• Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska

    California

    National Historic Trail CA,CO,ID,KS,MO,NE,NV,OR,UT,WY

Frequently Asked Questions

A graphic of the United States with green labels and yellow circles representing sites of interest.

To learn more about the California National Historic Trail get out on the trail and see it for yourself! See our Places to Go page for an interactive map.

Where can I obtain a map and brochure for the California National Historic Trail?

Trail brochures may be obtained from a number of locations. Many museums and visitor centers along the trail distribute our free brochures. The Places to Go page provides a sample of some of these sites along the trail that may carry our publications. See our Publications page to download brochures directly.

Do you have educational materials for teachers?

We do not currently have any teacher or student specific products. We would be happy to mail you our official trail "map and guide" for your classroom. Send an email to: e-mail us with your contact information, mailing address, and the quantity of guides you need for your class.

How do I visit the California National Historic Trail?

The California National Historic Trail is not like a park with borders. The trail is more like a corridor that passes through a number of states and jurisdictions. See our Plan Your Visit web pages for more information.

Where does the California National Historic Trail begin and end?

The California National Historic Trail is like a frayed rope on the ends: emigrants started at a variety of diffferent places such as Upper Independence Landing at Wayne City in Missouri, St. Joseph, Missouri, and Omaho, Nebraska . The route has a number of end points in California with Sacramento, California being the farthest west.

How many miles long is the trail?

The official trail is about 8,000 miles which encompasses all of the alternates and spur routes. We often say the trail is 2,000 miles which consists of travel from east to west along the trail not including the various alternate routes or spurs.

Which states does the trail pass through?

The California National Historic Trail passes through the following 10 states: Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California.

What year was the California National Historic Trail established?

The California National Historic Trail was established in 1992 by an act of Congress. The Bidwell-Bartleson Company took the first wagon train overland to California in 1841.

What is the difference between the California Trail and the California National Historic Trail?

The California National Historic Trail is a Congressionally designated official route that reflects the research, review, and recommendation of many trail experts at a specific moment in time. The California Trail may refer to any segments, routes, or areas whether they are unofficial or official routes. We only have information regarding the official Congressionally designated route. Occasionally new routes are studied and recommended for inclusion in the official trail. Any new recommendations for routes will be shared publicly for review as a "feasibility study." See our Planning page for any new study routes.

Who owns the California National Historic Trail?

The California National Historic Trail is managed as a conceptual line by us (National Trails Intermountain Region), but the actual route on the ground is managed by a number of public, private, nonprofit, state, county, and local landowners. National Trails Intermountain Region works with these landowners to research, map, protect, preserve, and interpret the historic trail on their properties. It sounds confusing, because it is! To view an interactive map of the official trail visit Places to Go.

Can I follow the California National Historic Trail from end to end?

Many parts of the original wagon trail have been destroyed by development, are under plow, cross military or American Indian tribal reserves, or are otherwise privately owned. There is no public trail right-of-way across reserves and private property. Before entering those lands, you must locate the owners and ask their permission. However, visitors can easily follow parts of the original trail on public lands and approximate the other parts by following the trail's Auto Tour Routes.

How can I learn more about the California National Historic Trail (NHT) and take part in organized activities along the trail?

Two non-profit organizations that research, tour, mark, interpret, and protect the California NHT are the Oregon-California Trails Association and Trails West, Inc. For information about them, visit their websites at www.octa-trails.org and http://emigranttrailswest.org

Did You Know?