Pecos National Historical Park’s Civil War Battlefield Trail will reopen to the public on Saturday, June 25th. Ranger-guided tours of the battlefield will resume on Friday, July 1st. The visitor center (including film, museum exhibits and bookstore) is open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Park grounds are open 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
During our time of social distancing, there are a few places that you can get away from the house, get some exercise, breath some fresh air and still stay a healthy distance from folks. The Pecos National Historical Park has the 2.3 mile Civil War Trail the takes you up and down hills through the trees and tells a story of the historic battlefield of Glorieta Pass.
The trail is located behind a locked gate, but you can get the gate code at the Visitor Center at the main park. Be sure to lock the gate after you go in and when you leave. This code changes regularly, so when the park Visitor Center opens again, you’ll need to call for a new one. It’s a little tricky to find.
Here are driving directions:
Take Interstate 25 Exit 299 and Hwy 50 toward Pecos.
Turn right at La Joya Road. Watch the speed bumps there are several!
Turn right at Old Denver Hwy and drive to the end of the road to the locked gate.
Since the Visitor Center is closed for the moment, the gate code is 9506.
There have been many discussions between Park Superintendent Karl Cordova and Friends President, Bill Zunkel about how to improve the Battlefield monument site on NM 50. It started with the contributions of the Friends Group to seek funding to erect a stone and bronze monument honoring the brave volunteers of New Mexico who fought in the Battle of Glorieta Pass. Then discussions of ways to improve the aesthetics of the site, since it was previously surrounded by unmanaged dirt. Bill Zunkel suggested that enhancing this site with youth would be a win-win activity. Karl suggested that it would make an excellent Eagle Scout project for our local Boy Scout troop. Karl was able to talk Eagle Scout candidate Ryan Cordova to take on this project. It should be mentioned that he did a biographical report on Manuel Chaves and his role in the Battle while in the 5th grade, Ryan is now going into the 10th grade. The original plan was to have Ryan and his fellow scouts complete this project in June or July, 2019.
In April, 2019, Pecos NHP was contacted by the National Park Trust asking us to consider hosting a “Kids in the Park” Day along with their Junior Ranger Ambassador, Brian Wilson on May 18. The National Park Trust is a national 501(c)(3) charitable organization who supports the National Park Service mission in many different ways. One of their new programs is the Junior Ranger Ambassador program, where they select youth from across the country to advocate for kids becoming more involved with parks. Brian was selected due to his visits to over 160 NPS units and level of media attention that follows him and his blog site. Brian elected to choose Pecos NHP as his first Ambassador program. There are several requirements from the National Park Trust, and one of them includes Brian participating in a conservation project. At the time that we were asked to participate in Brian’s program, we only had one conservation project that was applicable to kids and this was the Civil War Monument site enhancement project. We had to quickly complete the required compliance and planning and develop a youth oriented conservation day, with Ryan’s help. Park staff assisted the project with procuring and installing a low rock wall and providing some supplies and material. Ryan organized and supervised the labor staff using scouts, leaders and Brian. Ryan developed a site plan, list of materials and a labor plan to accomplish the project by 1 PM that day. The goal was met with the hard work and dedication of youth and leaders.
Another requirement of the Junior Ranger Ambassador Day, is that the park and Brian must host fun and educational activities for local and visiting youth. With the cooperation of Brian and his family, the park suggested hosting a raptor education program to be conducted by the New Mexico Wildlife Center, and the New Mexico State Museum staff cooperated by providing a primitive hunting workshop, and traditional jewelry making demonstrations at the park visitor center. These were all accomplished with great success and with very little time for planning and coordinating. Additionally, a television program “Travels with Darley” requested to capture the conservation project along with an interpretive/on camera ranger presentation to be an upcoming episode on her program. The “Travels with Darley” program airs on PBS and Amazon Prime.
Did you know that the Union and Confederate armies fought a Civil War battle on what is now the grounds of Pecos National Historical Park? The 1862 Battle of Glorieta Pass helped to decide much of the fate of the American West in the Civil War. Confederates sought to control large portions of the American West and its gold fields so as to fund the Southern war effort. Union forces successfully defended the territory and its denizens from the Texan army. Over the course of the three-day battle, Americans on both sides fought and died for the nation’s future as the Confederate war effort in New Mexico failed.
Historians debate the true number of dead and wounded from the Battle of Glorieta Pass; contradictory numbers, the number of wounded who later died, desertion, and poor record-keeping all contribute to questions of exactly how many soldiers died from the battle. Therefore, the physical cost of the battles of New Mexico remains shrouded by the mysteries of the past.
This Veterans Day, November 11th, Pecos National Historical Park will memorialize those who lost their lives in the Battle of Glorieta Pass with small flags. The 175 flags will be placed near the historic Pigeon’s Ranch building in the Glorieta Unit of Pecos National Historical Park along State Highway 50 outside of Pecos. Each flag represents one of the 175 soldiers who died either at the battle or later from their wounds. As you drive by the area, please remember those who have given their lives in service to their country.