On his expedition in 1806–1807 to determine the southern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase, Zebulon Pike and his men crossed the Sangre de Cristo Range and constructed a crude fort. Pike raised the American flag there, on Spanish territory, and was arrested and taken to Mexico. He was released five months later and escorted back to the United States. During the 1960s the Colorado Historical Society reconstructed Pike's Stockade in a picturesque cottonwood grove on the north bank of the Conejos River. The location and dimensions were determined by studying Pike's journals (although some say the actual site was about half a mile away, on higher ground, near McIntyre Hot Springs).
In the interest of permanence, the reconstruction substituted oak logs on a concrete foundation for the original horizontal cottonwood logs with notched corners. The wall heights vary, with sharpened poles to protect the lower sections. A flagpole stands at the center of the enclosure, and picnic tables furnish the surrounding park. The closest town, Sanford (1881, 7,560 feet), was established by Mormon colonists and named for Silas Sanford Smith.