Following the Rodriquez-Chamuscado expedition of 1581 there was increased interest in the area now known as New Mexico and Texas. There was also concern for the safety of Fray Rodriquez and Fray Lopez, who had stayed in the area. In 1582 A Franciscan Priest, from Santa Barbara, Mexico, Fray Bernardino Beltran, formed an expedition to find the missionaries. His military escort was led by Antonio De Espejo, a former Santa Barbara merchant and rancher living in voluntary exile over a legal dispute with the Spanish authorities.
The expedition departed the mining outpost of Bartolome in November 1582. By the following January they had reached the El Paso area. In present New Mexico they learned that Fray Rodriquez and Fray Lopez had been killed by Indians. Fray Beltran led a small party back to Mexico, but Espejo and several companions stayed to check the Indian stories of silver mines and wealthy pueblos. On their journey the Spaniards became the first explorers in the region from the Pecos River Valley to the Junta De Los Rios, the junction of the Choncho River and the Rio Grande. The reports of their explorations further heighten the interest in the area.