Anza Trail Blog

Four-Day Kino Cabalgata Rides Along Anza Trail to Magdalena

by Mark O'Hare, Kino Heritage Society

Tagged as:   Mexico , Missions , Volunteers , equestrian

Por Los Caminos de Kino held its 26th cabalgata Dec. 27-30

[Editor's Note: Eusebio Kino's impact in modern-day Sonora and Arizona was felt generations before and after the Anza Expedition; but both of their stories share a geography and the same complicated legacy of missionization and colonial expansion into Native land.]

Horseback riders from Arizona and Sonora made their 26th annual Kino Cabalgata (pilgrimage on horseback) this Christmas season commemorating one of many rides for justice made by Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J. Sponsored by Por Los Caminos De Kino, the cabalgata departed Tumacácori National Historical Park on Dec. 27, 2013, and ended four days later at the Kino monument and mausoleum in the town square of Magdalena de Kino, Sonora. More than 25 riders participated in Arizona, and many more joined the ride through Sonora.

The riders followed the southbound route that Kino rode to save the life of an innocent Native man. In less than 24 hours, Kino rode 75 miles from Tumacácori to San Ignacio to stop the execution scheduled at dawn. (Generations later, the families and Franciscan priests of the 1775-76 Anza Expedition would retrace this same route on their north-bound journey to colonize Alta California.)

Kino's heroic ride of May 1700 was made on his return trip to his headquarters at Dolores after he spent seven long days and nights traveling and ministering to the Native People living throughout the Santa Cruz River Valley. During that arduous week Kino called Native People throughout the Sonoran Desert to the historic Blue Shell Conference at San Xavier del Bac and he started the foundations of its first church.

It was also during a Christmas season nine years before Kino's heroic ride that Kino first visited modern-day Arizona at the invitation of the people of Tumacácori. Months later he established missions at Guevavi and San Xavier del Bac.

The members of Por Los Caminos de Kino promote the enduring legacy of the famed Jesuit missionary and explorer. Their activities have ranged from the living history cabalgatas to publishing books and internet videos about Kino. The Association was founded in 1987 - the year of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of Kino's entrada into the Pimería Alta - today's northern Sonora and southern Arizona.

The Association’s name Por Los Caminos de Kino can be translated into English as “Following Kino’s Way.” The meaning of the name not only refers to the cabalgatas where members follow Kino's past trails; it also refers to following the example of Kino’s life and his teachings as a guide to living.

In commemoration of Kino's life and legacy, Por Los Caminos de Kino has traversed desert, mountain, river and coast in today's states of Arizona, California, Sonora, Sinaloa, and Baja California Sur and Norte. Frequently during the rides, members will speak at schools about Kino and people in towns will line the streets along the routes to welcome the riders.

In 1996 the Association rode the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail from Hermosillo, Sonora to San Francisco, California, to commemorate Kino's visionary plan to establish a seaport in Alta California. The 1775-76 Anza Expedition fulfilled Kino’s vision 65 years after his death in 1711.

The Association also traveled to Rome in 2006 when the petition for the cause for Kino's sainthood and 150 pounds of supporting documentation were submitted to the Vatican. Kino’s sainthood cause is currently under consideration.

In 2010 a book named after the Association was published. The book entitled "Por Los Caminos de Kino" is about the history of the cabalgatas and the thoughts of its members about Kino and their experiences on the cabalgatas. Founding members Jesús Enrique Salgado and José Luis Salgado are the book's authors.

For more information about Padre Kino and Por Los Caminos de Kino see the Kino Heritage Society's website at or contact Mark O'Hare at


Por Los Caminos de Kino held its 26th cabalgata Dec. 27-30
Photo credit: Joel Smith

Cabalgata riders and supporters at Tumacácori National Historic Park, Dec. 27, 2013
Photo credit: Joel Smith

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