Fort Union National Monument

In New Mexico's early days as a state, the military created remote outposts along the Santa Fe Trail, a crucial commercial corridor in the 1800s. Fort Union National Monument preserves the ruins of one of these isolated forts — located deep in the desert east of Santa Fe, it protected the Mountain and Cimarron branches of the trail. Although soldiers left the fort in 1891, the ruined walls still stand as a testament to the wild and dangerous times of the westward expansion period. A walk around the ruins takes you past three different eras of Fort Union, offering a unique look at the reality of life as a frontier soldier.

Things to Do

Things To Do Near Fort Union National Monument

Bring a water bottle and sunscreen on your visit to Fort Union National Monument; most of the experience happens under the unrelenting high-desert sun. Start in the visitor center, where you'll learn about the strategic importance of the location and watch a video about the fort's history. The most exciting experiences are outside — spend an hour or two exploring the ruins on foot, examining the construction, and looking for the wagon-wheel ruts that still line the ground. Keep the fun going with a visit to the surrounding communities, which offer a selection of historic sites and creature comforts.

Hiking Trails



Nearby Shops and Restaurants

map-marker-alt-regular How to Get There

How To Get To Fort Union National Monument

Fort Union National Monument feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's relatively easy to reach. If you're in an RV, the easiest option is to take I-25 north from Santa Fe or south from Raton and the Colorado border. Just north of Watrous, take 161 north; it dead-ends at the park.


3115 NM Highway 161, Watrous, NM 87753

Fee: Entry fee $0

Fort Union National Monument brings the history of the Wild West to life. Whether you're interested in historical construction, commerce, or military operations, this well-preserved fort makes a memorable stop. RV camping is the perfect way to take in the rugged beauty of New Mexico during your visit to the fort.