The Old Spanish Trail snakes 1,200 miles over mountains, perilous deserts, and deep canyonlands of the American Southwest.
Spanish explorers began using it in the early 1600s as a route between their settlements in New Mexico and Southern California. Pack trains became common along the route during the 1800s and ferry crossings were established to successfully cross the deep Colorado River in Utah. One segment of the Old Spanish Trail veered hundreds of miles north to avoid the Grand Canyon, considered impassable.
The trail continued from there through a waterless desert before arriving at the natural springs in today’s Las Vegas, Nevada. The trail then crossed the Mojave desert into Southern California, which began to provide a few more reliable sources of water. There the San Gabriel Mountains led travelers down to Mission San Gabriel and El Pueblo de Los Angeles, the final stop.
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