Following the Anza Trail - Tucson to Casa Grande Pt 3


Tucson to Casa Grande

Sprawled across the high desert valley and surrounded by four mountain ranges, Tucson is the second largest city in Arizona. Known as ‘The Old Pueblo’, the area is known for its rich southwest history, diverse scenery, and dedication to the arts. The main Tucson site on the Anza expedition is Saguaro National Park. This part of the route takes you west towards San Diego, on and off of I-10, to I-8.

7. Saguaro National Park
Featuring the iconic giant Saguaro cactus, the largest cactus in North America, Saguaro National Park has two sections that are about 30 miles apart. The Anza expedition traveled through what is now known as the Tucson Mountain District, the western section of the park. A protected environment, one can really imagine what it must have been like to travel through this area on the expedition.  A trip to Signal Hill Picnic Area offers the chance to view hundreds of ancient petroglyphs, and the Visitors Center has some informative exhibits and area information.
2700 N. Kinney Road,
Tucson, Arizona 85743.
Tel: (520) 733-5100 or visit

8. Ironwood Forest National Monument
Home to a variety of native Sonoran desert flora and fauna, this 129,000-acre natural area features camping, hiking, horseback riding, biking, wildlife and bird watching, spring wildflower viewing, fossil and geologicical sightseeing, historic and archaeological sites. This desert monument is located west of Tucson and is accessed off of I-10 in the town Marana, where you follow the Anza Trail auto tour west along Silver Bell Road. Visit

9. Picacho Peak Arizona State Park
On October 29,1775, Father Font described that the expedition camped at a place “a little beyond a picacho or peak which the Indians called Tacca.” Through the years, Picacho Peak was used as a landmark by Father Kino and the Mormon Battalion. Today, Picacho Peak State Park is located a little west of Anza’s camp. It’s a beautiful hiking, camping, and picnic destination with wildflowers in spring. There’s a LEED certified visitors center with exhibits and a gift shop.
Exit 219 off Interstate 10,
Picacho, Arizona 85241.
Tel: (520) 466-3183 or visit

10. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
Located in Coolidge, about an hour east of Tucson and 35 minutes from Picacho Peak, Casa Grande Ruins National Monument protects the ruins of the “Great House”, that represents an ancient Sonoran desert people’s farming community. Father Eusebio Kino was the first European to see and document the site in 1694. In fact, he was the one who named the site Casa Grande. In 1775, Juan Bautista de Anza documented Casa Grande, when the expedition stopped and camped about 5 miles northwest from the site. Anza and Father Font visited the ruins to check Father Kino’s prior descriptions and measurements. The ruins were the first archaeological preserve in America.
1100 W. Ruins Drive,
Coolidge, Arizona 85128.
Tel: (520) 723-3172 or visit

Following the Anza Trail Pt 1
Tubac to Tucson Pt 2
Tucson to Casa Grande Pt 3 (this page)
Gila Bend to Yuma Pt 4
Yuma to Borrego Springs Pt 5 

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