Part 2 From Chihuahua City
by Jay W. Sharp
Today, you can drive virtually the entire 550-mile length of the corridor of the Chihuahua Trail, from Chihuahua City to Santa Fe, exploring as you go the ancient pathway of nomads, traders, armies, colonists, missionaries, migrants, refugees and entrepreneurs. Along the route, you will experience a hard, but dramatic, landscape of desert basins and mountain ranges. You will find populous communities with historic buildings, museums, plazas and monuments. You can visit isolated ruins of prehistoric and historic peoples, fields of battle, and ancient artworks on stone. You will discover that the Chihuahua Trail, thousands of years old, still remains vibrantly alive. In the United States, the Chihuahua Trail the northernmost segment of the famed Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, colonial Spain’s Royal Road of the Interior has been designated a National Historic Trail.
From Chihuahua City to The Pass
If you travel the full length of the trail from south to north, you will begin your journey in the heart of Chihuahua City, before the splendid San Francisco Cathedral, at the historic Plaza de Armas.
The Spaniards founded the city early in the 18th century on the banks of the Rio Chuviscar, in a geological province with rich deposits of silver. They employed conscripted Indian labor to burrow into the surrounding mountains, producing labyrinthine mines to reach the mineral wealth. They turned the soils and grasslands of the valleys into fields for their crops and pastures for their livestock. They established a military post to protect the region and the trade routes from pillage by Apache raiding parties.
Three silver barons all fugitives from justice paid for the construction of the grand San Francisco Cathedral in return for pardons for their crimes and forgiveness from the Church, according to an 1867 Harper’s New Monthly Magazine article by Lew Wallace, future governor of New Mexico Territory and author of Ben Hur. Built between the early 18th and early 19th centuries, the cathedral has an exterior "covered with fine carving and statues," said Frank S. Edwards, in his chronicle, A Campaign in New Mexico With Colonel Doniphan. "The front has three tiers of pillars, one above another, with figures of Christ and the twelve Apostles in different niches the size of life. [It has] two steeples, which are square and composed of pillars fancifully carved… …the interior fully realized my expectations. It is lighted only from the dome… Around the walls are six large shrines reaching to the ceiling…"
Around and near the Plaza de Armas, national and local government institutions built administrative buildings. Local entrepreneurs established mercantile stores, freight service businesses, inns and taverns. The faithful staged ritualized processions to observe the holy days of the Church. The authorities displayed Apaches’ scalps like banners, heralding triumphs of professional bounty hunters and Indian allies in battles with the vengeful raiders.
On occasion, the residents made the heart of the city a stage for grand celebrations of victories over the marauders. In one of several trips to Chihuahua City chronicled in his book, A Texas Pioneer, August Santleben, a merchant and trader, said that a "procession entered the city about ten o’clock in the morning, and a brass band in front discoursed appropriate music. The warriors [probably ancestors of Indian peoples you will see today in the Plaza de Armas] followed on horseback, in their war-paint and decked out in all their finery, about fifteen of whom had long poles to which were secured the scalps of their victims [likely the Apaches] killed in battle… The women and children of the tribe came next, on horses, also in single file… I was greatly impressed by the significance of the occasion, which had the appearance of a great festival…"
After you have seen the surrounding landscape, you will understand how travelers who had crossed the sandy and sparsely vegetated desert basins and eluded the Apaches and other raiders saw Chihuahua City as a welcome refuge. Wallace, approaching the town from the south, said, "…after so many days of drouth [sic], heat, and dust, and so many nights spent in unsuccessful struggles with fleas and vermin; after so many leagues, pistol/or carbine in hand; after a watch so constant against robbers, seeking valuables, and Apaches, hungering for scalps… …it was with relief and positive happiness we at last passed through the shadow of the Sierra Grande, and caught the first glimpse, leagues away, of the tall spires of the cathedral of Chihuahua. There, we thought, are rest and comfort… …there is Paradise."
As you explore Chihuahua City and its surprisingly rich and engaging history, you will find, only a short walk southeast from the Plaza de Armas, the State Government Palace. Along the walls of the palace courtyard, beneath arched portals, murals painted by Mexican artist Aaron Pina Mora tell the story of the history of the state, and the Altar de la Patria the Altar of the Motherland memorializes the site where, on July 11, 1811, a firing squad executed Father Miguel Hidalgo, the revolutionary parish priest who inspired Mexico’s revolt against Spanish rule. At the nearby Federal Palace, you can visit the small, severe and moving stone cell where the authorities held Hidalgo prisoner for more than three months before they extinguished his life. The Spanish decapitated the body. They sent the head to Guanajuato, where they hung it in a cage at the corner of a public building for some 10 years as a grim warning to would-be revolutionaries. Mexicans now honor Hidalgo as the father of their country.
