Bents Old Fort is a reconstruction of a 1840s trading post. Now under the watchful eye of the National Parks Service, the original adobe fort was one of the few white settlements on the Sante Fe trail west of Missouri.
Although the Fort may not be worth a detour to many people, if you are in the area, and have any interest in 19th century US frontier history, Bents Old Fort not only shows the physical layout of how such an establishment was run, but also gives a good indication of the kind of natural elements the people who managed and traded at the fort lived with. With summer temperatures that can go above 100 F, and winter ones that can drop to 0 F during the day, the very brief quarter of a mile walk down the path from the arrivals area, to the fort gates, is a good indicator of how tough people had to be to cope with weather extremes.
At the fort today there’s a 20 minute video presentation that tells the fort’s story, and there are demonstrations and exhibits. You can take either a self-guided tour, or alternatively join a guided tour which in the summer are lead by living history interpreters. There are a number of special events that happen throughout the summer, some of which are specifically aimed at kids, and a visit to the national park website will identify when these take place.
Whether you have an interest in military life of the time, the wagon trains, the explorers who opened up the west, or just want to give your kids some kind of “live” history experience to help their school studies – look around the store to see what kind of diet those who lived in, or travelled through the area lived on – a trip to Bents Old Fort will have something to interest you.