Bent’s Old Fort and Oxbow State Wildlife Area
Bent's Old Fort. Photo: D. Feldman
Aliases: Oxbow State Wildlife Area
The reconstructed Bent’s Old Fort along the old Santa Fe Trail is the focus of a National Park where actors in period costume maintain a fascinating piece of ‘living history.’ The park preserves a nice area of riverbottom cottonwood forest along the Arkansas as well as some open grassland and the terrific marsh where Black Rail was first found in the state. There is also an excellent riparian corridor along the river. Adjacent to the fort property to the east, both north and south of the river, is the Oxbow SWA, which contains more acreage of riverbottom habitats. Access to the SWA is from the south side of the river.
Attractions: Historic Bent's Old Fort
Habitat: Marsh, Grassland/Prairie, Lowland Riparian
Directions: From US 50 on the east side of La Junta, head north on CO 109 across the river and turn right to follow CO 194. Bent's Old Fort is on the south side of the road, about six miles from the turnoff. To get to Oxbow State Wildlife Area, take US 50 east from La Junta about seven miles to the turnoff for the SWA on the left (north), just short of the Bent County line.
Delorme: 99 D4
Roads of Colorado: 124 B3
Dates of Access: Open all year
Hours: Summer 8:00 AM - 5:30 PM; winter 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Ownership: National Park Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Admission: National Park Service fee. Beginning May 1, 2021, a valid Hunting license, Fishing license, OR State Wildlife Area Pass is required for everyone 16 or older accessing any State Wildlife Area or State Trust Land.
Restrictions: SWA is primitive, with no facilities. Obey park and CPW rules and regulations
Parking: Paved lot at the fort; gravel lot at the SWA
Lodging: Hotel in Las Animas
Handicapped Access: Easy walking trail
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