A few blocks southwest of the Plaza de Armas, you come to the ruins of the landmark 18th and 19th century aqueduct, which once carried water to the homes and gardens of Chihuahua City. It recalls the ruins of a Roman aqueduct which once carried water to the homes and gardens of Merida, in the arid Extremadura region of western Spain.
A few blocks from Chihuahua City’s aqueduct, you can visit the elegant Quinta Gameros University Cultural Center, an early 20th century French-chateau-style mansion which speaks to the wealth and power derived from silver and commerce. Today, it serves as a showcase for artifacts of Chihuahua’s famed Casas Grandes pueblo culture (A. D. 1250 to 1450), displays of furniture in the art nouveau and "Lady Fox" styles, and spaces for traveling exhibits from across Mexico.
A short car ride from the plaza, you will come upon the Museum of the Mexican Revolution, once the residence of generalisimo and folk hero Francisco "Pancho" Villa, "The Centaur of the North," who commanded the rebel Army of the North during the bloody Mexican civil war of 1910 through 1920. There you will find, not only fine exhibits of artifacts from the war and Pancho Villa’s life, but also the black, bullet-riddled Dodge sedan in which the generalisimo was riding when assassins shot him to death at an intersection in Parral on July 20, 1923.
If you choose to drive a few miles southeast of Chihuahua City, you can explore the village of Santa Eulalia, at the center of one of the state’s Spanish colonial silver mining districts. You can walk the old cobblestone streets, see a charming Spanish colonial-era mission church, and visit the mining museum. You will also be able to buy striking crystalline stones which the locals have teased from the old Spanish mines which honeycomb the nearby mountains. With luck, an aging gentleman who speaks flawless Castillian Spanish will conduct you on a tour of the mission, and a charming local street urchin will present you with a rose he has picked, surreptitiously, from the priest’s garden beside the mission. (Both of those things happened to my wife and me when we last visited Santa Eulalia.)
Beginning your journey northward, up the Chihuahua Trail, you will follow Mexico’s excellent Federal Highway 45 for about 220 miles to The Pass, that famous Rio Grande ford and mountain gateway which gave rise to today’s teeming cities of Juarez and El Paso. En route you will cross the Sacramento River not far from the battlefield where Colonel Alexander William Doniphan’s troops defeated a Mexican force during the Mexican War. You will pass near Laguna Encinillas and Laguna Patos, two shallow desert playa lakes which received water from springs and intermittent streams and which provided water (virtually undrinkable when the lakes were low) for Chihuahua Trail travelers. You will pass through the Medanos de Samalayuca, the desiccated remnant of a lake bottom from the Ice Ages and now one of the largest drifting sand dune fields in North America. The towering dunes raised a formidable barrier to wagon caravans, but they harbored prehistoric people, who left fragments of clay vessels and images on stone as tenuous clues to their life stories. While Chihuahua City has memorialized its history, Mexican authorities have given scant attention to the historic value of the trail northward to The Pass. You would need a guide with local knowledge to direct you to the Doniphan battlefield fortifications, the playa lakes and the Samalayuca archaeological sites.
About 30 miles north of the Samalayuca sands area, you will arrive at the Juarez/El Paso metropolitan area and The Pass.
In Juarez, a seething and impoverished city with a population of roughly 1.5 million, you will find quiet sanctuary at the Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe Mission church, located on the west side of the central plaza. Founded in the 1660’s by Fray Garcia de San Francisco to serve the Manso and Sumas Indians, the mission drew into its fold the Spanish and Indian refugees from Northern New Mexico’s bloody Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Today, the chapel, its original beams and walls intact, still offers solace to the faithful. In this refuge of quietness in the midst of dense traffic and chaos, they come to offer prayers before the alter. Within this oldest surviving church between Chihuahua City and Santa Fe, they fasten milagro (miracle) pins to the garments of icons of saints, symbolizing their hopes and dreams for spiritual aid and cures.
