NPS - National Park Service

07/20/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/20/2021 18:28

Solar cars to travel 900+ miles along the Santa Fe National Historic Trail in the 2021 American Solar Challenge from Independence, MO to Las Vegas, NM

July 20, 2021
Contact: Alicia Lafever, 719-383-5010
Contact:Gail Lueck, Event Director
Contact:Jessica Ostfeld, SCA NPS Intern

LA JUNTA, CO - On August 4-5, 2021, solar cars participating in the 2021 American Solar Challenge on the Santa Fe National Historic Trail will be coming to Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site! If there are sunny skies, faster solar cars may arrive between 3:45-6:00pm on Wednesday, August 4. Most teams are expected to arrive on Thursday, August 5 between 9:00am-3:15pm, depending on traffic, weather, and energy management decisions made by each of the teams. The event is free and open to the public.

From August 3-7, 2021, the American Solar Challenge, in partnership with the National Park Service, will feature collegiate solar car teams in a road rally style event along portions of the Santa Fe National Historic Trail to commemorate the Santa Fe Trail's 200th anniversary. Participants and their solar powered vehicles will make the journey from Missouri to New Mexico, following in the footsteps of traders who used the Trail between 1821 and 1880 and following routes that cross the cultural landscapes and homelands of many Indigenous peoples.

Traveling more than 900 miles, the solar cars will visit several towns and sites along the Santa Fe Trail, including: Independence, MO; Council Grove, KS; McPherson, KS; Dodge City, KS; Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site in La Junta, CO; Las Vegas, NM; and Santa Fe, NM. Stops along the route will give visitors the unique opportunity to see the solar cars and explore the history and landscape of the Santa Fe Trail. National Park Service rangers will be present each day to provide information and fun activities related to the Trail.

Every two years, the Innovators Educational Foundation (IEF) organizes the American Solar Challenge, a collegiate student design competition to design, build, and drive solar-powered vehicles in a cross-country time/distance event. In 2021, teams will have the opportunity to drive additional loops in certain locations along the route to increase their distance, further showcasing the capabilities of their energy-efficient vehicles.

Please visit the ASC 2021 competition page for more information and a current list of registered teams. Teams are split into two classes: the tradition single-occupant vehicles with space only for the driver and the newer multi-occupant vehicles, which are scored on their practicality features in addition to their performance on the road. The week prior to the American Solar Challenge, all solar cars will go through a scrutineering and qualifying process, resulting in a final team list for the event.

Innovators Educational Foundation would like to thank all the 2021 sponsors and location hosts for their contributions to the event. Their support and the dedication of the university teams and volunteer staff makes this multi-disciplined, experiential learning event possible.


Innovators Educational Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit that organizes solar car events in the United States, including the American Solar Challenge (road event) and the Formula Sun Grand Prix (track event), to provide hands-on, multi-disciplined learning opportunities for college students. To learn more, visit us at American Solar Challenge website, Facebook page, or Twitter account.

President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Trails System Act on October 2, 1968. The purpose of the Act was to provide public outdoor recreation areas, promote resource preservation and foster an appreciation of America's history and cultural diversity. Today the National Trails System includes 11 National Scenic Trails, 19 National Historic Trails, and over a thousand National Recreation Trails.

For information about the Santa Fe National Historic Trail visit and follow the event on Facebook @SantaFeTrailNPS, Instagram @nationaltrailsnps, or on YouTube @NationalTrailsNPS . For information about Trail sites along the ASC route, visit

Please see details about the Santa Fe Trail Association and its chapters. Visit or or for information about the National Park Service.