Santa Fe Trail Association

Kansas Chapters

By the time Kansas became a state, The Santa Fe Trail had passed through its territory for nearly forty years. Of all the states that the Trail passes through, Kansas contains the greatest total trail mileage. It was in Kansas that travelers had to choose which of the two main routes of the Trail they would take the rest of the way to Santa Fe, the Mountain Route, or the shorter but more hazardous Cimarron Route. Appropriately, the state also hosts the greatest number of Santa Fe Trail Association chapters, as well as the Association’s headquarters in Larned, Kansas.

Western portions of the Trail’s route through Kansas were explored by the Zebulon Pike expedition in 1806, and Pike was the first U.S. citizen to describe the landscape and environment of the area.

While most of the terrain the Santa Fe Trail traversed in Kansas was relatively flat or rolling prairie, passage through it was not without its hardships. As artist Doug Holdread illustrates in the banner art on our Kansas chapter pages, the traders’ heavy wagons frequently had to struggle across muddy, steeply-cut banks of prairie streams like Cottonwood Creek, or brave the quicksands and flash flooding of rivers like the Arkansas. The Kansas prairie environment also bred weather extremes, and epic thunderstorms, dangerous lightning, droughts, and sudden blizzards could conspire to make for a perilous passage—as well as providing magnificent vistas, miles of lush carpets of rippling prairie grass and flowers, and a traveler’s first glimpse of magnificent herds of buffalo.



Our Mission
The mission of the Santa Fe Trail Association is to protect and preserve the Santa Fe Trail and to promote awareness of the historical legacy associated with it.  The Santa Fe Trail Association’s purposes are exclusively charitable and educational within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.