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Fort Union National Monument – New Mexico

Fort Union National Monument


Fort Union was established in 1851 as a guardian and protector of the Santa Fe Trail. During it’s forty-year history, three different forts were constructed close together. The third and final Fort Union was the largest in the American Southwest, and functioned as a military garrison, territorial arsenal, and military supply depot for the southwest.

The site preserves the second of three forts constructed on the site beginning in 1851, as well as the ruins of the third. Also visible is a network of ruts from the Mountain and Cimarron Branches of the old Santa Fe Trail.

Take the self-guided walking tour complete with push-button narrations at each stop to learn about life at this frontier outpost during the early days of American settlement of the West. As a key stopover point for travelers along the Old Santa Fe Trail, Fort Union was witness to countless expeditions, Indian raids, and commercial gatherings during its short but storied existence.

Entrance Fees – Individuals 16 years of age and older $3.00 for 7  Days.
Details – entrance fee also valid for 7 day use at Pecos National Historical Park

Best Time to Visit:

Anytime would be good to visit.Open daily except  Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.Winter Hours: Labor Day to Memorial Day 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Summer Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Where it is:

Fort Union National Monument is located north of Watrous, Mora County, New Mexico, USA.


From Albuquerque (156 miles), Santa Fe (94 miles) or Las Vegas, NM (28 miles) take I-25 north, exit 366 at Watrous, 8 miles on NM 161.From Denver (313 miles), Colorado Springs (243 miles) or Raton (95 miles) take I-25 south, exit 366 at Watrous, 8 miles on NM 161.


Click here for a  map of Fort Union


National Park Service Web Site


Fort Union National Monument
P.O. Box 127
Watrous, NM
Phone: (505) 425-8025

Tips for the Photographer


Any camera or equipment will work well to photograph the fort.  The trails and open setting allow shooting from about any distance.

What to Photograph:

The ruins of the old fort buildings, but also the open meadow in which the fort is located.  Something that is quite rare to find these days is a historic subject that is not surrounded by modern buildings, power lines and other distractions.  At Fort Union you can shoot almost any direction and have nothing but nature in the background of your photo.

Photography Tips:

Shooting a location like this is going to depend upon the weather, more important is the sky.  If you have a lot in interesting clouds in the sky including a lot of sky will improve your photos.  If however you have only a clear blue or worse gray sky you will want to keep it to a minimum in your photos.For a better composition, try not to have the horizon across the middle of your photo.  Keep the horizon low in the photo if you have great sky, for at the top of the photo if you have poor sky, showing more of the grassland around the fort.

Fort Union Photo Gallery

Click Here for full page gallery

More Photographic Destinations in New Mexico:

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Greg Disch
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Fort Smith, Arkansas 72904

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