Celebrating Outdoor Recreation and History on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail

A true partnership effort! The Old Spanish Trail Association (OSTA), Mesa County, the Bureau of Land Management, Western Colorado Interpretive Association, and the National Park Service's National Trails Intermountain Region (NTIR) teamed up in 2016, to hold a “Back to the Trail” health and wellness event along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail (NHT). The event was the first of its kind along the trail and captured the interest of many Grand Junction, Colorado, residents who were unfamiliar with the trail and its history. It was also celebrated as a National Park Service Centennial event for the Old Spanish NHT.

Activities included a guided history hike, yoga, mountain biking, and horseback riding along the historic trail. Sarah Shrader, owner of Bonsai Design, one of the world’s leading companies in outdoor recreation in parks, was also a guest speaker.

The event was a great success with participation from many local community members, including the mountain biking group Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) and the Colorado Backcountry Horsemen. Attendees of all ages came and connected to the trail through recreation and healthy outdoor activities.

 Above: Some of the event’s participants and the activities they engaged in along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in Grand Junction, Colorado

Above: Some of the event’s participants and the activities they engaged in along the Old Spanish
National Historic Trail in Grand Junction, Colorado

Open to the public for more than 20 years, this segment of national historic retracement trail is approximately seven miles long and is located about three miles southeast of the City of Grand Junction, Colorado. The trail terrain is moderate enough for beginners and gives spectacular views of the Gunnison River and desert landscapes, which made it the perfect setting for this event. Funded through a National Park Foundation (NPF) Active Trails Grant, the project raised awareness of the Old Spanish NHT through the enhancement of recreational and educational opportunities along this section of the trail.

The event was repeated in 2017, and the project has become a model for other recreational development along the OSNHT. All involved look forward to continuing to strengthen the connection between participants and the Old Spanish NHT in the coming years.