Freight wagons no longer cross the prairies, but the trail's legacy endures as buildings, historic sites, landmarks, and original wagon-wheel ruts. The National Park Service (NPS) works in close partnership with the Santa Fe Trail Association, American Indian tribes, state, county, and municipal governmental agencies, private landowners, nonprofit heritage conservation groups, and many others. Trail sites are in private, municipal, tribal, federal, or state ownership. Please ask for permission before visiting any trail sites on private lands and check with public sites for visiting hours and regulations.
To promote the preservation and development of national historic trails for public use, enjoyment, education, and inspiration.
Certifying a National Historic Trail Site
National Historic Trails cross thousands of miles of public and private lands. Along those miles are physical traces of trail history, such as wagon ruts, graves, inscriptions, and campsites - places that tell about that history, such as museums and visitor interpretive centers. Many such traces and places are found on state lands, in nature preserves, in city parks, on private ranches, and even in suburban back yards.
National Trails System
National historic trails are part of the National Trails System, which was established by the National Trails System Act of 1968. National historic trails commemorate historic routes and promote their preservation and development for public use. They recognize diverse facets of history such as prominent past routes of exploration, migration, trade, communication, and military action. National historic trails generally consist of remnant sites and trail segments, and thus are not necessarily contiguous. In addition, while they are administered by federal agencies, land ownership of the sites and segments may be in public or private hands.
Last updated: March 6, 2020