Anza Trail Historic Sites in Arizona

Sidewalk leading up to a Mission building, surrouded by trees and grass. Bright, sunny day.
Tumacácori National Historical Park. NPS photo.
 
 

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Santa Cruz County
Pima County
Pinal
Yuma

Below is a partial list of the historic and cultural sites along the 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in Arizona (see California sites here). Each site is independently operated. Hours, fees, and use rules vary. Contact individual sites for details. For an interactive map of all Anza Trail resources, visit http://www.anzahistorictrail.org
 

Santa Cruz County

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail starts here. Anza began recruiting settlers and soldiers in the Spring of 1775. They assembled in San Miguel de Horcasitas (now in Mexico) and departed on September 29, 1775, heading north. The final assembly was at Tubac Presidio, where they left Spanish civilization behind and traveled 890 miles to Monterey, California.

Sites of Interest

Las Lagunas and Expedition Camp #13
This campsite in Nogales is at a cienaga, or marsh, which is in private hands. It can be viewed by taking exit 5 off of northbound I-19 to Country Club Drive North and turning west. Park in the St. Andrew's Church parking lot, but do not overstay your welcome, since it's private land. The Desert Shadows Middle School in Nogales is home to a large Anza mural.

Río Rico Trail
Starting at the staging area parking lot off of Río Rico Rd., several miles of trail parallel Anza's route. From here, one can bike or walk to Tumacácori if it's not too hot. Look for several small stone trail signs.

Tumacácori National Historical Park
Mission San José de Tumacácori is located on highway I-19 about 18 miles north of Nogales, and was first listed in 1691 as an outlying visita(a mission station without a resident priest) by the famous Jesuitmissionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. By 1701, the village was avisita of the mission at Guevavi, and in 1771, Tumacácori was made the head mission of the district, and Guevavi was abandoned. San Cayetano de Calabasas is the adobe remnants of a site first occupied about 1756 as a Spanish mission visita. Father Pedro Font held mass here on October 17, 1775, as the expedition moved toward Tubac. Construction of the present mission church was begun around 1802. The visitor center is a National Historic Landmark and includes a museum. Visits to Calabasas and Guevavi can be arranged at the park's headquarters. A trail connects Tumacácori and Tubac along the Santa Cruz river through beautiful riparian habitat containing cottonwoods and mesquite. Look for several large ramadas enclosing interpretive panels about Anza's expeditions and the natural history of the area.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Expedition Camp #14
Anza served as the Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac's second commander from 1760-1776. About fifty cavalrymen were stationed at this remote outpost, founded in 1752 in response to an uprising by the local Akimel O'odham (Pima) tribe. Anza's house, made of adobe bricks, was located here in what is now Tubac Presidio State Historic Park (four miles north of Tumacácori, Tubac Rd. and Presidio Dr.). The adjacent area was the old Tubac Barrio (community). Today, it's managed by the Archeological Conservancy, and they arrange visits. A group called Los Tubaqueños offers period interpretation at the park. A re-enactment of the expedition's passage through Tubac takes place annually during the Anza Days.

 
AZ - Santa Cruz - Las Lagunas

Las Lagunas de Anza Wetland

(Passport Stamp Location) (Certified Site)
"At three in the afternoon [we] halted at the place called Las Lagunas, having traveled some eight long leagues." Diary of Pedro Font, Oct. 14, 1775
Las Laguas de Anza, a privately managed wetland, was restored by the Santa Fe Ranch Foundation. This site served as campsite #13 for the Anza Expedition.
 
AZ - Santa Cruz - Tumacacori

Tumacácori National Historical Park

(Passport Stamp Location)

1891 East Frontage Rd.
Tumacacori, AZ 85640
(520) 377-5060

This site reveals the Native, Spanish, and other cultures that have inhabited the Santa Cruz River Valley.

