Part of Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico

Battle of Glorieta Pass Trail Opens to the Public

Interpretive foot trail offers viewpoints overlooking the Civil War battlefield

Saturday, July 04 2009 15:44   Trails
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Some call it the "Gettysburg of the West" while many others don't even know it exists, but the Battle of Glorieta Pass is one of the few American Civil War battle sites found in the West, and now visitors can enjoy its history from the vantage point of a new public trail.

Part of Pecos National Historical Park (
www.nps.gov/peco/) located about 25 miles outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Battle of Glorieta Pass Trail opened to the public June 13, 2009 and is the first public trail within the Glorieta Pass Civil War Battlefield Unit of the park.

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The trail project was developed due to the very limited public access and interpretation of the battlefield.

Prior to this trail project, the only public access to the battlefield for the public was by participating in scheduled tours guided by Park Rangers and volunteers. Guided tours offered the only means of on-site interpretation and limited information on the battle is provided at the visitor center.

Concerns about visitors possibly being hit by highway traffic were the primary reason for limiting access to guided tours only. But the new trail provides the public with a dedicated pathway away from vehicles.

The trail project involved constructing an interpretive foot trail to allow public access to viewpoints overlooking the battlefield. Stops along the trail contain interpretive signs and trail guide information.

With the completed trail, the public is now able to visit the battlefield through self-guided and self-scheduled tours. Trailhead parking and associated access road improvement allows for safe and easy access to the site and assist in protecting surrounding resources by channeling visitors along one dedicated pathway.


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The Battle of Glorieta Pass was fought March 26-28, 1862, and is called the "Gettysburg of the West" for two reasons. First, like the Gettysburg in the East, the fighting at Glorieta Pass represented the highpoint of the Confederate Army's advance into Union territory. Second, the three-day battle halted the Rebel advance.

The battle outside of Santa Fe also was critical because it stopped Southern efforts to open a second front in the West, with the goal of Confederate forces controlling the Colorado goldfields and even possibly moving into California.

Editor's Note: For more information about the Civil War fighting in the Southwest, see OldWestNewWest.com's Civil War in the West series.

The June 13-14 commemoration events highlighted the ongoing partnerships contributing to the Civil War trail project.

Partners in this project include Friends of Pecos National Historical Park, Glorieta Battlefield Coalition, Civil War Preservation Trust, United Daughters of the Confederacy, New Mexico Confederate Historical Society, Student Conservation Association, Western National Parks Association, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, New Mexico State Parks, NPS Connecting Trails to Parks, Eker Family, Vordermark/Teel Family, Don Alberts, and many other donors and volunteers.


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