Pikes Stockade is a historic exploration camp in Sanford, CO. It is located on the north bank of the Conejos River and is the site where explorer Zebulon Pike raised the American flag on Spanish soil in 1807. The site, which is now managed by Historic Colorado, includes a wooden stockade reconstruction built following Pike’s detailed description of the original. In 1961, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark.

Pikes Stockade is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northeast of Sanford, at the end of County Road 24, on the Conejos River’s northern bank. The stockade is made of oak, a more durable material than the cottonwood Pike used in 1807. The stockade, like Pike’s, has no normal doorways and is entered through a tunnel that runs beneath one of the walls.

Learn Its Rich History

After six grueling months of travel from St. Louis, Pike and his crew of nine American soldiers and one civilian arrived at the mouth of the Conejos on January 31, 1807. Pike’s journal, which he later published, describes the construction of a “small fortification.” According to a footnote in his entry of February 6, the structure was “36 feet square” and made of “heavy cotton-wood logs, about two feet [in] diameter.”

To deter attackers, the structure rose to a height of twelve feet and featured sharpened outward-pointing pickets. The stockade’s south face abutted the river, and the men dug a moat that encircled it. They crawled through a small hole at the bottom to enter and exit. Pike was satisfied and raised an American flag over the stockade.

Fort Garland Museum & Cultural Center

The site is now owned by History Colorado, and a replica of the stockade stands near the original structure’s location. The site is managed by History Colorado as an adjunct to the Fort Garland Museum. Fort Garland is significant because of its connection to the settlement of the San Luis Valley and southern Colorado. The fort was built in 1858 and served as a military base until it was abandoned in 1883.

There are interpretive plaques, monuments commemorating the expedition, restrooms and picnic facilities, as well as paths through the riparian forest and along the river, in addition to the reconstructed stockade.

Pay Us A Visit

Plan a visit from the fort to see Pikes Stockade, where Zebulon Pike and his men camped in the early 1800s. Visitors can explore the site on their own or take a guided tour. To get to Pike’s Stockade, head northeast on County Road 24 from Sanford for about 8 miles (13 kilometers).

If you are interested in exploring more of Zebulon Pike’s journey, make sure to check their website for more information on self-guided tours and ranger-led programs. Be safe by following our mask guidelines and maintaining social distance.

Wanna visit more historical locations? Make sure to check out McIntire Ranch Historical Site! The McIntire Ranch is a historic archaeological site that includes the visible remains of Albert and Florence McIntire’s ranch headquarters, which was established around 1880. After settling near the Conejos River and the abundance of water provided by the McIntire spring, the McIntires built a mansion.

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