Visit Yuma County - Down the Gila River to the Colorado Crossing

Past Agua Caliente, the expedition continued southwest along the Gila River. At Cerro de San Pasqual (Camp #34), the expedition had their second birth. They crossed the Gila again near the Colorado river, and crossed the latter without serious incident with the help of the Yuma people and their chief, Salvador Palma. Father Garcés was carried over on the shoulders of three Yumas, two at his head and one at his feet, lying stretched out face up.

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Driving Directions for Auto Route

From Maricopa County, travel west on I-8 through Mohawk, Wellton, Ligurta, and past US federal highway 95 near the city of Yuma. From I-8, take the Yuma/Winterhaven/4th Ave. exit and go south on 4th Ave. for 1/2 mile to the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park. Travelers can see an interpretive plaque there and learn more about the Anza Trail in the area. Past Yuma, the historic route dips into Baja California, Mexico, and then turns north through the California desert to Imperial County. The auto route continues west on I-8 past Winterhaven to CA 98. To continue along this route, see Imperial County.

Hiking/Biking Ideas

Check with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regarding visits to Sears Point (near Camp #34) and Antelope Hill (near Camp #35). There are hikes at the Muggins Mountains Wilderness north of Ligurta and Camp #37. One can also check with the Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District regarding several trails along the dirt road adjacent to the Mohawk-Wellton Canal.

Points of Interest

Expedition Campsites
  • Antelope Hill - Expedition Camp #35
    Font called the site Cerro de Santa Cecilia del Metate, naming it for the grinding stones made by the Indians. It was here that a expectant mother in pain was given medicine to protect her from miscarriage. A nearby site at Antelope Hill is located about six miles east of Wellton and is a prominent geologic feature beside the Gila River. The site, partially destroyed by quarrying, contains protected American Indian petroglyphs and a grinding stone quarry important to several tribes in the area. There is an interpretive kiosk at the base of the hill.
  • Cerro de San Pasqual, Sears Point - Expedition Camps #32-#34
    Before making camp at Cerro de San Pasqual (#34) November 18, 1775, they crossed the Gila again. It was at this camp that the expedition had their second birth since leaving Tubac, a boy named Diego Pasqual Gutiérrez. They rested there until the 22nd to let the mother and child recover. In the meantime, Carlos, a leader of the Cocomaricopa, arrived with a few of his tribesmen to travel with Anza to Yuma. The exact position of some of the camps along the river is uncertain because it has varied in its course over time. Today, the Sears Point Petroglyphs are situated above the flood plain of the river. The area is protected and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
  • Along the Gila - Expedition Camps #36-#38
    Camps #36 to #38 were on the south side of the Gila River. At the first camp, a native arrived telling that the leader of the Yuma was waiting to welcome the expedition. At Camp #38, at the Gila River Pass between the Laguna and the Gila Mountains, Anza writes, "Salvador Palma, captain of the Yumas, arrived at our camp with a following of more than thirty of his people, all unarmed. As soon as he saw me he began to embrace me and to give me the most emphatic signs of joy and satisfaction at my arrival, which he told me was shared by all his tribe and all those along the river who know me."
  • Yuma Crossing - Expedition Camps #39 - #41
    Anza's Camp #39 was made after the expedition's third crossing of the Gila River. At night, they were entertained with Yuma (Quechan) and Maricopa singing and the beating of drums. With the help of Palma and his Yuma tribe, they safely crossed the Colorado River on November 30, 1775, and made Camp (#40) near its banks. They moved to Palma's village on December 3 (#41), where a shelter was being built for Fathers Garcés and Eixarch, who remained with several interpreters and servants (including Sebastián Tarabal). Prison Hill, part of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, looks out over Camps #39-#41. The Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park (201 N. 4th Ave. in Yuma) displays an interpretive exhibit for the Anza Trail overlooking the Colorado River and interprets American period artifacts.

Additional Resources

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Yuma Field Office - tel.: 928-317-3200
    2555 E. Gila Ridge Rd., Yuma, AZ 85365
  • Cocopah Indian Reservation - tel.: 928-627-1992
    County 15th & Avenue G, Somerton AZ 85350
  • Fort Yuma Quechan Nation - tel.: 760-572-0213
    P.O. Box 1899 Yuma, Arizona 85366
  • Remember that entering the U.S. or Mexico without using a port of entry is dangerous and illegal. For example, use the Port of Entry - tel.: 760-572-0089
    Andrade, 235 Andrade Road, Winterhaven, CA 92283
  • Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District - tel.: 928-785-3351
    30570 Wellton-Mohawk Drive, Wellton, AZ 85356
  • Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park - tel.: 928-783-4771
    1 Prison Hill Rd., Yuma, Arizona 85364

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