U.S. National Park Service
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (Photo: NPS)
  Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Today
Counties on the trail from south to north: 


Welcome to the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail - 1210 miles of deserts, rivers, oak woodlands, shorelines, grasslands, and chaparral. It's as urban as Tucson, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and as rural and wild as Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Entwined in a city or isolated from civilization, this trail offers adventure, excitement, and an opportunity to experience history in the places where it occurred.

The end of the Anza trail in San Francisco
The end of the Anza trail Photo: NPS

The trail commemorates, protects, marks, and interprets the route traveled by Anza during the years 1774 - 1776. Starting in Sinaloa and Sonora, New Spain (which is now in Mexico), he brought over 200 settlers to San Francisco to establish a mission and presidio there. This feat is made more remarkable when you realize that the west was still a vast wilderness, and cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Barbara did not yet exist. The Anza Trail is therefore unique in its location and historical context. It connects Mexico to San Francisco, and the 18th century to the 21st. It invites travelers to experience the interweaving of the three elements of the Spanish plan for the colonization of its northern frontier: presidios (military forts), missions (religious centers), and pueblos (civilian towns). By following the trail, it becomes easier to grasp the links between the presidios of Tubac, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco, and to see patterns in the location, construction and use of Spanish Missions. By visiting sites marking the humble beginnings of the cities of San Josť (founded in 1777) and Los Angeles (founded in 1781), their modern development becomes even more marvelous.

Anza encountered many American Indians along his travels, and many were instrumental in the success of his expeditions. The richness and variety of American Indian cultures is therefore also displayed along the trail. For example, visitors can learn about the materials and techniques of Rumsen basket weaving along the marked trail on Fort Ord Public Lands in Monterey. You can visit the O'odham plaza at Mission San Xavier del Bac, picnic at the Tongva portion of Smith Park near Mission San Gabriel, or explore the vitality of the Chumash culture at several sites.

The National Park Service promotes the preservation of public access to areas related to the Anza expedition so that they can be enjoyed and appreciated. The purpose of the Anza Trail is thus to preserve a significant part of the history of the southwest and to provide the means for a diverse group of Americans to make connections to the story of the Anza expeditions and the people affected by them. You can have a firsthand appreciation of many of the experiences of expedition members. You can drive the Anza Trail from Nogales, Arizona, to San Francisco, California, or simply visit places in between to experience the trail and its stories at your own speed. You can walk, hike, or ride along the recreational trail, or visit nearly a hundred historical sites.

Details about individual counties along the trail can be reached through the County Selection List above. Driving directions, hiking and biking ideas, sites of interest and links to additional resources on the Web are all included on these pages.

In the words of Captain Juan Bautista de Anza, "¡Vayan subiendo!" (Let's go everybody!).


Back to Juan Bautista de Anza Trail Guide Homepage.

Listen to tracks on the Anza Trail Guide CD.

Learn more about the Anza Trail CD and Music.

Learn more about the Anza Trail Guide Project.

Look up names, locations and terms in the Glossary.

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