Entrance to Bent's Old Fort Free Today, April 16, 2022

Description: The cannon and Conestoga wagon were saved from the wildfire as was the fort itself at Bents Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta, Colorado. (Photo Credit: Sue Keefer)

Free Entry at Bent's Old Fort Today, April 16

By Sue Keefer

        Visitors to Bent's Old Fort today, April 16, will not have to pay any entrance fees, in celebration of National Park Week, April 16-24.

        Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site reopened Friday following the fire Tuesday. When we arrived at the parking lot at about 1:30 p.m., there were four cars and a motorcycle there. The docent greeting us inside the fort told us we brought the total visitation up to 22 for the day. Several people came in after while we were inside the fort. We toured the fort, noting some new items since we were last there, and visited the animals. We also stopped by the bookstore, always a must. When we were leaving, we noticed several waterfowl swimming in the largest of the marsh ponds.

A view of the burn scar around the main path from one of the gun ports at Bents Old Fort National Historic Site. (Photo Credit: Sue Keefer)

         As reported earlier, the fire did not damage the exterior or interior of the fort; however, charred areas show just how close the fire came.

         Visitors should be aware that the parking lot area, the trail to the fort and the fort itself are the only places accessible to visitors. All other trails remain closed. Crews were still working in areas closer to the river, dealing with hotspots and assessing damage.

         Bent's Old Fort is located on Highway 194 between La Junta and Las Animas. The fort is accessed via U.S. Highway 50 and Highway 194. From La Junta, Colorado on U.S. Highway 50, take Highway 109 north 1 mile to Highway 194, then east on Highway 194 six miles to the fort. From Las Animas, Colorado, from U.S. Highway 50, take the Highway 194 exit off of Highway 50 and go west 13 miles. Set your GPS to 35110 State Highway 194 E., La Junta, CO.

For more information, go to https://www.nps.gov/beol/index.htm

About The Author: Sue Keefer is a regular SECO News contributor and avid wildlife photographer. More of her work can be seen on her Facebook Page: Scene in The Wild Photography

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Photo Gallery by Sue Keefer

This view shows how close the fire came to the main entrance of the fort.

The cannon and Conestoga wagon were saved.

This old cottonwood and its log bench is always a favorite spot to take a breather when walking to and from the fort. Unfortunately, both were victims of the fire.

Burned timbers nearthe west corral wall, from above. Note the slight singe marks on the wall.