Over 240 people set out from Tubac on October 23, 1775. The first night out, the settlers suffered their only death en route when María Ignacia Manuela Piñuelas Féliz died from complications from childbirth. They stopped at Mission San Xavier del Bac on October 25, 1775 to mourn the death of Manuela, and to celebrate three marriages of the expedition’s members. They then followed the Santa Cruz River northward.
From Santa Cruz County, follow I-19 north into Pima County. Look for several interpretive panels near expedition campsites. Visit the area of La Canoa at the roadside rest stop. Stop at Mission San Xavier del Bac. In Tucson, stop near the area of Congress St. and visit Sentinel Peak and the Santa Cruz River Park. Leaving Tucson, drive northwest on I-10 to Pinal County. For an in depth local tour, see Local Auto Route below.
Local Auto Route: Take the I-19 frontage road to the entrance to Canoa Ranch, where the route briefly returns onto I-19. At Continental Rd., exit and go left to Duval Mine Road. Continue west to Mission Road. Turn right and travel for several miles to Congress St. and downtown Tucson. Past Sentinel Peak, turn left on Congress St. to Silverbell Rd., and left on Lambert Road to Airline Road. Turn right on Airline Road and left on Avra Valley Rd. to Sanders Road. Turn right on Sanders Rd. to Silverbell Road. Continue north on Silverbell Road to Trico-Marana Road. Turn east to I-10 north of Marana.
Stroll the grounds at Mission San Xavier del Bac, or walk along the Santa Cruz river near Camps # 16 or 18, or at the Santa Cruz River Park in Tucson. Use the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona brochure for guidance.
Mission San Xavier del Bac - Expedition Camp #17
Established by Jesuit Father Kino in 1692 at the site of an existing Piman (Akimel O’odham) village, the mission was under Franciscan control when the expedition stopped here on October 25, 1775. Father Thomás Eixarch of the expedition baptized baby José. He made it to Mission San Gabriel in California, but died about nine months later. Construction of the present mission church was started in 1783. Located off I-19 along the Santa Cruz River, it is a part of the Tohono O’odham reservation. The mission church, an active parish, has a museum.
Pueblo de Tuquison - Expedition Camp #18
The garrison of the presidio of Tubac was moved to Tucson in 1776 after the expedition left, and was renamed San Agustín de Tuquison (Tucson). In 1775, Father Font remarked that it was a visita of San Xavier del Bac, meaning that it was a place that the missionaries visited, but was not permanently occupied. Today, the name is spelled Tucson, and several of its downtown museums highlight the area’s history. These include the Tucson Museum of Art, the Arizona State Museum, and the Arizona Historical Society. To view the route of the expedition from a higher vantage point, try nearby Sentinel Peak. The Santa Cruz River Park in Tucson contains a multi-use trail within the historic corridor. El Paseo de los Árboles, “The Pathway of the Trees,” is located along the west bank of the Santa Cruz River Park between Irvington Rd. and Ajo Way, and a tree there is dedicated to Anza.
La Canoa - Expedition Camps #15 and #16
La Canoa (the “watering trough”) was the first campsite after the expedition left its final assembly point at Tubac. Here on the evening of October 23rd, José Antonio Capistrano Féliz was born feet first, and his mother, María Ignacia Manuela Piñuelas Féliz, died the next morning. Father Font and the colonists said the Rosary and sang the Salve de la Virgen de los Dolores for the deceased as they reached Punta de los Llanos (Camp #16). Father Garcés and four soldiers went ahead to the Mission with Manuela’s body. Near Camp #15, look for an interpretive sign at a roadside rest area along I-19 near Canoa Ranch.
Saguaro National Park - Expedition Camps #19 and #20
The name of Camp #19, Puerto del Azotado, stems from the punishment of two muleteers who tried to run away, but were captured by Indians at Anza’s request. The name Oitpar (Camp #20) is thought to mean ‘Old Town’ in O’odham, and refers to the site of a village destroyed by Apaches. Along the way today, Saguaro National Park offers a spectacular view of the desert as it appeared to the expedition. The cactus and other plants found there give visitors an idea of the raw materials available to the local peoples.
Arizona Historical Society
Arizona State Museum
Santa Cruz River Park
To view the route of the expedition from a higher vantage point, try nearby Sentinel Peak.
Tucson Museum of Art
Arizona Historical Society Second Street Museum
949 E. Second St, Tucson, AZ 85719
Arizona State Museum
University of Arizona, 1013 E. University Blvd., Tucson, AZ 85721
Arizona State Parks and Recreation Dept.
City of Tucson Parks and Recreation Dept.
900 South Randolph Way, Tucson, AZ 85716
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in Pima County
Mission San Xavier del Bac
1950 W. San Xavier Rd., Tucson, AZ 85746
Saguaro National Park
3693 South Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, AZ 85730
Tohono O'odham Nation, San Xavier District
2018 W. San Xavier Rd, Tucson, AZ 85746