 
AZ - Santa Cruz - Tubac Presidio

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Museum

(Passport Stamp Location)

1 Burruel Street
Tubac, AZ 85646
(520) 398-2252

"The people, pack-animals, horses, and cattle which were to go on the expedition were finally gathered together -- the different numbers of these I do not set down, as I did not succeed in ascertaining them -- and it was determined to continue the journey on the following day." Diary of Pedro Font, Oct. 22, 1775

Anza served as commander of the Tubac Presidio, and this site was the formal launching point for the Anza Expedition.

 

Pima County

Over 240 people set out from Tubac on October 23, 1775. The first night out, the settlers suffered their only death en route when María Ignacia Manuela Piñuelas Féliz died from complications from childbirth. They stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac on October 25, 1775 to mourn the death of Manuela, and to celebrate three marriages of the expedition's members. They then followed the Santa Cruz River northward.

Sites of Interest

La Canoa and Expedition Camps #15 and #16
La Canoa (the "watering trough") was the first campsite after the expedition left its final assembly point at Tubac. Here on the evening of October 23rd, José Antonio Capistrano Féliz was born feet first, and his mother, María Ignacia Manuela Piñuelas Féliz, died the next morning. Father Font and the colonists said the Rosary and sang the Salve de la Virgen de los Dolores for the deceased as they reached Punta de los Llanos (Camp #16). Father Garcés and four soldiers went ahead to the Mission with Manuela's body. Near Camp #15, look for an interpretive sign at a roadside rest area along I-19 near Canoa Ranch.

Mission San Xavier del Bac and Expedition Camp #17
Established by Jesuit Father Kino in 1692 at the site of an existing Piman (Akimel O'odham) village, the mission was under Franciscan control when the expedition stopped here on October 25, 1775. Father Thomás Eixarch of the expedition baptized baby José. He made it to Mission San Gabriel in California, but died about nine months later. Construction of the present mission church was started in 1783. Located off I-19 along the Santa Cruz River, it is a part of the Tohono O'odham reservation. The mission church, an active parish, has a museum.

Pueblo de Tuquison and Expedition Camp #18
The garrison of the presidio of Tubac was moved to Tucson in 1776 after the expedition left, and was renamed San Agustín de Tuquison(Tucson). In 1775, Father Font remarked that it was a visita of San Xavier del Bac, meaning that it was a place that the missionaries visited, but was not permanently occupied. Today, the name is spelled Tucson, and several of its downtown museums highlight the area's history. These include the Tucson Museum of Art, the Arizona State Museum, and the Arizona Historical Society. To view the route of the expedition from a higher vantage point, try nearby Sentinel Peak. The Santa Cruz River Park in Tucson contains a multi-use trail within the historic corridor. El Paseo de los Árboles, "The Pathway of the Trees," is located along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River Park between Irvington Rd. and Ajo Way, and a tree there is dedicated to Anza.

Saguaro National Park and Expedition Camps #19 and #20
The name of Camp #19, Puerto del Azotado, stems from the punishment of two muleteers who tried to run away, but were captured by Indians at Anza's request. The name Oitpar (Camp #20) is thought to mean 'Old Town' in O'odham, and refers to the site of a village destroyed by Apaches. Along the way today, Saguaro National Park offers a spectacular view of the desert as it appeared to the expedition. The cactus and other plants found there give visitors an idea of the raw materials available to the local peoples.
 
AZ - Pima - La Canoa

Historic Hacienda de la Canoa

(Passport Stamp Location)
5375 S. I-19 Frontage Road

Green Valley, AZ
(520) 724-5520

"This night the wife of a soldier...died in childbirth, and the next day was taken to the mission of San Xavier del Bac for burial." Diary of Pedro Font, Oct. 23, 1775
María Pinuelas, the lone fatality of the Anza Expedition, perished after giving birth at this site, just one day after the expedition's departure from the Tubac Presidio. This site served as campsite #15.
 
