Bent's Old Fort
National Historic Site
The Great Plains – the words alone create a sense of space, a feeling of destiny, and a challenge. Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site was an integral part of this destiny, and the geographic backdrop was, and still is, an immense sweep of country, reaching north and south from Canada to Mexico and spreading eastward from the Rocky Mountains.
So often maligned as a drab, featureless area, the Great Plains is actually a land of contrasts and variety: canyons carved into solid rock by the water of the Pecos and Rio Grande, the seemingly endless grain fields of Kansas, the desolation of the Badlands, and the beauty of the Black Hills. The Great Plains physiographic province hosts many interesting, even spectacular, geologic features, many of which are part of the National Park system. Although Bent’s Old Fort is not generally considered a “geologic” National Park system unit, this National Historic Site is indeed an integral part of the geologic heritage of the Great Plains. In the vicinity of Bent’s Old Fort a number of different geologic features and processes can be found including meandering streams, oxbow lakes, braided streams, and Eolian (windblown) deposits.
The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.
View the park's map to create your own personal maps and images right here.For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.
A geology photo album for this park can be found here.For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.
A listing of books about Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site can be found here.
Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout
The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!
Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.
For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.
The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.
A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.
NPS Geology and Soils PartnersAssociation of American State Geologists
Geological Society of America
Natural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
U.S. Geological Survey
We are pleased to inform you about educational tours available for schools throughout the school year at Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site. Guided tours are at 10:30 AM and 1:00 PM. A short demonstration is included in the tour lasting about 1 hour total. Costumed living history interpreters perform tours that relate in part to the Colorado State Teaching Standards for history. The site's history provides fine examples of historical relationships and inquiry, society changes, economic systems and social processes and how they shaped populations.
General information about the park's education and intrepretive programs is available on the park's education webpage.For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.