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Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail marker

Stretching from Nogales, Arizona to the Presidio of San Francisco, the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail commemorates the journey made by de Anza in 1775 and 1776 to establish a new, secure route from Sonora up into Alta California . Competition between Russian, English, and Spanish colonizers for control of California made it necessary for the Spanish to find a new road with which to connect the missions to each other, and to people and supplies in Mexico. Used by the military, the Church, and by civilians, the trail secured Spain’s foothold in California.

Overview of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail auto tour route and historic trail corridor. The trail extends over 1200 miles from Nogales, Arizona to San Francisco, California.  (Image courtesy of the National Park Service)Today, over 1200 miles of the trail can be traveled by car, and there are several hundred miles to be traveled on foot. The trail goes through cities, over mountain ranges, and through national and state parks in California and Arizona. Several missions and presidios built along the trail still exist and are open to visitors, including Tubac Presidio State Historic Park in Arizona, El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park, the Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, and the Mission San Luis Obispo.

The particular section of the National Historic Trail shown below extends from Yuma Crossing on the California-Arizona border, down into Mexico, and back up through western Imperial County lands, managed by the BLM, and into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Visitors to lands managed by the BLM El Centro Field Office can visit the Yuha Desert Conservation Area and hike, bike, ride horseback, or drive along sections of the trail (routes 274 & 308). The Yuha Desert is home to a twenty mile stretch of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail. In the winter of 1775, Anza led 300 men, women and children across the Yuha on their way to San Francisco. Through freezing temperatures and blinding snow, the group struggled forward and succeeded. Today, visitors travel the historic route in the Yuha to get a feel for what the expedition entailed, passing by the Yuha Well and several prehistoric geoglyphs made by Native Americans. California State Historic Marker Number 1008 discusses the Yuha Well, and is located at the Eastbound Sunbeam Roadside Rest Area on Interstate Highway 8, near Seeley.  A brochure guide to the trail is available in English and Spanish at the BLM El Centro Field Office.

Map of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail : Imperial County segment. (Image courtesy of the National Park Service).

For more information on the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in Imperial County, contact the BLM El Centro Field Office at (760) 337-4400 or visit the U.S. National Park Service website at http://www.nps.gov/juba/ .

The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is a component of the National Landscape Conservation System.