On the El Paso side of the Rio Grande, you can follow the Mission Trail downstream and visit three other churches in the suburban communities of Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario which had roots in Spanish colonial times. The Franciscans founded Ysleta and Socorro churches to serve the Puebloan Indians entrained with the Spanish refugees from the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. They founded the San Elizario church during the next century to serve a military garrison charged with protecting the residents of the local communities and the travelers on the Chihuahua Trail. Parishioners have rebuilt each of the three churches several times in the wake of floods, fires and dilapidation over the centuries, always retaining the sense of Hispanic warmth, grace and charm.
In addition to El Paso’s Mission Trail, you can visit the actual location of The Pass, where the trail crossed the Rio Grande to proceed northward through the mountain gateway and up the river’s left bank. Unfortunately, the ford, one of the most historic sites on the entire Chihuahua Trail, lies in the midst of international neglect and decay, in an area where the U. S. Border Patrol struggles to throttle illegal drug traffic. Marked only by a few ill-kept monuments, it served as the crossing for the Chihuahua Trail from prehistoric times. It gave rise to Simeon Hart’s flour mill (now a restaurant), a temporary Fort Bliss location (now dilapidated tenement housing) and a railroad depot (now vanished) in the second half of the 19th century. You will find the site in the Rio Grande’s bend from south to southeast, in the southwest corner of El Paso, just off Doniphan Drive, a street named in honor of Colonel Doniphan of the Mexican War campaign into Chihuahua.
From The Pass to Santa Fe
Continuing your journey up the Chihuahua Trail, you will follow Interstate Highway 10 for about 45 miles from El Paso to Las Cruces and IH25 for about 285 miles from Las Cruces to Santa Fe. En route to Las Cruces, you will follow the Rio Grande valley on your left and pass the Franklin and Organ mountain ranges on your right.
Just west of IH 10 and Las Cruces, you will find the old Hispanic community of Mesilla, where the territorial-style plaza and historic district have warranted recognition both as a National Historic Landmark and a State Monument as a result of events from the middle to near the end of the 19th century. Mexican and United States merchant caravans passed east of the village, traveling on the Chihuahua Trail. U. S. troops marching southward passed Mesilla to do battle with Mexican forces at El Brazito on the eastern escarpment of the Rio Grande and again at the site on the banks of Chihuahua’s Rio Sacramento. U. S. officials negotiated the purchase from Mexico of southwestern New Mexico and southern Arizona at Mesilla, giving the Southwest its current geographic boundaries. John Butterfield brought his stage line through Mesilla, operating out of quarters at the southeast and southwest corners of the plaza. Confederate troops marched into Mesilla, camped just south of the plaza, and fought a skirmish with Union Forces. Billy the Kid, the famed young outlaw, faced trial, conviction and imprisonment in a courtroom and jail on the southeast corner of the plaza, across the street from the old Butterfield offices. Roy Bean, who would become Texas’ self-appointed "Law West of the Pecos" at Langtry, robbed the Mesilla town safe and, with consummate good judgment, fled the country. Carlota Maese, a haughty socialite, caught her son, Armando, and his lover, a servant girl named Inez, in a liaison and, in a mad rage, killed them both in a bedroom of her elegant home on the east side of the Plaza. Mesilla stalwart Colonel A. J. Fountain and his eight-year-old son died at the hands of assassins, the bodies vanishing in the desert.
Today, you can wander around Mesilla’s plaza and historic district and discover good tales from the old days. You can shop and dine elbow to elbow with the ghosts and poltergeists who emerged from the community’s turbulent and often violent past. You can wander through Mesilla’s lovely old cemetery, and with good luck, you will see La Llorona, the ubiquitous weeping ghost of an impoverished woman who drowned her children after her wealthy lover abandoned her. You can visit Mesilla’s San Albino church, founded on the north side of the plaza in 1855. With luck and timing, you can join in joyful and colorful festivals of Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) and Diez y Seiz de Septiembre (16th of September) on the plaza. In early November, you can share in the old Mexican celebration called "Dias de los Muertos," or the "Days of the Dead," when, for a dollar, you can purchase the privilege of dancing with "Death." On Christmas Eve, in the midst of the soft yellow light cast by traditional luminarios, you can sing carols with the crowd which gathers before the plaza gazebo in the chill of early evening.
Some 12 miles north of the Las Cruces and two miles west of IH 25, you come to the ruins of Fort Selden, built just after the Civil war, garrisoned by black soldiers the famed "Buffalo Soldiers" of the 125th Infantry, and commanded by the father of the future General of the Armies, Douglas MacArthur.
