Black Jack Ruts

A stone path winds through a vast prairie.
Black Jack Ruts, Kansas.

Photo/Roger Boyd

Quick Facts
Accessed at the roadside park located at 2011 N. 200 Rd. Trailhead to the ruts is located next to Black Jack Cabin within the roadside park.
These pronounced ruts bear witness to the passage of thousands of Santa Fe Trail travelers. They also were of strategic value during the Battle of Black Jack (June 2, 1856), because participants hid from enemy fire by hiding in the ruts.
Certified site
The Black Jack Ruts are owned by Douglas  County Government and are managed  jointly between Douglas Co. Public Works  and Douglas Co. Chapter of Santa Fe Trail  Association

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits

A map of Passport and Places to Go locations for National Historic Trails.

As you follow the path at Black Jack Ruts, you will discover the physical marks left on the land by thousands of heavy trade wagons. Parallel swales left by wagon caravans are as wide as 15 feet. You also have the rare opportunity to experience a native tallgrass prairie where the grasses can grow as high as seven feet. While you explore, you will see and feel the beauty of the prairie and understand more about the challenges of traveling it safely. Exhibits and an audio tour will help you read the landscape of the Santa Fe Trail. 

Site Information

Location (accessed at the roadside park located at 2011 N. 200 Rd. Trailhead to the ruts is located next to Black Jack Cabin within the roadside park; N 38.76735, W 095.128843)

This roadside park also includes a large historical marker describing the Battle of Black Jack which occurred ½ mile to the south. The town of Black Jack was located ½ mile to the east.

Black Jack Ruts Audio Walking Tour

More Site Information

Exhibit Audio Description available

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

Santa Fe National Historic Trail

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1 minute, 3 seconds

Walk through five distinct swales created by thousands of heavily loaded freight wagons as they traveled the Santa Fe Trail. A quarter mile, gravel trail loops through and along the swales that are up to 15 feet wide, and 4 and a half feet deep. Exhibits tell the site’s history and significance as you explore. Most of this tallgrass prairie remains unplowed, offering visitors a chance to see the landscape as trail travelers would have over a hundred years ago.

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Last updated: September 20, 2022