Resources and Library:

Long Distance Trails

Hosted by

The mission of the Santa Fe Trail Association is to protect and preserve the Santa Fe Trail and to promote awareness of the historical legacy associated with it.


Santa Fe Trail Association emphasizes education and preservation

By Joanne VanCoevern, Manager, Santa Fe Trail Association

photo of trail through red rock desert

Westport Landing on the Missouri River

In 1821, the Santa Fe Trail became America's first great international commercial highway, and for nearly sixty years thereafter was one of the nation's great routes of adventure and western expansion.

Mindful of this, the Santa Fe Trail Association (SFTA), a non-profit association with a 501 (c)(3) status, was created in 1986 to help protect and preserve it. The U.S. Congress likewise recognized the significance of the Trail to American history by proclaiming it a National Historic Trail in 1987. The Association works in Partnership with the National Park Service to administer the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

The Santa Fe Trail Association is composed of people of all ages and walks of life who are bound together by an interest in the fascinating saga of the Santa Fe Trail. Our membership also shares an interest in preserving its many physical traces and landmarks that still exist upon the face of the American West. While many of our members live in the immediate vicinity of the Trail, the SFTA is proud to claim members from all over the United States and even a few international members. Located along the Trail are twelve chapters that concentrate their efforts on their specific areas.

photo of trail through red rock desert

Dragoon Creek Crossing in Osage County

The mission of the Santa Fe Trail Association is to protect and preserve the Santa Fe Trail and to promote awareness of the historical legacy associated with it. The Association has a variety of programs that emphasize education, preservation, research, mapping, marking and documenting events that occurred along the Santa Fe Trail.

Our quarterly publication, Wagon Tracks, keeps our membership linked with news from the Association, as well as recent scholarly research articles. We hold an annual meeting the 3rd weekend of September. Chapters hold meetings from quarterly to monthly, and provide tours to local sites.

Three of our recent/current projects include a Trailwide Kiosk Project, a Cooperative Signage Project, and the SFTA Rediscovery Project. All are in cooperation with the National Park Service.

photo of trail through red rock desert

Westport Landing on the Missouri River

The Trailwide Kiosk Project is designed to provide visitors with an orientation to the Santa Fe National Historic Trail, to interpret local Santa Fe Trail history and to inform the visitor of significant Santa Fe Trail sites to the east and to the west of the particular location. Six Kiosks have already been placed along the Trail and at least three more are in the planning stage.

The Cooperative Signage Project includes a family of signs that include the trademarked SFNHT logo. The signs, designed by the NPS, can be placed by SFTA Chapters designating either "rut”, “crossing”, “tour”, or “site” along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail.

These signs create a unique opportunity for visitors by helping them to find roads, trail segments, and sites where history was created.

The Rediscovery Project began in 2006, with the goals of:

1.) Visit as many Trail sites as possible, document conditions, levels of visitor services and interpretive media, potential threats to resources, and management issues;

2.) Take documentary photographs and GPS coordinates;

photo of trail through red rock desert

Local Tour sign for the trail

3.) arrange with local Santa Fe Trail Association chapter members to provide assistance to the survey team and input on the local trail resources;

4.) prepare a final report with copies of all site forms and photographs provided to the National Park Service and the Santa Fe Trail Association headquarters; and

5.) to recommend sites that need additional development and interpretation, sites with resource management and protection needs, and sites that should not be developed and should be left in their existing condition. During the initial survey, 339 sites were visited and assessed. You can see more about the SFNHT at:

A highlight of each year is our annual meeting held in September. In 2012, Rendezvous, will be held in Larned, KS, Sept 20-22. The theme chosen for this year’s Rendezvous is “Santa Fe Trail Characters – Rendezvous on the Road.” William Becknell, Julia Archibald Holmes, Pedro Sandoval, John Calhoun, Kit Carson, Marion Sloan Russell, Alexander Majors, James Kirker, Maria De La Luz Beaubien Maxwell and Wild Bill Hickok are some of the characters that will be highlighted. An afternoon bus tour will take us to the Cheyenne and Sioux Indian Village site destroyed by General Winfield Hancock’s troops in 1867.

A visit to Fort Larned National Historic Site will feature an evening dinner and program in the quartermaster building, after the retreat ceremony. The Santa Fe Trail character featured for the evening’s program will be Frontier Army Officer Edwin Vose Sumner. In 2013, our Symposium will be held in Ulysses, KS and the theme will be, “Surviving the Plains”. Plans are already underway for the 2015 Symposium to be hosted by the End of the Trail Chapter in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

For more information...

To learn more about the Santa Fe Trail Association and its projects, visit:

Print Friendly
Print Friendly and PDF




Facebook Twitter

Stay up to date on legislative issues for trails, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


business directory


trail database

Need trail skills and education? Do you provide training? Join the National Trails Training Partnership!

The NTTP Online Calendar connects you with courses, conferences, and trail-related training

arrowEnjoy and share the new online, digital version of the American Trails Magazine!

arrowHelp us provide you more useful resources to keep you on the cutting-edge -- please join today!

arrowWe are advocating for your interests! Visit the Supporting Trails page to view the latest in legislative news, current issues, and opportunities, and to learn how to access funding.

arrow Sign me up for American Trails Action Alerts and e-Newsletters">Sign up for American Trails Action Alerts and Trail Tracks e-Newsletters.


PDF  Some of our documents are in PDF format and require free Adobe Acrobat Reader software.
  Download Acrobat Reader

section 508 logo American Trails and NTTP support accessibility with Section 508: read more.