Exploring History, Culture and the Great OutdoorsThe Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail stretches 1,200 miles across 20 counties of Arizona and California. There are many Places to Go and experiences to be had, including learning history, exploring historic sites and hiking scenic trails. Each site is independently operated. Hours, fees, and use rules vary. Contact individual sites for details.
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 José (founded in 1777) and Los Angeles (founded in 1781), their modern development becomes even more marvelous.
The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail has three central components that link together history, culture, and outdoor recreation in Arizona and California:
The Anza Trail's Historic Route is the wide corridor traveled by the colonists and livestock of the Anza Expedition of 1775-76. Expedition diarists mapped and recorded their route and campsites.
Auto Tour Route
An Auto Tour follows the historic route as closely as possible. Drivers can follow Auto Tour signage to experience the sites and vistas encountered by the Anza Expedition (Auto Tour signage not yet posted in Arizona).
A long-term goal for the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a continuous, 1,200-mile, non-motorized recreation trail from Nogales, AZ, to the San Francisco Bay Area. This trail will be created by stitching together existing trails that have been certified official recreation segments of the Anza Trail. Nearly 300 miles of recreation trail have been certified.
The Anza Trail Exhibit: Martinez, California
This multi-sensory experience engages visitors through evocative images and an ambient soundscape of life on the trail, a detailed diorama portraying the vast scope of the expedition party, and interactive displays. The exhibit encompasses perspectives representing the diversity of people whose lives were changed by this significant journey.
John Muir National Historic Site
Interactive MapExplore an interactive map of the Anza Trail's Historic Route, Auto Route, and Recreation Trail at http://www.anzahistorictrail.org.
Yearly EventsMajor Annual Events Along the Anza Trail
In October, Southern Arizona commemorates the departure of the Anza Expedition; every June San Francisco commemorates its arrival.
Passport StampsPassport to Your National Parks
Collect 30+ unique Anza Trail stamps from Mexico, Arizona, and California
Trails and RailsTrails & Rails
Ride the Amtrak along the Anza Trail with National Park Service docents as your guides
Visit our partner website, www.AnzaHistoricTrail.org, to find sites, trail resources, and events along the U.S. portion of the trail. (The historic corridor of the 1775-76 Anza expedition also includes the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Baja California.) While there is no official Anza Trail visitor center, the National Park Service hosts a permanent Anza Trail exhibit in the historic 1849 Martinez Adobe, on the grounds of the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California. Many affiliated historic, cultural, and recreation sites on the Anza Trail offer visitor services and facilities. Inquire before you visit.
Last updated: March 23, 2020