The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail runs through southern Arizona and up the California coast to commemorate the historic route taken in 1774 by de Anza and a small party and in in 1775-1776 with around 240 Spanish colonists to establish the first non-native settlement in the San Francisco area.
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ILNP Park Review
Our Visit I’ve unknowingly traveled portions of the de Anza trail many times by automobile, but my encounters with the NPS managed portions of the trail occurred through visits to Tumacácori NHP, Arizona and the Santa Monica Mountains NRA, California.
Overall Impression Like most historical trails in the National Park System, Juan Bautista de Anza NHT is not an actual end-to-end trail but a collection of trails, roads and historic landmarks along the approximate route of the original expedition. It’s not really a place to visit but rather a way to let visitors who stumble upon it to understand the history of the land they’re traveling.
Visiting Because it lies along some of the busiest highways in America, hundreds of thousands visit portions of this trail every day. Working backwards from the original journey, a trip on US Highway 101 from San Jose to Los Angeles covers the western half of the route well. The portion of the route from LA through Riverside, CA is covered by a combination of Interstates 5, 10, 15 and 215. From Riverside, a series of California highways follow the route through Hemet, Borrego Springs and Calexico where the original trail ran into Mexico. Interstates 8 and 10 roughly follow the route between Yuma and Tucson, Arizona, and Interstate 19 follows the initial leg of the journey between Tucson and Tubac, near Tumacácori NHP (click here for a good map of the route). The trail passes directly through two sites in the National Park System: Tumacácori NHP and Santa Monica Mountains NRA.
- Tumacácori NHP (Tumacácori, AZ)
- Tubac Presidio State Historic Park (Tubac, AZ)
- Mission San Xavier del Bac (Tucson, AZ)
- Yuma Crossing State Historic Park (Yuma, AZ)
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Borrego Springs, CA)
- Bautista Canyon Road (San Bernardino, CA)
- Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (San Gabriel, CA)
- Santa Monica Mountains NRA (Thousand Oaks, CA)
- El Presido de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park (Santa Barbara, CA)
- La Purisma Mission State Historic Park (Lompoc, CA)
- Mission San Luis Obisbo de Tolosa (San Luis Obispo, CA)
- Mission San Antonio de Padua (Jolon, CA)
- Mission San Carlos de Borromeo del Carmelo (Carmel, CA)
- Mission Santa Clara de Asis (Santa Clara, CA)
- Luis Maria Peralta Adobe (San Jose, CA)
- The Presidio of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
- Mission San Francisco de Asis (San Francisco, CA)
- Peralta Hacienda (Oakland, CA)
Suggestions Unless you’re just really into Juan Bautista de Anza or Spanish colonial history, you probably won’t go looking to travel this NHT. However, it’s very interesting history to learn about if you’re visiting one of the sites above or driving the historic route. If you want an NPS passport stamp, I know you can get them (and learn more) at both Tumacácori NHP and Santa Monica Mountains NRA. Tumacácori, in particular, is home to a portion of the hiking trail portion of the NHT that connects Nogales with Tubac, so it would be easy to hike a small portion of the route away from cars here.
Nearby Towns Nogales, Tucson, Gila Bend, Yuma (AZ), Calexico, Borrego Springs, Hemet, Riverside, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterrey, San Jose, Palo Alto, San Francisco, Oakland (CA)
Official NPS Website Juan Bautista de Anza NHT
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