One of the wonders of Colorado is the incredible dichotomy between the plains of Eastern Colorado and the Rockies to the West. Southeast Colorado is home to Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site in Otero County. This Colorado fort is famous for being the only major American permanent settlement along the Santa Fe Trail.

Bent’s Old Fort was built in 1833 as a trading post for the quickly expanding St. Vrain Company. At this fort, Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians traded buffalo robes for necessary supplies. The fort was the strongest structure west of Ft. Leavenworth until it was mysteriously destroyed in 1849.

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Today, Bent’s Old Fort has been reconstructed with nearly perfect authenticity as a result of archaeological excavation and other first-hand sources describing the Fort’s 19th century architecture. Inside the fort, visitors can find rooms that passing traders would have used as well as recreation areas and general stores.

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The fort is also famous as the setting for several episodes of CBS’s show The Chisholms. In addition, people can visit Bent’s Old Fort virtually in Rockstar Games’ Red Dead Redemption.

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To get to the fort, travel south from Denver to Pueblo, and then take US 50 east for 70 miles. Make sure to check out Bent’s Old Fort Hiking Trail, a mile and a half trail that winds along the Arkansas River with a self-guided tour about the local ecosystem. To access the historic site, entry fee is $3 for adults and $2 for children 6-12.

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