Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail? The National Park Service administers a 1,200-mile historic trail from Nogales, Arizona, to the San Francisco Bay Area. The historic corridor of the Anza Expedition includes an additional 600 miles in northern Mexico. Explore an interactive map of the trail at

Where is the visitor center? The Anza Trail does not have an official visitor center. A permanent exhibit is located at the historic 1849 Martinez Adobe on the grounds of the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, Calif. The trail's administrative office is located in San Francisco.

What is a National Trail? Much like a national park, a national trail is created by an act of Congress. There are currently 30 national scenic and historic trails in the National Trails System. National scenic trails are hike-through trails designated for their natural beauty, environmental importance, and opportunity for outdoor recreation. National historic trails commemorate historic trade, migration, and other routes important to American culture.

What is the Anza Trail? The Anza Trail commemorates the men, women, and children of the 1775-76 Spanish colonial expedition that traveled on foot from New Spain (now México) to settle San Francisco in Alta California.

Who was Juan Bautista de Anza? Juan Bautista de Anza was a Spanish Captain who established the overland route from New Spain to Alta California in 1774-75, and then recruited and led more than 240 settlers and 1000 head of cattle along the same route the following year.

What was the duration of the 1775-76 Anza Expedition? Approximately 8 months. The expedition departed its final assemblage point, the Tubac Presidio, on October 23, 1775. After a 5 month journey and leaving the families to rest at the Monterey Presidio, Anza and a small scouting party arrived at the Golden Gate on March 26, 1776. The families of the expedition arrived to build the San Francisco Presidio on June 27, 1776 -- 8 months and 4 days after their departure from Tubac.

How far had they traveled? About 1,800 miles.

What was the purpose of the expedition? To expand Spain's dominion over Alta California and its Native population by establishing the empire's northernmost presidio (military fort) and mission at San Francisco, and to populate the region with colonist families and provisions for a sustainable settlement.

What was the composition of the expedition? More than 240 colonists, including 30 soldiers, their wives, and more than 100 children. Eight women were pregnant at the outset of the journey. The colonists were an ethnically diverse mix of Native American, European, and African heritage. The expedition also included:
Father Pedro Font, the expedition chaplain
1000 head of livestock, including cattle, horses, and mules
Vaqueros, muleteers, servants, and Native American guides

Where there any fatalities? The evening the expedition departed from the Tubac Presidio, María Ignacia Manuela Piñuelas went into labor. She was one of eight women who were pregnant at the expedition's outset. She delivered a healthy baby boy, but passed away due to complications from the childbirth. María Piñuelas would be the only fatality suffered during the expedition's long march from Tubac to San Francisco.

What is the legacy of the expedition? We can find much relevance today in the story of the Anza Expedition. For example:

-- The colonists' arrival represents a key turning point in the changed cultural and natural landscape of the American West.

-- The expedition's success was due in part to Anza's diplomacy toward Native peoples along the route and the support they offered the colonists; the settlers' arrival, meanwhile, heralded the end of a way of life for Native California.

-- The story of diversity in America is a thread that links modern times back to the ethnic diversity of California's first colonist families, and indeed back to the diversity of Native California.

-- American history is the story of northward migration as much as of westward expansion.

Want more information?
Jump to the Story of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Last updated: May 20, 2013

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