On March 18, 2022, America quietly gained a new national park.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, the US government designated Amache as a National Historic Landmark in 2006.
What’s the significance of this site in southeast Colorado?
Let’s find out!
About Amache National Historic Site
Amache National Historic Site was initially known as Granada Relocation Center, a detainment camp for Japanese-Americans during World War II. It was the smallest of all relocation centers and the only one in Colorado.
The central camp area consisted of 640 acres, although the government purchased 10,000 acres for use.
Opened in 1942, more than 10,000 people were incarcerated here between 1942 and 1945. At its peak in 1943, over 7,300 Japanese Americans were here, two-thirds of them were American citizens. At the time, Amache became Colorado’s tenth largest city.
Not much remains of the internment camp – structures were torn down, sold, and moved to other locations in Colorado. The APS has restored one barrack, water tower, and guard tower. The cemetery is intact, as are the road system and other building foundations.
Unfortunately, the schools, silkscreen shop, and co-op store are gone. We can no longer see how these detainees survived and thrived during their detainment.
The camp closed in 1945, and relocation began. Some went back to California, and others stayed in the area. These survivors helped shine a light on a dark moment in our country’s history.
Why Was It Designated As a New National Historic Site?
According to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, “As a nation, we must face the wrongs of our past in order to build a more just and equitable future.”
It’s essential to continue to protect this space and speak about the painful chapter of American history. National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said, “It is our solemn responsibility as caretakers of America’s national treasures to tell the whole story of our nation’s heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.”
For years, the Amache Preservation Society (APS) has protected and cared for the Amache National Historic Site. The National Parks will continue to work with APS to preserve the site.
Grenada High School principal John Hopper runs APS. Local high school students assist in caring for the property and educating others about its significance.
It’s important to preserve the space and talk about mistakes our country has made in the past. We don’t ever want to repeat these poor choices in the future.
Can You Visit the New Camp Amache?
Located in southeast Colorado, this new national park is open to visitors. It’s located one and a half miles from the Amache Museum in downtown Granada, Colorado. The museum is open five days per week in the summer months.
The grounds of Amache are open during daylight hours, and there’s no fee. Upon entering the grounds, one will see the interpretive kiosks that share information. There’s an audio tour available on the APS website.
Located on signage on the grounds and online is a map that allows visitors to explore what once was. You can also walk the grounds on the walking trail.
Those interested in an in-person pilgrimage from Denver are welcome to take part on May 21, 2022. Information for the pilgrimage, plus a detailed schedule, can be found on the APS website.
Camping Near Amache National Historic Site
End of the Line RV Park
End of the Line RV Park is a small RV park located in Granada. In less than five minutes, you can tour the new national park or the museum in town. The park consists of 10 grass pad RV sites with full hookups.
Priced at about $35 per night, it’s in a good location for a stopover when traveling US Highway 50/385. Campendium’s website list some positive reviews. Unfortunately, the park does not have a website to get more detailed information.
Sundance-High Plains RV Park
Located within a 20-minute drive west of Amache NHS lies Sundance-High Plains RV Park. It has 22 full hookup sites on gravel pads for $39 per night. Two deluxe sites are available with a fire ring and picnic table for $55 per night.
The clubhouse offers a communal kitchenette with complimentary fruit and fresh coffee daily. There’s a coin-operated laundromat onsite as well as a small dog park. The clubhouse also contains communal bathrooms and showers for guests.
RVers can buy fresh eggs in the clubhouse as well. The park offers free Wifi and is big rig friendly. This RV park received the Campendium Campers Choice award in 2020.
Moving Forward While Remembering the Past
Creating this new national park is a vital step in preserving our history. It’s essential to bring a voice to the victims of the internment camps. It’s a step in the right direction to avoid repeating these same atrocities.
If you’re traveling through southeast Colorado, make a quick stop in Granada to learn more. Amache National Historic Site is a space that was full of sadness and confusion. But it’s also where people came together and used their resources to make life manageable.
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I can not agree more with Deb Harland…”facing the wrongs of our past”…might I add that we also lay blame on the people who perpetrated these evils on our fellow Americans?…if only those that profited from slavery…Enacted Jim Crow laws…were members of the kkk…stood in the way of passing civil rights legislation….if only these despicable people were truthfully brought to light and held to account…we might be able to build a more just and equitable future….James A. Harris