About 15 miles north of Fort Selden, IH 25 departs from the corridor of the Chihuahua Trail at the southern end of the once-notorious, 90-mile-long Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead) and traces a long westward-bending arc around the Caballo and Fra Cristobal mountain ranges and the Caballo and Elephant Butte lakes before it rejoins the corridor at the northern end of the Jornada.
You can, if you like, follow roughly half of the Jornada del Muerto, provided you’re willing to negotiate a gravel road which may turn muddy in spots after a rain. From IH 25, you would take the Upham Exit, just west of the community of Rincon, and proceed northward along a poorly marked route labeled, respectively, E71, E70 and A13 to the isolated village of Engle, where you would turn west on a two-lane paved road (Highway 51) for the return to IH 25. About eight miles north of the Upham Exit, you will pass, on your right, a small range of hills called Point of Rocks. In an arroyo near here, an advance guard of conquistador Juan de Onate’s colonizing expedition found life-saving puddles of water in 1598. From the peaks of the hills, Mescalero and Chiricahua Apache raiders would keep watch over the trail north and south for miles, then mount attacks on passing caravans. If you are willing to climb to the top of the westernmost peak, you will find still in place a rock ring presumably used by the Apaches for an observation post and fortification. Approximately 22 miles farther north, just west of the dirt road, you will pass, on your left, a desert playa lake, usually powder dry, called the Laguna del Muerto, or the Lake of Death, where caravans camped and sometimes suffered Apache attacks. Another mile north, you come to Engle, where Eugene Manlove Rhodes, a famous early 20th century novelist and short-story writer, once worked as a cowboy. He wrote the classic Paso por Aqui, (or, I Passed This Way), published serially in the Saturday Evening Post in 1926. From Engle, Highway 51 takes you through the pass between the Caballo and Fra Cristobal range, across the Elephant Butte Dam to IH 25.
Near the area where IH 25 begins to reconverge with the Chihuahua Trail corridor at the north end of the Jornada del Muerto, you will find the ruins of the army post Fort Craig, built in 1854 on the west bank of the Rio Grande. It lies across the river from the lava-capped Mesa Contadero, where Spanish herdsmen once climbed up to count the number of their sheep which had survived the long hard march north across the Jornada. On a cold day in February, 1862, Fort Craig’s Union commander, Colonel Edward R. S. Canby, sent his troops including the fabled Kit Carson and his 1st Regiment of New Mexico Volunteers to do battle with Confederate General Henry H. Sibley’s brigade at Valverde, two or three miles north of Mesa Contadero. At the end of a bloody day, when the crash of cannon and crack of musket had stilled, Canby’s force of 3800 had suffered 271casualties. One hundred and eleven died. One hundred and sixty lay wounded. Two hundred and four went missing. Sibley’s brigade of 2560 suffered two hundred 229 casualties, including 111 dead or mortally injured and 160 wounded. One fell captive to Canby’s soldiers. The Confederates, according to John Taylor in Bloody Valverde, won the battle but failed to capture the fort and badly needed supplies.
A few miles north of Fort Craig, Mesa Contadero and Valverde, you come to the Bosque del Apache, a placid marsh and national wildlife refuge which issues a siren call to migratory birds every fall. If you arrive in November, when the Friends of the Bosque del Apache hosts its yearly Festival of the Cranes, you can participate in a celebration of the annual pageant of wildlife, including great flights of snow geese and sandhill cranes which rise from the marsh in the early morning and return to it in the late afternoon.
As you proceed northward up the Chihuahua Trail, on IH 25 toward Albuquerque, you will drive by Rio Grande bottomlands which have been farmed for centuries, first by Puebloan peoples, then by European descendants. About 12 miles before you reach Albuquerque, you will pass near the Isleta Pueblo, where some of the Native American residents joined the long column of Spaniards in retreat from the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. It was they who became the nucleus of the Ysleta Pueblo near El Paso. An old story holds that the spirit of the famous Spanish mystic nun, Nuestra Senora Maria de Jesus de Agreda, the "Lady in Blue," visited the mission church at Isleta early in the 17th century, participating in a mass.
