Sand Creek Massacre Monument and Bluffs

Featured Route
in Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, CO
  • Total Length
    3¾mi
  • Ascent
    120ft
  • Difficulty
    Easy

Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site commemorates the November 29, 1864, attack on a village of about 700 Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho people along Sand Creek. At dawn, approximately 675 soldiers of the 1st and 3rd Regiments, Colorado Volunteer (U.S.) Cavalry, killed more than 230 Cheyenne and Arapaho over the course of seven hours. Most were women, children, or the elderly.  The site’s History & Culture overview provides an in-depth look into the background of this atrocity and surrounding events, including letters written by witnesses immediately afterwards. 

Visitors can learn more about this tragic period through a ranger-led interpretive program, printed material and signage, and a self-guided hike along the path of the massacre. 

This route travels the full trail, though the distance from visitor center to just the Battle Ground and Repatriation Site is only 0.6 miles each way. It’s also possible to park at a secondary lot adjacent to those sites. 

All walking trails at the park are sand-based with a ¼-inch crusher fine walking surface. They are compatible for wheelchair use; however, rain/snow and/or patches of soft sand may impede wheelchair use. Read more about accessibility. Temperatures range from over 100°F in summer to under 20°F in winter. Visitors can expect blowing dust and sand year-round, especially during infrequent storms.

Get Here
  • Hiking
  • Out & Back
  • History
  • Wheelchair Friendly
Photos
Elevation Profile
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Timeline
1
Visitor Center

Any visit should begin with a stop at the Information Center, if open. Daily interpretive programs typically start in April and run through the summer, but check the hours first. Entrance is free. Drinking water is available at the Ranger Station seasonally. 

Start Hiking
For 0.7mi
The first segment leads gently up to Monument Hill, where the main interpretive site and repatriation area are located. There is a restroom along the path at the secondary parking lot.  
2
Memorial

This area includes an overlook above Big Sandy Creek, a shade structure, and the Repatriation Area. While referred to as a battle ground on the monument, it is the site of a horrific massacre that deserves respect and remembrance. If possible, attending an interpretive program can help make the most of your visit. Even if you miss a scheduled program, don’t hesitate to ask about the possibility of an unscheduled talk or walk. Spending time to read interpretive material on-site and website in advance is highly encouraged as well. 

3
Cemetery

Massacre victims are slowly being returned to this resting place, with the first remains being reburied in 2008. 

Continue Hiking
For 1¼mi
A primitive trail continues along the bluff beyond the Monument Hill overlook, overlooking the creek bed and following the course of the massacre as tribal members fled along the creek with soldiers in pursuit. 
Continue Hiking
For 1.8mi
While this National Historic Site has the purpose of preserving history and educating future generations, it also offers pristine natural grasslands to appreciate. Special-status species documented here include the burrowing owl, mountain plover, black-tailed prairie dog, Swainson’s hawk, scaled quail, northern harrier, loggerhead shrike, bleached skimmer dragonfly, red-headed woodpecker, white-faced ibis, and northern leopard frog. Other wildlife include prairie dogs, deer, over 50 bird species, and more. Among numerous grassland plants, its cottonwood trees are notable in that several may be old enough to have witnessed the massacre itself. Read more about the natural environment.