National Historic Trails
National Historic Trails are extended trails that closely follow a historic trail or route of travel of national significance. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for over 5,343 miles of 11 National Historic Trails. For more information on National Scenic and Historic Trails, please visit the NLCS national page.
Why are National Historic Trails designated?
Designation identifies and protects historic routes, historic remnants, and artifacts for public use and enjoyment.
What National Historic Trails run through Utah?
There are portions of three National Historic Trails in Utah that are managed by the BLM; to see where they are, click on the map at the right.
The California National Historic Trail was a mid-19th century highway for human movement to lures of gold and farmland in California. Numerous routes emerged in attempts to create the best available course. These routes fostered commerce and encouraged the development of transportation and communication networks. Native American cultures changed along the way as hundreds of thousands of people and animals used the trail. Designated in 1992, this trail commemorates that which brought the country closer together and today offers auto touring, educational programs and visitor centers to present-day gold seekers and explorers.
The Old Spanish National Historic Trail opened a land route across 19th century Mexico between the Tierra Adentro, the fabled,yet isolated place that would become New Mexico, and California’s missions and burgeoning settlements. When Antonio Armijo left Abiquiu, New Mexico for California in 1829 with 40 men and 200 pack mules, he blazed a trail between the two colonies that had frustrated explorers for over a century. The Abiquiu party’s woolen blankets and tanned hides were welcomed in textile-starved California. In return, the horses and mules Armijo and his followers brought east would become the working stock for miners, American and Mexican military, and farmers from northern Mexico to the east coast of the United States.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail was a cross-country route used by young men on horseback to carry the nation's priority mail from Missouri to California from 1860 to 1861. The horse-and-rider system was the United States' most direct and practical means of east-west communication for a short time before completion of the telegraph, delivering mail in the unprecedented time of only ten days. In many ways, the Pony Express was the overnight priority mail of its day. Now 150 years later, visitors can closely follow the historic route of the Pony Express across Utah's west desert on a maintained BLM National Backcountry Byway, stopping a various station sites and interpretive displays along the way. There is also a public campground located at the Simpson Springs open year-round, and the route also goes through the Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge.