New brochure promotes Old Spanish Trail in San Luis Valley

Brief by Central Staff

Trails – March 2008 – Colorado Central Magazine

A new brochure about the Old Spanish Trail in the San Luis Valley came out late last year, and should be available now at area tourist information centers.

The Old Spanish Trail is more like a network of routes than a single path. In the 18th century, the American Souuthwest was a remote part of Spain’s New World empire. The region’s two major outposts, Santa Fé and Los Angeles, were isolated from each other, which made them more vulnerable.

So Spanish authorities chartered expeditions to find a route between the two — one such foray was the 1776 Dominguez- Escalante Expeditiion.

North of Santa Fé. the trail forked. One branch headed northwest to cut across the southwest corner of Colorado, and the other, the North Branch, went north in the San Luis Valley, then west over Cochetopa Pass. They converged at Green River, Utah, to go southwest to Los Angeles.

In the San Luis Valley, the trail had two forks, East and West, named for the sides of the Valley they took. The new brochure’s map features the West Fork, which followed the approximate route of modern U.S. 285, and offers historical sites along the route, with more details on the back.

It’s a product of the La Vereda del Norte chapter of the Old Spanish Trail Association (, and the Temple Buell Foundation of Denver helped pay for the project.