day of activities to include a ribbon cutting marking the opening of the Buckman Road trail segment along the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail (NHT).

In June, new displays are planned at the Coronado Historic Site for the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act featuring the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.

In partnership with the Old Spanish Trail Association Salida de Sol Chapter, Jemez Historic Site is currently working towards identifying the route taken by Antonio Armijo through Jemez Province in April of 1830. Plans to recreate this journey with researchers from the Chapter are set for June 16.

Other events celebrating trails:

  • Aug 12: Pueblo Independence Day commemorated at Jemez Historic Site;
  • Aug 15–Oct 6: Dig Giusewa, archaeological dig at the Jemez Historic Site every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday
  • Oct 20: Fiesta of Cultures at Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo commemorates Trails Day with a series of events.
  • Oct 20: Voices from the Past: Moonlight Tour at Fort Selden, walk on an authentic portion of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. Meet historical figures from the past camped at Paraje de Robledo!

Jemez and Fort Selden Historic Sites, Wednesday–Sunday, 8:30 a.m– 5 p.m; Coronado Historic Site, Wednesday–Monday, 8:30 a.m–5 p.m; Coronado Historic offers free, docent-led tours on the hour between 10 a.m and 3 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults; children 16 and under are free. Free to NM residents with ID on the first Friday of each month and to NM Seniors with ID on Wednesdays. A combination ticket, good for admission to both Jemez and Coronado Historic Sites, is $7.

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