Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark is an interesting place to visit while staying at the Inn on Broadway. It is the perfect place to spend an early spring day in southwestern New Mexico. It is located just off US180 between Silver City and Bayard, NM. Fort Bayard has over 468 acres and includes historical buildings, hiking trails and an adjacent National Cemetery. The Fort Bayard Preservation Society gives tours every second and fourth Saturday and more often during the summer months. There is also a self-guided tour available.
In 1866 Fort Bayard was established to protect the miners, settlers and travelers from the Apaches. Soldiers from the fort battled many of the most famous Apache war leaders, including Victorio, Nana, and Geronimo. Fort Bayard was home to hundreds of African American soldiers known as Buffalo Soldiers. Once Geronimo was captured in 1886, Fort Bayard’s usefulness came under scrutiny. However its location in a dry, sunny climate at a high elevation assured its existence as the first sanatorium dedicated to the treatment of Army personnel suffering from tuberculosis.
Since then Fort Bayard has been a veteran’s hospital and a state run long-term healthcare facility. Since a new hospital has opened, the state of New Mexico is advertising for a buyer and once again Fort Bayard’s usefulness is under scrutiny. Many community groups have suggestions for the use of the 420+ acre property but time may be running out for all to enjoy this historical facility and its park-like setting.
A must do hike is the the Big Alligator Juniper Tree. The five-mile trail begins from the Fort Bayard property. The juniper is ranked as the second largest Alligator Juniper Tree in the nation. The parking area at the trailhead has been recently improved.
On a more somber note, one can visit the National Cemetery located adjacent to Fort Bayard. This is one of two National Cemeteries in New Mexico.