Frequently Asked Questions


1. Where is the Pony Express National Historic Trail?

The Pony Express National Historic Trail passes through the following eight states: Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and California. The trail's eastern end is in St. Joseph, Missouri and its western end is in San Francisco, California. Riders only went as far as Sacramento, California, where mail was transported via steamer ship to San Francisco. Pony Express riders carried the mail in both directions. The official trail is about 2,000 miles long and travels through some of the wildest and most desolate landscapes in the country.

2. Where can I obtain a map and brochure for the Trail?

Trail brochures may be obtained from a number of locations. Many museums and visitor centers along the trail distribute our free brochures. Places to Go provides a sample of some of these sites along the trail that may carry our publications. Check out Trail Brochures to download brochures directly or contact us to request one.

3. How do I visit the Trail?

The Pony Express National Historic Trail is not a clearly marked nor continuous hiking trail. Instead it is a corridor that passes through different states and land ownership. Visitors can follow segments of the original trail on public lands and approximate other sections by following the trail's Auto Tour Routes. However, many parts of the original trail are privately owned, have been lost to development, are under plow, or cross military or American Indian tribal reserves. Unless clearly marked, there is no public trail access across private property and reserves. Before entering those lands, you must locate the owners and ask their permission. To view an interactive map of the official trail visit Places to Go.

4. Where can I get my Passport stamped?

Visit Passport Stamps for locations along the Pony Express Trail.

5. 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 map and guide brochure for your classroom. Contact us with your contact information, mailing address, and the quantity of brochures you need for your class.

6. Who was the first Pony Express rider?

The first rider to leave the stables was probably James Randall, who carried the eastbound mail pouch from the San Francisco Pony Express terminal to the wharf. From there the mail went by ferry to Sacramento and continued overland by horse. Johnny Fry is usually named as the first westbound rider out of St. Joseph, Missouri, but some believe Billy Richardson should get the credit.

7. How many Pony Express riders died on the job?

There is historical documentation that four Pony riders were killed by Indians;one was hanged for murder after he got drunk and killed a man;one died in an unrelated accident;and two froze to death.

8. What year was the Trail established?

Congress established the Pony Express National Historic Trail in 1992. In April 1860 the first riders headed east from California with the mail. The last Pony Express rider completed his run in November 1861 after just 19 months. The completion of the transcontinental telegraph in October 1861 made the Pony Express obsolete. Even in the nineteenth century technology evolved quickly.

9. What is a National Historic Trail?

Much like a national park, a national historic trail is created by an act of Congress. National historic trails are congressionally designated official routes that reflect the research, review, and recommendation of many trail experts. National historic trails commemorate historic trade, migration, and other routes important to American culture.

10. Who owns the Trail?

The Pony Express National Historic Trail is administered by the National Park Service (National Trails office), but the actual route on the ground is owned or managed by public, private, nonprofit, state, county, and local landowners. National Trails staff works with these landowners to identify the historic trail resources, provide site planning and design, map the trail, and develop educational opportunities. The National Trails office Region does not own any land on the trail.

11. How can I learn more about the Trail and take part in trail-related activities?

The nonprofit organization that helps research, tour, mark, interpret, and protect the Pony Express NHT is the National Pony Express Association.

Last updated: February 27, 2020

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

National Trails Regions 6|7|8
Pony Express National Historic Trail
1100 Old Santa Fe Trail

Santa Fe, NM 87505

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