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El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail

The El Camino Real de los Tejas trail was originally a “royal road” that made its way down to Mexico City, Mexico. This road helped Spanish settlers explore the area, improve trails and roads, and connect the settlements of New Spain. Spain was attempting to control North America before France or England could.

The 2,500-mile road was the only overland route for the settlers and soldiers to make their way from Mexico into Louisiana and passing through Texas. The road was first built upon Indian trails and connected Mexico City to Los Adaes, which was the capital of the Texas province, now located in what is northwestern Louisiana.

Traveling the trail is like traveling through more than 350 years of history, as you can learn about the settlers and missionaries, historic sites, and communities that were developed along the trail. The trail was also used to determine boundaries between the United States and Mexico and the immigrants that used the trail to get into Texas helped revolt against Mexico and helped Texas gain its independence and eventually its statehood.

Today’s highways Texas 21 and Texas OSR roughly follow the original route of the trail used in the 17th century. In 2004, the National Park Service incorporated the trail into the National Historic Trail system. The historic designation applies to the stretch of the trail that connects Texas and Louisiana.

Some of the current sites on the trail are privately owned and require permission to visit. For public sites, visit the National Park Service’s page on the El Camino Real de los Tejas.

The trail is also home to some special events, such as Milam County’s fall and spring El Camino Real Trade Days. For a fun shopping experience on a historic route, check out the next event in March 2016 at the Apache Pass. This event is held rain or shine and has free admission and parking. 

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