AZ - Pima - Mission San Xavier

San Xavier del Bac Mission

1950 W San Xavier Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85746
(520) 294-2624

"I had solemnized three marriages of members of the expedition, and during the Mass I veiled the newly married couples." Diary of Pedro Font, Oct. 26, 1775

 
AZ - Pima - Tucson Presidio

Presidio San Agustín

(Passport Stamp Location)
196 N. Court Ave.

Tucson, AZ 85701
(520) 837-8119

The Presidio in Tucson provides exhibits, programs, and historic re-enactment about the Spanish colonial era of Arizona history.

 

Pinal County

The expedition followed the Santa Cruz River Valley for several miles before turning north just past Picacho Peak to reach known sources of water. Font and Anza made a detour to survey the Casa Grande ruins. After following the Gila for several miles through what is now the Gila River Indian Community, they camped at Laguna del Hospital (Camp #25). They then continued west, bypassing a bend in the Gila River.

Sites of Interest

Picacho Peak State Park and Expedition Camp #21
On October 29, 1775, Father Font describes that the expedition camped at a place "a little beyond a picacho or peak which the Indians called Tacca." Anza called the place, "the flat of El Aquituni." Upon leaving the next day, Anza comments on a, "...lack of water, any of which is found only by rare accident. Nevertheless, no dissatisfaction whatever has been shown by the people who have made the march, and this is a thing to marvel at, especially in the women and children, and their patience under the hardships is an indication of the contentment with which they are accepting their lot." Picacho Peak was often used as a landmark. During the 17th century, the Jesuit priest Father Kino mentioned Picacho Peak in records of his journeys. In 1846, the Mormon Battalion, on their way to California to fight in the war with Mexico, constructed a wagon road through Picacho Pass. Today, Picacho Peak State Park is found a little west of Anza's camp. An Anza Trail interpretive exhibit is found on the west side of the park overlooking a campsite area and the Anza route through the Santa Cruz River valley.

Casa Grande and Expedition Camps #22-25
As noted by Anza and Font, expedition Camps #22 to #25 were at Pima villages, where the expedition was well-received and cared for, as illustrated in what Font wrote, "...These Pima Indians of the Gila are gentle and of good heart, and to show their appreciation for our coming they begged permission from the commander [Anza] to dance, and then they went from tent to tent of the soldiers dancing, the women linked together in their fashion." The campsites are within the boundaries of the Gila River Indian Community today. The Anza expedition camped approximately five miles to the northwest of the Casa Grande, and on October 31, 1775, Font and Anza visited the ruins there in order to check the accuracy of Father Kino's prior descriptions and measurements. At this time Font recorded the Bitter Man story as told to him by a Pima native. The Casa Grande ruins, which translates as the "Big House", date to around A.D. 900-1450 and include an ancient Hohokam farming village as well as the four-story Great House.

The ruins were the first archaeological preserve in the United States and are today located within Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (1100 Ruins Dr., Coolidge, AZ). They are about an hour drive from either Phoenix or Tucson. The Gila Indian Center museum is located along Interstate 10 at the Casa Blanca Interchange. The Gila Heritage Park, run by the tribe, features self-guided tours of traditional Indian homes including the Pima, Maricopa, Papago and the Apache. Camp #25 (November 3-6) was called Laguna del Hospital because the sickness experienced there by the animals as well as two women. One of the women, who was pregnant, was given medicines.
 
Rock ruins and a metal cover over them.
Sivan Vah'Ki, at Casa Grande Ruins in Arizona. NPS photo.
 

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

Explore the mystery and complexity of an extended network of communities and irrigation canals. An Ancient Sonoran Desert People's farming community and "Great House" are preserved at Casa Grande Ruins. Whether the Casa Grande was a gathering place for the Desert People or simply a waypoint marker in an extensive system of canals and trading partners is but part of the mystique of the Ruins.

