Juan Bautista De Anza led two groups of Spanish explorers and settlers across this portion of the Colorado Desert from Northern Mexico to San Francisco Bay. During each tortuous passage, the Spanish camped below here in Yuha Wash. The passage in 1774, which explored and pioneered the first overland route into upper California, consisted of only a small group of soldiers and two missionaries, Father Garces and Diaz.
A second trip in 1775 brought settlers to the coast of California. Spain felt that its tenuous hold on the New World was threatened by Russian settle,nets to the North. The Spanish missions were struggling to survive and needed a reliable supply route to ensure military, political and religious success.
This expedition contained 240 people, including Captain De Anza, 38 soldiers, 15 muleteers, 136 colonists, several Indian guides, and Father Pedro Font, as chronicler. There were over 800 head of livestock, which included pack mules, horses, and cattle. The settlers became founders of what would become San Francisco.
The route discovered by De Anza was abandoned in the 1780s because of Quechan Indian hostilities. Portions of the route were used during the 1800s as part of the Gila and Overland Trails. Finally, it was also used by gold seekers and several stage lines.