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The Anza Trail

Follow in the footsteps of history.

The Journey That Begins Here

Discover the Spanish history of the American Southwest along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. Southern Arizona is the gateway to this 1,210-mile trail that commemorates the route followed in 1775-76 by Spanish commander Juan Bautista de Anza II, who led a party of more than 200 colonists on an expedition from Mexico to found a presidio and mission near the San Francisco Bay. Start the tour in Southern Arizona at one of the following sites:



Video: The Anza Expedition

Mission San José de Tumacácori (now, located on Interstate 19 about 18 miles north of Nogales, was first listed in 1691 as an outlying vista by the famous Jesuit missionary Father Eusebio Francisco Kino. Father Font, the priest who traveled with Anza, spent several days at Tumacácori while Anza marshaled his forces at Tubac. The mission also contributed a small herd of cattle to the expedition. A hiking and equestrian trail runs 4.5 miles between Tumacácori National Historical Park and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park to the north. The trail crosses the beautiful Santa Cruz River several times.

Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac was founded in 1752 in response to a Pima Indian Revolt. Juan Bautista de Anza II, second commander of the presidio, staged two overland expeditions to Alta California from this location. The ruins of the presidio can be viewed through an underground archeological exhibit at Tubac Presidio State Historic Park. Guided tours and hands-on interpretation programs are available on request. Picnic tables are provided for visitors. 

Arizona's oldest European settlement, Tubac was once the site of a Spanish presidio. It's now a thriving arts community, known as the place "Where Art and History Meet." This charming village is full of art galleries and restaurants to fill an afternoon. 

Mission San Xavier del Bac, a part of the Tohono O'odham Indian Reservation located off I-19 along the Santa Cruz River, is an active parish administered by the Franciscans. Father Kino established the mission in 1732. This church was built between 1783 and 1797, and authorities have acclaimed it as one of the finest examples of Spanish mission architecture in the U.S. It is a graceful blending of Moorish, Byzantine, and late Mexican Renaissance styles. On the hill to the east is a replica of the grotto in Lourdes, France.


More Anza Sights

Interpretive Exhibit 

Installed at a day-use campsite on the west side of Picacho Peak State Park overlooking a campsite area and the Anza Trail through the Santa Cruz River Valley.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument 

Located on Arizona state Hwy 87 outside the town of Coolidge, the ruins were visited and named by Father Kino in 1694 when friendly Pimas took him to see the mysterious abandoned complex. The Anza expedition camped approximately five miles to the northwest, and on Oct. 31, 1775, Father Font and Anza visited the ruins to check the accuracy of Kino's descriptions and measurements.

Yuma, Arizona

Here the Anza party crossed the Colorado River to continue north through what is now California.

Hiking and Biking Trails 

The 4.5-mile trail from Tumacácori to Tubac meanders through the shaded Santa Cruz River Valley and closely follows Anza's original route. The Santa Cruz River Park follows the dry Santa Cruz River in the City of Tucson. It has a multi-use trail within the historic corridor and offers the potential for interpretation of the Anza Trail. Picacho Peak State Park offers extensive hiking trails through the area and is especially beautiful during the April-May wildflower season.

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