Visit Riverside County - Christmas Eve's Camp to the Santa Ana River

The expedition continued up Coyote Canyon and camped at the top of Upper Willows on Christmas Eve. Here, they met the natives of the Cahuilla tribe whom they called the Danzantes (Dancers), and the colonists later held a fandango. Traveling on via Bautista Canyon, they followed the San Jacinto River and reached the Santa Ana River, where they camped on New Year's Eve. They then proceeded westerly toward Mission San Gabriel.

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Driving Directions for Auto Route

Continuing on the route from San Diego County, follow CA 79 north to its intersection with CA 371. Turn northeast on CA 371 and stop in the town of Anza. Continuing on, turn left (north) on Bautista Canyon Rd. to the San Bernardino National Forest, where the road is unpaved for several miles. Continue to Fairview Ave. in Hemet, and turn right (north). At its intersection with Florida Ave./CA 74, turn west (left) onto CA 74. Turn north (right) on Mountain Ave., which becomes the Ramona Expressway. Follow this expressway west to Lake Perris and then I-215. Go north on I-215 to CA-60, and go west on I-60. In Riverside or Rubidoux, visit the Santa Ana River. Continue on CA-60 to I-15, and go north on I-15 and take I-10 west. To continue along this route, see Los Angeles County.

Hiking/Biking Ideas

From the town of Anza, or from the Pacific Crest Trail, one can hike back to the Upper Willows in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Alternatively, you can start at the southern end of the park and hike up Coyote Canyon. You can also stretch your legs in the San Bernardino National Forest, or at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area and walk around the Lake Perris State Recreation Area. The Santa Ana River area contains trails as well.

Points of Interest

Expedition Campsites
  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Expedition Camp #54
    The expedition's Christmas Eve stop was at the "Fig Tree Spring" in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. A marker commemorates the birth of Salvador Ygnacio Linares on that night. Motorized vehicles are prohibited in this area of the park, but hikers can reach the area from the town of Anza, or from the south (San Diego County). Maps are available at the visitor center.
  • Puerto de San Carlos (San Carlos Pass) - Expedition Camp #55
    On December 26, 1775, Font writes " once I noted the change in the landscape, for now we saw some scrub live oaks and other small trees...This place has a spring of water and a small arroyo nearby, with plentiful and good grass." The pass is in Terwilliger Valley at the upper end of Coyote Canyon about seven miles southeast of the town of Anza. The area of the camp is now on a privately owned ranch, but can be accessed by hikers from the Pacific Crest Trail. In the nearby town of Anza, interpretive exhibits are found at the Hamilton Schools and Library complex (57550 Mitchell Road).
  • San Bernardino National Forest - Expedition Camp #56 and #57
    A broad, bowl-shaped valley between Cahuilla Mountain and Bautista Canyon, the area of Camp #56 at Tripp Flats can be viewed from the road. Take Cary Rd. north off Highway 371 outside of Anza. This joins Tripp Flats Rd. which then ends at Bautista Canyon Road. Most of the latter road is within the San Bernardino National Forest. Eight miles of it are unpaved and allow one to experience rare well- preserved chaparral and riparian landscapes on the historic route.
  • San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Lake Perris - Expedition Camp #58
    With the San Jacinto mountains at their right, the expedition traveled north and camped near a lake that Anza had named in 1774 after his supporter, Viceroy Bucareli. On December 30, 1775, Father Font noted "large white flocks" of geese. Today's Bernasconi Pass (along the Ramona Expressway) was used by the expedition to travel from their camp to the Alessandro Valley south of Riverside. Today, one can visit the Lake Perris State Recreation Area and the nearby San Jacinto Wildlife Area. An Anza trail marker is found at the southern end of the lake.
  • Santa Ana River Crossing - Expedition Camp #59
    Both Anza expeditions crossed the river here, and it was the New Year's Eve campsite for the 1775-76 expedition. Riverside County Regional Parks offers two Anza-related sites. The Camp #59 and river crossing sites are both within the Martha McLean/Anza Narrows Park (5759 Jurupa Ave.) in Riverside. At their Jensen-Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum (4307 Briggs St. off Rubidoux Blvd.), living history programs describe how Anza expedition descendants lived.

Additional Resources

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - tel.: 760-767-5311
    200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
  • Hamilton Schools - tel.: 909-763-1840
    57550 Mitchell Road, Town of Anza, CA 92539
  • Lake Perris State Recreation Area - tel.: 951-940-5603
    17801 Lake Perris Drive Perris, CA 92571
  • Martha McLean/Anza Narrows Park, Riverside County Regional Parks - tel.: 951-683-1653
    5759 Jurupa Ave., Riverside CA 92506
  • Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail Association - tel.: 916-349-2109
    5325 Elkhorn Blvd., PMB #256 Sacramento, CA 95842
  • San Bernardino National Forest, Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument - tel.: 760-862-9984
    51-500 Highway 74, Palm Desert, CA 92260
  • San Jacinto Wildlife Area California Dept. of Fish and Game - tel.: 909-597-9823
    1812 9th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814

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