Tell-Tale Signs


Look left, look right, look straight ahead — the land has a story to tell. Swells and swales, creek crossings and river routes, deep rutted animal tracks: all these signify an international highway of the past! You can follow American Indian routes that Spaniards used to establish missions in a travel corridor from Mexico City to Santa Fe. Imagine these long-ago times as you travel to historic rendezvous points and scout natural landmarks across the countryside. These tell-tale signs will help you find and explore the many places and stories of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail.

family of road signs
Find out how to create a custom sign plan for your area by working with National Trails Intermountain Region staff.
Auto Tour Route sign
Auto Tour Route signs guide you along all weather roads that more or less follow the historic route of the trail. Look for Historic Site Name signs that clue you into places to experience on the trail. Interstate 25 from Santa Fe to Las Cruces, New Mexico roughly follows the trail corridor. Be sure to get off the interstate at the many sites listed on the Official Map and Guide.
Local Tour Route signs direct you over varied terrain following local low speed, rural, and even dirt roads. They follow a number of historic trail sites or segments in a small geographic area. In 1598, the original caravan of colonists stopped to rest at a Piro Pueblo. The Indians gave the weary travelers corn. Grateful Spaniards named the site Socorro, which means relief and which still exists today.
Bosquicito Road wagon cut
Bosquicito Road wagon cut, near Socorro, New Mexico


Crossing sign
Crossing signs alert you to locations where the historic trail crossed an existing road. But what crossed the road? Juan de Oñate brought thousands of domestic animals across New Mexico on the first Spanish colonization expedition. Hoof prints combined with carreta wheels define the route.
Original Route sign
Original Route signs are exclusive. These signs tell you that you are on roads and trails well documented as being the original route. On the Jornada del Muerto, you can walk a mile in the original foot steps of Spanish explorers.
boy scouts hike the jornada del muerto
Boy Scout Troop 85 hike along the Jornada del Muerto original route March 19, 2011


San Isidro Catholic Church
Along the original route you will find San Isidro Catholic Church—a 19-century adobe church dedicated to San Isidro, patron saint of farmers and protector of crops—in the historic village of Agua Fria in Santa Fe, New Mexcio.


Historic Site Name sign
Historic Site Name signs steer you to historic trail sites or segments. Walk the streets of the Doña Ana Village Historic District, just north of Las Cruces, New Mexico. You'll see Historic Site Name signs for the Barncastle House and the Antonio Store. Step back in time.
Chuch and courtyard in Dona Ana Historic Village
Doña Ana Village Historic District


When you see a Site Identification sign, you know you have arrived at the entrance to a historic site, segment, or interpretive facility.
site ID sign

Last updated: June 26, 2015

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Mailing Address:

National Trails Intermountain Region
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
PO Box 728

Santa Fe, NM 87504


(505) 988-6098

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