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It was over 225 years ago that the Anza Expedition traveled an overland route by horse and by foot leading from the Sonoran desert in today's northern Mexico to the San Francisco Bay (for more on this, see Historical Context).

In geographical time, that was not really very long ago. Anza and his entourage saw the same mountains we see today, rising from the same deserts and the same coastal areas. Some aspects of the landscape of today is, however, somewhat different from the one Anza encountered, changed by roads, dams, and buildings. Even rivers have been re-routed and their flows increased or decreased to meet the needs of modern civilization.

Looking at these shaded relief maps, without the advantage of roads and bridges, one can see the kinds of geologic challenges the explorers encountered.

For example, the differences between today's landscape and that of 1775 is most noticeable in the San Francisco bay region. The bay has changed greatly over the years, partly due to human engineering and partly due to natural influences. To see how the bay looked around 1775, go to the San Francisco Estuary Institute's EcoAtlas.

The Four Regions
The maps are divided into four main regions, subdivided to show detail:

In each of these regions, significant events took place. Most of these four maps are also subdivided into smaller sections that you may choose among.

Layers showing modern features such as roads, towns and modern streams can be turned on and off using the buttons below the maps. These modern features were drawn from current GIS data, and provide some indication of where the historic trail was in relation to modern landmarks that we know. Each map is made up of at least three layer selections. The shaded relief shows elevation and is always visible. The Historic Trail is featured in gold, and follows the path where scholars have determined it probably was.

Links to More Information
The expedition campsites are marked by number, and linked to information on a separate page. The map links (seen when your mouse rolls over them) provide information about placenames and locations, and connect you to the full text of the original diaries, pictures, other maps, and organizing resources such as a chronology of events, a list of campsites, and a list of the people on the journey.

To get a better view of the maps, zoom in by right clicking (PC), or Cmd-clicking (Mac), and selecting "zoom in."

Shaded Relief
These relief maps were created using modern GIS data, but for comparison, we have provided links to historical geographic maps when possible. To create the shaded relief, we used modern GIS data from various sources.


The References
The sources of the various types of information is either from scholars or texts, or content developers who summarized material from longer texts. Our sincere appreciation go to Don Garate (D.G.), the Chief of Interpretation at the Tumacacori State Historic Park, who wrote many of the explanations and descriptions of places mentioned in the original diaries; and Meredith Kaplan, the National Park Service Director of the Anza Historic Trail, who gave us permission to use the NPS Comprehensive Management and Use Plan Final Environmental Impact Statement, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (FEIS), which contains a wealth of information about the Anza trail. The FEIS and other published references are listed in our bibliography.

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  Shaded relief maps:

California Desert Mountain Pass Region

Santa Barbara Coastal Region
San Francisco Bay Area

Yuma Desert Region


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1998-2001 Center for Advanced Technology in Education, University of Oregon
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Revised November 20, 2003

These shaded relief regional maps were created with funding from the National Parks Service.