In Albuquerque, which began as a Spanish colonial farming community and military outpost early in the 18th century, you can wander through the Old Town historic district and the San Felipe de Neri parish church, and you can visit the Albuquerque museums of art and natural science, just east of the Old Town plaza. At the western margin of Albuquerque, across the Rio Grande, on the West Mesa Escarpment overlooking the Chihuahua Trail, you will discover the Petroglyph National Monument, an immense site of some 15,000 to 25,000 images scribed on stone. The figures are the product of hunting and gathering peoples of five millennia ago to travelers and farmers of historic times. Some archaeologists believe that shamans created many of the rock art images found across the Southwest, regarding the figures as mystic gateways to the spirit world.
North of Albuquerque and just west of IH 25, you will pass the old community of Bernalillo and the ruins of a pueblo, Kuaua, now the Coronado State Monument. It lies within the old Puebloan province of Tiguex, where Coronado and his expedition spent the winters of 1540/1541 and 1541/1542. At the monument, you will not only see the famous Puebloan murals from the walls of ceremonial chambers, you can try on replicas of a Spanish conquistador helmet and breastplate.
Just north of Bernalillo and the monument, on IH 25, you will veer away from the Rio Grande and begin the ascent from the desert to the foothills of the Southern Rockies and Santa Fe, the final leg of the Chihuahua Trail corridor. En route, you can visit the living history museum El Rancho De Los Golandrinas, a reconstructed Spanish colonial settlement that was once the last stop on the Chihuahua Trail before you reach Santa Fe. From there, you can drive to Santa Fe in 15 minutes, a trip which would have taken a long full day in a loaded wagon drawn by eight mules.
"Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico, is the only town of any importance in the province…" Josiah Gregg said in his The Commerce of the Prairies, first published in 1844. "Like most of the towns in this section of country, it occupies the site of an ancient Pueblo or Indian village, whose race has been extinct for a great many years. Its situation is twelve or fifteen miles east of the Rio del Norte, at the western base of a snow-clad mountain, upon a beautiful stream of small mill-power size, which ripples down in icy cascades and joins the river some twenty miles to the southwestward."
In the Plaza, in the heart of Santa Fe, across the street from the Governor’s Palace, you can reflect on four centuries of Southwestern history.
Here, the Spanish, imbued with the spirit of that religious horror known as the Inquisition, hung and beat Puebloan men they accused of forsaking Christianity for witchcraft. They fought Puebloan warriors who rebelled against Spanish rule. En masse, they fled Puebloan vengeance but returned triumphantly to the Plaza a dozen years later. Every two to four years, they welcomed caravans which traveled up the trail from Mexico City, delivering new government officials, Franciscan missionaries, colonists, supplies, merchandise, livestock, precious letters and hope and which departed with retiring officials, reassigned missionaries, disillusioned colonists, local produce, buffalo hides and frontier news. During the week, on the Plaza, they bartered the products of their fields, pastures and workshops. During religious holidays, they celebrated with processions and festivals.
After 1821, the people of Santa Fe began to think of themselves as Mexicans, not as Spaniards, reflecting their allegiance to a land which had won its independence and its own identity after more than a decade of bloody rebellion. In the Plaza, the Mexicans fought a Ute war party. They welcomed caravans which traveled up the Chihuahua Trail and, now, across the Santa Fe Trail, loaded with merchandise. During the week, they set up their booths at the Plaza and hawked their goods. During religious holidays, they celebrated with processions and festivals. On Sunday evenings, after sunset, a band would assemble to play in the center of the Plaza. In a ritual called "paseo dominical," young women, clothed in their finest dresses and carefully watched over by discreet chaperones, began to circle the Plaza in a casual promenade. Young men, dressed in their finest clothes, began to circle the Plaza slowly in the opposite direction. As the music rippled across the Plaza, the young people exchanged flirtatious remarks, "piropos." Sometimes they began to talk. Sometimes they stole away from the paseo dominical for a glass of wine at a nearby café (carefully watched over by discreet chaperones).
After 1848, the people of Santa Fe had to begin thinking of themselves as citizens of the United States, not of Mexico, for their brawny young neighbor from the east had forcibly asserted control over their land and their lives. They still welcomed caravans and continued their traditions, but now against a backdrop of increased tumult, conflict and change. They saw Sibley’s Confederate forces replace the Stars and Stripes with the Stars and Bars over the Plaza in March of 1862. They watched Union forces replace the Stars and Bars with the Stars and Stripes less than a month later. In the 1880’s they welcomed the last of the wagon caravans at the Plaza. One era passed. A new one began. The railroad had come.