"We had an opportunity to go and examine the house that is called La Casa Grande de Moctezuma... We were accompanied there by several Indians...who told us on the way a tale and tradition regarding the house, handed down from their forefathers." Diary of Pedro Font, Oct. 30, 1775
 

Yuma County

Past Agua Caliente, the expedition continued southwest along the Gila River. At Cerro de San Pasqual (Camp #34), the expedition had their second birth. They crossed the Gila again near the Colorado river, and crossed the latter without serious incident with the help of the Yuma people and their chief, Salvador Palma. Father Garcés was carried over on the shoulders of three Yumas, two at his head and one at his feet, lying stretched out face up.

Sites of Interest

Cerro de San Pasqual, Sears Point and Expedition Camps #32-#34
Before making camp at Cerro de San Pasqual (#34) November 18, 1775, they crossed the Gila again. It was at this camp that the expedition had their second birth since leaving Tubac, a boy named Diego Pasqual Gutiérrez. They rested there until the 22nd to let the mother and child recover. In the meantime, Carlos, a leader of the Cocomaricopa, arrived with a few of his tribesmen to travel with Anza to Yuma. The exact position of some of the camps along the river is uncertain because it has varied in its course over time. Today, the Sears Point Petroglyphs are situated above the flood plain of the river. The area is protected and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Antelope Hill and Expedition Camp #35
Font called the site Cerro de Santa Cecilia del Metate, naming it for the grinding stones made by the Indians. It was here that a expectant mother in pain was given medicine to protect her from miscarriage. A nearby site at Antelope Hill is located about six miles east of Wellton and is a prominent geologic feature beside the Gila River. The site, partially destroyed by quarrying, contains protected American Indian petroglyphs and a grinding stone quarry important to several tribes in the area. There is an interpretive kiosk at the base of the hill.

Along the Gila and Expedition Camps #36-#38
Camps #36 to #38 were on the south side of the Gila River. At the first camp, a native arrived telling that the leader of the Yuma was waiting to welcome the expedition. At Camp #38, at the Gila River Pass between the Laguna and the Gila Mountains, Anza writes, "Salvador Palma, captain of the Yumas, arrived at our camp with a following of more than thirty of his people, all unarmed. As soon as he saw me he began to embrace me and to give me the most emphatic signs of joy and satisfaction at my arrival, which he told me was shared by all his tribe and all those along the river who know me."

Yuma Crossing and Expedition Camps #39 - #41
Anza's Camp #39 was made after the expedition's third crossing of the Gila River. At night, they were entertained with Yuma (Quechan) and Maricopa singing and the beating of drums. With the help of Palma and his Yuma tribe, they safely crossed the Colorado River on November 30, 1775, and made Camp (#40) near its banks. They moved to Palma's village on December 3 (#41), where a shelter was being built for Fathers Garcés and Eixarch, who remained with several interpreters and servants (including Sebastián Tarabal). Prison Hill, part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, looks out over Camps #39-#41. The Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park (201 N. 4th Ave. in Yuma) displays an interpretive exhibit for the Anza Trail overlooking the Colorado River and interprets American period artifacts.

 
AZ - Maricopa - Petroglyph

Painted Rock Petroglyph Site

This ancient archaeological site, approximately 90 miles southwest of Phoenix, contains hundreds of symbolic and artistic rock etchings produced centuries ago by prehistoric peoples. Many well-known events in Arizona history occurred near the Petroglyph Site, including the Anza Expedition
 
River flowing through grassy plane.
Colorado River in Yuma.

Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park

(Passport Stamp Location)

"We arrived at the junction of the Gila and Colorado Rivers, where, after safely crossing the first stream by a good ford, camp was made for the night." Diary of Juan Bautista de Anza, Nov. 28, 1775.

The many layers of history that converge at this site include one of the most iconic chapters of the Anza Expedition, the crossing of the Colorado River with the aid of the Quechan people.


Last updated: August 31, 2017

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