Things To Do

Photo image of the landmark feature known as the Devil's Gate.

The Wagner Perspective

There are a number of ways to enjoy the California National Historic Trail, including auto-touring, visiting interpretive sites, hiking, biking or horseback riding trail segments, and visiting museums. Depending on which segment you would like to explore, some or all of these activities may be available.

Although the word "trail" is used in the name, the California NHT is not a true hiking trail. With 2,000 miles of the original route now in the hands of various private and public entities, access to trail segments depends upon the permission of the land owner. Some segments are open to the public for hiking and other means of recreation, while others are not.

Following is a list of recommended pages for visiting for the California NHT. Inquiries about segments not listed are best made locally. For more information, see the Links and Resources, Places To Go, and the pages for the Auto Tour Route driving directions.



The National Park Service does not offer any camping facilities along the trail. Inquire with local land managers (see Links and Resources page for contact information).

Short Hikes (usually less than 300 yards) to trail ruts or historic sites

  • Minor Park Ruts, Red Bridge Crossing of the Blue River in Kansas City, MO
  • Alcove Springs in Blue Rapids, KS
  • Rock Creek Station in Fairbury, NE
  • California Hill in Brule, NE
  • Ash Hollow State Historical Park in Lewellen, NE
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument/Mitchell Pass in Gering, NE
  • Fort Laramie NHS/Bedlam Ruts in Fort Laramie, WY
  • Register Cliff/Deep Rut Hill in Guernsey, WY
  • Avenue of Rocks on Poison Spider Road west of Casper, WY
  • Independence Rock on the Sweetwater River in WY
  • Devils Gate on the Sweetwater River in WY
  • South Pass near South Pass, WY
  • Thompson Pass on Lander Road, WY
  • Massacre Rocks west of American Falls, ID on I-86
  • City of Rocks NP/Pinnacle Pass in Almo, ID
  • Grayback Hills Swale north of I-80, west of Grayback Hills in UT
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park, Nobles Road-Hwy 89 in northern California

Long Hikes (extensive trail segments)

  • South Pass Segment: Independence Rock to Parting of the Ways, 125 miles
  • South Pass near South Pass City, WY Lander Road: LaBarge Creek Ranger Station to Smith's Fork, WY, approx. 10 miles
  • Bear River Divide Segment: US 189 to WY 89, 31 miles
  • Little Emigration Canyon: Mormon Flat to Big Mountain, 4.5 miles
  • Red Lake Pass to Carson Pass: Carson Route Hwy 88, CA

4x4 and Horse Access (extensive trail segments)

  • Oregon Trail Road: Mills, WY to WYO-220 just north of Independence Rock, 41.5 miles
  • South Pass Segment: Independence Rock to Parting of the Ways, 125 miles Lander Road: Burnt Ranch, WY to Fort Hall, ID, approx. 250 miles
  • Parting of the Ways: end of the South Pass segment Bear River Divide Segment: US 189 to WY 89, 31 miles
  • Fort Bridger to Muddy Creek: approx. 14 miles
  • Skull Valley UT Segment: Timpi Spring to Aragonite Exit on I-80, approx. 45 miles
  • California Trail Backcountry Byway: Goose Creek to Hwy 93, in northeast NV, approx. 50 miles

Trail Museums

  • National Frontier Trails Center in Independence, MO
  • Western Historic Trails Center in Council Bluffs, IA
  • Chimney Rock NHS in Bridgeport, NE
  • Scotts Bluff National Monument in Gering, NE
  • National Historic Trails Interpretive Center, Casper, WY
  • Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, UT

Last updated: February 14, 2019

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Mailing Address:

National Trails Intermountain Region
California National Historic Trail
PO Box 728

Santa Fe, NM 87504


(801) 741-1012

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