In the Plaza, at the end of your journey over the Chihuahua Trail, you can still experience Santa Fe’s Spanish and Indian heritage, particularly at the time of special celebrations. In July, at the annual Spanish Market, more than 300 artists and craftsmen display their work throughout the Plaza, while mariachis, with traditions rooted in Hispanic and Indian Mexico, fill the air with their joyous music. In August, at the annual Indian Market, more than a thousand artists from some 100 tribes nationwide exhibit their work for 100,000 visitors while Native American dancers and musicians perform in the Plaza. In September, in an event much like the riotous carnivals in cities of Spain, Santa Fe’s citizens burn Zozobra, a huge animated, growling marionette which represents "Old Man Gloom," then they converge on the Plaza to celebrate the victory of joy over despair with music, dance and feasting deep into the night.
Across the street from the north side of the Plaza, you can visit the Governor’s Palace, a designated National Historic Landmark and American Treasure. It served as a seat for governments from 1610 to 1912 and a refuge for beleaguered Spaniards during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt. Now a museum, it holds exhibits of the history of New Mexico. Its front portal shelters Puebloan artisans who gather there daily to market their crafts.
You will find Santa Fe’s charm in its oldest streets and adobe buildings and its magic in its chapels. On Canyon Road, a few blocks southeast of the Plaza, centuries-old single-story adobe buildings which once lay beside a dirt donkey path and served as humble farm homes now house world class art galleries and upscale restaurants. Canyon Road is, in effect, a museum in its own right. The four-century old San Miguel mission church, a few blocks south of the Plaza, became the scene according to folk stories where an old blind man, el ciego viejo, came to pray each day at noon, an act of faith which enabled him to see clearly and prompted the tower bell to ring spontaneously during his devotions. San Miguel exhibits the bell today in the church gift shop. The 1870’s-era Loretto Chapel, located between the Plaza and the San Miguel mission, became famous for its spiral staircase, built, some believe, by St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters. The staircase appears to be a miracle of the woodworker’s art, rising on the strength of faith, for it has no central member to support its ascent from the chapel floor to the choir loft. St. Francis Cathedral, built a block east of the Plaza in the 1880’s under the inspiration and leadership of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy, rose from the foundations of two earlier churches. Its story took on the aura of legend in Willa Cather’s novel Death Comes for the Archbishop.
While Santa Fe began as a remote and dusty adobe colony on the Spanish frontier and evolved into a crossroads of trails, it would finally become defined, not only by its history, but also by its culture and art. The Institute of American Indian Arts and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture offer new dimensions and insights into the rich and evocative history of the Native Americans. The Museum of International Folk Art exhibits perhaps the world’s foremost displays of extraordinary artistry produced by ordinary people. The Museum of Fine Arts, the oldest art museum in New Mexico, displays the works of regional and international artists. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum features not only the paintings of the famous master, but also images by her equally famous husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and work by other renowned artists. As a change of pace from museums, the Santa Fe Opera, in a splendid open air theater, stages world-class performances in the evenings of summer.
A Journey Through Time
In driving the 550-mile-long corridor of the Chihuahua Trail, northward across the desert from Chihuahua City to Santa Fe, you can see the signatures of thousands of years of travelers. They left the records of their journeys recorded, not only in chronicles, but in worn pathways, sandy soils, stone surfaces, adobe walls, battlefields, distinctive architecture, painters’ canvases and the flotsam and jetsam of their passage. In retracing their steps, you will have done more than drive for 550 miles. You will have made a journey through time.
Wild and Diverse Landscape
Native Americans Trails
Coronado Expedition From Compostela to Cibola
Coronado Expedition From Cibola to Quivira Then Home
The Juan Bautista De Anza Trail
Jornada del Muerto Trail
Santa Fe Trail
The Long Walk Trail Of The Navajos
The desert route to California
Bradshaw's Desert Trail To Gold
A Soldier view of the Trails Part 1
A Soldier view of the Trails Part 2
Share this page on Facebook:
DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)
SEARCH THIS SITE
The Saguaro Video
The Saguaro often begins life in the shelter of a "nurse" tree or shrub which can provide a shaded, moister habitat for the germination of life. The Saguaro grows very slowly -- perhaps an inch a year -- but to a great height, 15 to 50 feet.
Prickly pear cactus Video
Prickly pear cactus are found in all of the deserts of the American Southwest. Most prickly pears have large spines on their stems and vary in height from less than a foot to 6 or 7 feet.
Click here to see current desert temperatures!