Historic Trail from Santa Fe to Española Valley will retrace 1598 Migration

Culminating several years of planning, the El Camino Real Trail Buckman Retracement Project will give residents and tourists alike the opportunity to experience one of the oldest routes of any National Historic Trail in the country.

Connecting city and county land uses with improved access to nearby federal recreational sites, the nearly 15-mile Retracement Project will connect the City of Santa Fe with Diablo Canyon across portions of the Santa Fe National Forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land.

Retracing Don Juan de Oñate’s route to his first capital destination of Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, the Buckman Road segment of the El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail will undergo improvements to enhance public safety and add interpretive signage explaining its historical significance.

The Federal Highway Administration proposed development of the Retracement Project in coordination with Santa Fe County, the Forest Service, BLM and National Park Service.  Environmental analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) concluded that the project will have no significant environmental impact, and the decision to proceed was signed on July 20.

Today, the Caja del Rio Road is the primary access to federal lands on the plateau west of Santa Fe.  Heavy truck traffic poses safety concerns for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians.  The Diablo Canyon Trailhead and Caja del Rio Headquarters Well Trailhead are both accessed from county roads with significant commercial traffic and no shoulder. 

The Retracement Project will provide safer access to federal lands while retracing a portion of the congressionally designated route of the Camino Real along County Road 77, known locally as Buckman Road.

Complementing federal goals, Santa Fe County’s Open Space and Trails Program focuses on greater connectivity among the region’s abundant federal lands.  An expanded and well-maintained trail network will enhance the community’s quality of life and attract tourists in search of outdoor recreational opportunities.

Scheduled for construction during 2017, a dedicated corridor for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians will follow County Road 62 and Caja del Rio Road.  The shared-use path will provide a safe, sustainable non-motorized travel route from Santa Fe to favorite hiking, biking and climbing locations on adjoining federal lands.  Interpretive signage will enhance visitors’ awareness and appreciation of the trail’s historical significance and help sustain preservation.

During the planning phase of the project, 19 tribal governments, multiple community groups, and state and local governments expressed support. 

For further information, please contact the Española Ranger District at 505.753.7331