Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Commemorative plaque at Yuha Well, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza was a Spanish Captain in charge of the Presidio of Tubac in what is now southern Arizona. His father (of the same name) had been a Spanish frontier military officer before him. In 1775, he was put in charge of an expedition to settle Alta California. In 1775-6, he led almost 300 people from near what is now Nogales, Arizona to Monterey and the area of San Francisco Bay. These are the folks who later founded San Jose, Santa Clara and the Presidio of San Francisco. They visited the Presidio of Santa Barbara and San Gabriel Mission. Along the journey they visited with nearly every Indian tribe they met and established peaceful relations with all of them. Many of their campsites later became the sites of church missions.

The 1,210 mile route between Tubac and San Francisco is now officially known as the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Most of what we now know about the journey and the route taken comes from entries in the diary kept by de Anza himself and the diary kept by Father Pedro Font, a missionary who accompanied the group.

On delivering the new colonists to the vicinity of Monterey, de Anza's mission from the Viceroy was complete. However, he and the Father with twelve other members of the expedition continued to explore to the north and discovered the first overland route to San Francisco Bay. De Anza returned to Tubac in 1777 and was appointed Governor of Nuevo Mexico in 1779.

A lot of things have changed since 1776. Some sections of the historic route are now private property, some sections are included in military establishments, some are otherwise inaccessible. A lot of the route now parallels many sections of Interstate highway. When you explore the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail you'll come across signs signifying the Historic Route and the Auto Tour Route. The only info you might find (other than on the web) is likely to be found in local visitor centers along the route of the trail. Below the map below you'll find links to some excellent resources on the web.

Map of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
Map of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail logo
Photo and map are courtesy of the National Park Service.
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