Anza Trail Historic Sites in Arizona
Quick LinksSanta Cruz County
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
Río Rico Trail
Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Expedition Camp #14
"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.
(Passport Stamp Location)
1891 East Frontage Rd.
This site reveals the Native, Spanish, and other cultures that have inhabited the Santa Cruz River Valley.
(Passport Stamp Location)
1 Burruel Street
"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 CountyOver 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 InterestLa 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.
(Passport Stamp Location)
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.
1950 W San Xavier Rd.
"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
(Passport Stamp Location)
The Presidio in Tucson provides exhibits, programs, and historic re-enactment about the Spanish colonial era of Arizona history.
Pinal CountyThe 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 InterestPicacho 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.
"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 CountyPast 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
Antelope Hill and Expedition Camp #35
Along the Gila and Expedition Camps #36-#38
Yuma Crossing and Expedition Camps #39 - #41
"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.
Last updated: June 17, 2017