Old West waypoints and trails

Discussion in 'GPS Tracks - Rockies' started by EagleFeather, Feb 2, 2006.

  1. EagleFeather

    EagleFeather Flyin' High

    Jan 26, 2006
    Lafayette, CO
    I am looking for some Garmin compatible waypoints, maps, track logs, routes - anything on the old west trails through Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona.

    Any of the old stage routes, migration routes, etc. especially if there are historic sites along the way.

  2. Echo1

    Echo1 Been here awhile

    Jan 7, 2006
    The USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a great tool to search for places, trails, etc. GNIS also provides one-click links to Google mapping, Terraserver, tiger & others so you can view your search results on maps or satellite/aerial images. In addition to name searches you can search for features such as cemeteries, mines, trails, historic military places etc. I love the USGS & GNIS. Here is an example of the number of hits I got for a few quick searches:

    Emigrant ( Mormon) Trail = 33
    Santa Fe Trail = 27
    Overland Stage = 10
    Pony Express = 79
    California Trail = 19

    You can save search results in .csv file format or you can just select & cut/paste. I use DeLORME Topo USA and it's easy to format & import the GNIS data so I can download to my older Garmin eTrex GPS.

    Here's a link to GNIS:

  3. mountain_range_rider

    mountain_range_rider Adventurer

    Dec 19, 2005
    Rocky Mountains
    Some members of historic trail associations have starting taking GPS readings on exact trail locations that they have documented, but that are not precisely located on existing maps. I haven't seen that data published anywhere yet. I suggest you contact the historic trail associations via their websites and see if they will share that information with you. The information is there, but I'm not sure they'll release it before there's provisions for protecting the historic sites from potential abuse.

    Unfortunately, some of the best preserved sections or historic trail are on private ranches that are posted. Perhaps that good, because lots of ATV and motorcycle use of the historic trails would accelerate erosion on the unmanaged sections of historic trail. A couple of years ago I put lots of effort in locating some precise locations of Santa Fe Trail ruts only to discover that the wagon ruts had become deep gullies that are still actively eroding.

    In the meantime check out the City of Rocks National Monument in Southern Idaho. It's a great place to camp and a fork of the historic California Trail passes through the National Monument. It's not far from there to where the Oregon Trail crossed Southern Idaho. Historical markers are pretty abundant along the routes where the trails intersect major highways.

    The National Park Service has a historic trails programs and will give you maps of all the major historic trail routes. The Park Service maps are great at getting you close, but generally not adequate if you want to see actual wagon ruts.

    Sometimes we get lucky. When I was riding across Nebraska last summer I accidentally stumbled into a place where my GG grandfather camped on his was west in 1847. It wasn't on the map. There are rewards for getting the best available information then just going out and looking.

    Good luck finding somebody willing to share GPS waypoints.
  4. SaShot

    SaShot n00b

    Feb 15, 2006
    Just so happens that I have been assembling some of this information. The attached GPX file is a work in progress. I am providing it in hopes that it will be used to verify the routes in the field and that others will post some trip reports. NOTE: None of the tracks have been verified in the field. In some cases they are accessible, following two-track routes, county roads, and forest roads. However, many sections of the different routes are on private land and permission from the landowners must be obtained in order to access them and the private landowner may not allow access to the public by either foot traffic or motorized vehicle.
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    The basic routes covered include the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:place>Oregon Trail</st1:place> including cut-off routes, California Trail, and Overland Trail Stage Route. The location of these routes has been estimated from paper maps published by the following sources:
    Maps of the <st1:place>Oregon Trail</st1:place> by Gregory Franzwa
    Traveling the <st1:place>Oregon Trail</st1:place> by Julie Fanselow
    <st1:place><st1:State>Wyoming</st1:State></st1:place> Historic Trail Maps
    Overland Stage Route in <st1:place><st1:State>Wyoming</st1:State></st1:place>
    Most of the reaches have also been located from USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle mapping where the historic trail or monument marker was specifically called out on the quad sheets. Geonames have been taken from the files provided by ExpertGPS. Programs such as ExpertGPS and MapSource will give you some indication whether the route is accessible by a two-track trail, county road, forest road or highway.
    The following resources can be checked out for those interested in trail history and more information on the historic routes:
    I hope that these are helpful for an adventure or two!
  5. raydar

    raydar Been here awhile

    Jun 8, 2006
    Central Wyoming
    Hey Eagle,

    I have been involved in geocaching for about three years now. I have a geocache located on www.geocaching.com named "Glenrock Journey" that references 3 seperate Oregon Trail waypoints. One point is the location of Martin Ringo's grave (speculated as the father of Johnny Ringo). Another location is the "Rock in the Glen" a place somewhat similar to "Independence Rock" but much less famous! There is also another waypoint that is a gravesite along the Oregon Trail that is included in the geocache. We recently just visited a geocache near Casper that is named "Reshaw Bridge", this is a briidge that was used to cross the North Platte river before getting to Fort Caspar (note the different spelling, this was Caspar Collins true name). We have been to there is also another cahce at Independence Rock in the past couple of years. We have also visited geocaches at Guernsey WY where the trail ruts are 3- 4' deep in the sandstone.
    I can send you actual coordinates or if you visit the geocaching website you can find them yourself, its free and we have really enjoyed geocaching. I am new to adventure riding (as it is on this website) but I fell that geocaching and adventure riding will dovetail very nicely together. let me know if you need more information
  6. Countdown

    Countdown Long timer

    Oct 20, 2003
    Carson City/Ridgecrest
    I put what I think is the Pony Express on GPSXchange.com
  7. Pointman0853

    Pointman0853 Unregistered Gun Owner

    Apr 14, 2005
    Douglas County, Nevada
    I'm finishing an off-road route from Ca up through Ontario, Idaho. I need 85 miles of graded dirt roads from Ontario heading towards Rigby to complete this task. Can anyone here provide local info or ideas?

  8. historyrider

    historyrider n00b

    Nov 26, 2012
    Way back in '06 the .gpx file in this thread, "Oregon and Historic Old West Trails 2." was posted. Was wondering if others had gone further and contribute to the file since then. A ride along the Mormon Trail in 2011 lit a fire under me to do the same and crowd-sourcing spot checks to this work seems like a great way to go.