Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

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Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
Map of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro
Location Mexico and the United States
Governing body

Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (Mexico)

National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (United States)
Website El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Criteria Cultural: (ii), (iv) Edit this on Wikidata
Reference 1351
Inscription 2010 (34th Session)

The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro (Spanish for "Royal Road of the Interior Land") was a 2560 kilometer (1,600 mile) long trade route between Mexico City and San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico, from 1598 to 1882.[1]

In 2010, 55 sites and 5 existing World Heritage Sites along the Mexican section of the route became an entry on the Unesco World Heritage List.[2] Those sites include historic cities, towns, bridges, haciendas and other monuments along the 1,400km route between the Historic Center of Mexico City (independent World Heritage Site) and the town of Valle de Allende, Chihuahua.

The 404 mile (646 kilometer) section of the route within the United States was proclaimed as a part of the National Historic Trail system on October 13, 2000. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail is overseen by both the National Park Service and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management with aid from El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Assoc. also known as CARTA. A portion of the trail near San Acacia, New Mexico was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014.[3]


Plaque commemorating inscrpition of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro into the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The trail was used for trade among native tribes since the earliest of times. In 1598, Oñate followed the trail while leading a group of settlers North during the era of Spanish conquest. The duration of the trip from the Rio Grande to the San Juan Pueblo was said to take, by wagon and by foot, approximately 6 months including 2–3 weeks of rest throughout the trip.[4] According to journals kept by settlers they used common animals found along the trail to add to the food they brought along. The trail greatly improved trade among Spanish villages and helped the Spanish conquistadors spread Christianity throughout the conquered lands. The trail was used from 1598 through 1881 when the railroad replaced the need for wagons. Eventually, railroads replaced rutted trails and over time the trail and evidence of it faded from sight and memory. The changes that the railways brought made trade along El Camino much easier and in some cases made travel quite luxurious and exciting.

List of World Heritage locations[edit]

Interior of the Church of San Francisco Javier, part of the Former Jesuit College of San Francisco Javier that now hosts the Museo Nacional del Virreinato.
La Colmena bridge in Tepeji del Río, one of several bridges included in the entry
Presidio in Ojuelos de Jalisco
Hacienda de San Blas in Pabellón de Hidalgo, which now hosts a museum on Mexican Independence.
Sanctuarary of Plateros, famous for its image of the Holy Infant of Atocha.
Ruins of the former mining town of Ojuela

The Camino Real de Tierra Adentro world heritage entry includes the following:[5]

United States Historic Trail[edit]

From the Texas-New Mexico border to San Juan Pueblo north of Española, a drivable route, mostly part of former U.S. Route 85, has been designated as a National Scenic Byway called El Camino Real.

Portions of the trade route corridor also contain pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian trails. These include the existing Paseo del Bosque Trail in Albuquerque and portions of the proposed Rio Grande Trail. Its northern terminus, Santa Fe, is a terminus also of the Old Spanish Trail and the Santa Fe Trail.

Along the trail, parajes (stop overs) that have been preserved today include El Rancho de las Golondrinas.

Fort Craig and Fort Selden are also located along the trail.


El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Trail Association (CARTA) is a non-profit trail organization that aims to help promote, educate, and preserve the cultural and historic trail in collaboration with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and various Mexican organizations. CARTA publishes an informative journal, Chronicles of the Trail, quarterly that provides people with further history and current affairs of the trail and what CARTA, as an organization, is doing to help the trail.

Chihuahua Trail[edit]

The Chihuahua Trail describes this route as it passed from New Mexico through the state of Chihuahua to central Mexico.

In the late 16th century Spanish exploration and colonization had advanced from Mexico City northward by the great central plateau to its ultimate goal in Santa Fe. Until Mexican independence (1821) all communications of New Mexico with the outer world was restricted to this 1,500-mile (2,400 km) trail. Over it came ox carts and mule trains, missionaries and governors, soldiers and colonists. When the Santa Fe Trail sprang up, traders from the United States extended their operations southward over the Chihuahua Trail and beyond to Durango and Zacatecas. Superseded by railroads, the ancient Mexico City-Santa Fe road was revived as a great automobile highway of Mexico. The part in New Mexico, State Highway 85, pioneered by Franciscan missionaries in 1581, may be the oldest highway in the United States.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Snyder, Rachel Louise. "Camino Real" American Heritage, April/May 2004.
  2. ^ "Camino Real de Tierra Adentro – World Heritage List". UNESCO. Retrieved 2010-08-05. 
  3. ^ "Weekly list of actions 11/03/14 through 11/07/14". National Park Service. Retrieved 2014-11-23. 
  4. ^ need citation
  5. ^ "Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Map". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Dictionary of American History by James Truslow Adams, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1940
  • Boyle, Susan Calafate. Los Capitalistas: Hispano Merchants and the Santa Fe Trade. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997.
  • Moorhead, Max L. New Mexico’s Royal Road. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958.
  • Palmer, Gabrielle G., et al.. El Camino Real de Tierra Dentro. Santa Fe: Bureau of Land Management, 1993.
  • Palmer, Gabrielle G. and Stephen L. Fosberg. El Camino Real de Tierra Dentro. Santa Fe: Bureau of Land Management, 1999.
  • Preston, Douglas and José Antonio Esquibel. The Royal Road. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°36′29″N 102°22′45″W / 22.60806°N 102.37917°W / 22.60806; -102.37917