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History and Culture

In 1775-76, Lt Colonel Juan Bautista de Anza led more than 240 men, women, and children on an overland journey across the frontier of New Spain to settle Alta California. Follow 1200 miles in the footsteps of this intrepid, multiethnic expedition, and explore the rich cultural history of communities from Nogales, Arizona, to San Francisco.

The 1,200-mile Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail commemorates, protects, marks, and interprets the route traveled by Anza and the colonists during the years 1775 and 1776 from Sonora, Mexico (New Spain), to settle Alta California and establish a mission and presidio at today’s San Francisco, California. The Anza Trail traverses land that historically belonged to the many indigenous peoples of California and Arizona. This land remains culturally significant to these indigenous communities and the Anza Trail recognizes the importance of their perspectives on this colonial story. The Anza Trail was designated a National Historic Trail by Congress in 1990 through an amendment to the National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1241-51).

Explore what was happening along the trail and its historic significance by visiting the following pages:

The Anza Trail

1775 – 1776 Expedition

Learn about contemporary individuals that still hold ties to the land and the residents along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail by visiting the Modern Stories.

Modern Stories