List of Spanish missions in California

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The horse and mule trail known as El Camino Real as of 1821 and the locations of the 21 Franciscan missions in Alta California

Franciscan priests established 21 missions between 1769 and 1833 in Alta California, accompanied by military outposts. Their goal was to spread Christianity among the local Native Americans.

To facilitate overland travel, the mission settlements were situated approximately 30 miles (48 kilometers) apart, about one day's journey on horseback, or three days on foot. The entire trail eventually became a 600-mile (966-kilometer) long "California Mission Trail." Rev. Lasuén successfully argued that filling in the empty spaces along El Camino Real with additional outposts would provide much-needed rest stops where travelers could take lodging in relative safety and comfort.[1]:132[2]:152 Heavy freight movement was practical only via water. Tradition has it that the padres sprinkled mustard seeds along the trail to mark it with bright yellow flowers.[3]:79[4]:260

Today a growing number of people, calling themselves California Mission Walkers, hike the mission trail route, usually in segments between the missions.[5] Walking the trail is a way to connect with the history of the missions. For some it represents a spiritual pilgrimage, inspired by Jesuit priest Richard Roos' 1985 book, Christwalk.[6] The loosely organized group is attempting to formalize the route and establish markers, similar to the 330-mile (530 km) El Camino de Santiago, in Spain.

Missions and outposts[edit]


List of missions in geographical order, north to south
Name Date Location Image Current use / Notes
Mission San Francisco Solano 1823 Sonoma
38°17′38.4432″N 122°27′20.8116″W / 38.294012000°N 122.455781000°W / 38.294012000; -122.455781000
Mission San Francisco Solano.jpg Museum; originally planned as an asistencia to Mission San Rafael Arcángel
Mission San Rafael Arcángel 1817 San Rafael
37°58′27.5988″N 122°31′40.476″W / 37.974333000°N 122.52791000°W / 37.974333000; -122.52791000
Saint Raphael Church San Rafael CA.jpg Chapel / museum; originally planned as an asistencia to Mission San Francisco de Asís
Mission San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) 1776 San Francisco
37°45′51.8″N 122°25′37.3″W / 37.764389°N 122.427028°W / 37.764389; -122.427028
San Francisco de Asis--Mission Dolores.JPG Parish church
Mission San José 1797 Fremont
37°31′58″N 121°55′10″W / 37.53278°N 121.91944°W / 37.53278; -121.91944
Mission San Jose April 2011 001.jpg Chapel / museum
Mission Santa Clara de Asís 1777 Santa Clara
37°20′57.37″N 121°56′29.76″W / 37.3492694°N 121.9416000°W / 37.3492694; -121.9416000
Mission Santa Clara.jpg Parish church / university chapel
Mission Santa Cruz 1791 Santa Cruz
36°58′41.2206″N 122°1′45.8394″W / 36.978116833°N 122.029399833°W / 36.978116833; -122.029399833
MissionSantaCruzCalifornia.jpg Chapel / museum
Mission San Juan Bautista 1797 San Juan Bautista
36°50′42.3″N 121°32′9.2″W / 36.845083°N 121.535889°W / 36.845083; -121.535889
Mission San Juan Bautista.jpg Parish church
Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo 1770 Carmel
36°32′33.6258″N 121°55′11.0496″W / 36.542673833°N 121.919736000°W / 36.542673833; -121.919736000
MissionCarmelSEGL2.jpg Parish church
Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad 1791 Soledad
36°24′16.6278″N 121°21′20.9046″W / 36.404618833°N 121.355806833°W / 36.404618833; -121.355806833
Nuestra Senora del la Soledad chapel.JPG Chapel / museum
Mission San Antonio de Padua 1771 near Jolon
36°00′54″N 121°15′00″W / 36.01500°N 121.25000°W / 36.01500; -121.25000
Mission San Antonio de Padua modern.jpg Parish church
Mission San Miguel Arcángel 1797 San Miguel
35°44′41″N 120°41′53″W / 35.74472°N 120.69806°W / 35.74472; -120.69806
MissionSanMiguelArches.JPG Parish church
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa 1772 San Luis Obispo
35°16′50.5344″N 120°39′52.3506″W / 35.280704000°N 120.664541833°W / 35.280704000; -120.664541833
MissionSanLuisEntrance.jpg Parish church / museum
Mission La Purísima Concepción 1787 Lompoc
34°40′13.692″N 120°25′14.2206″W / 34.67047000°N 120.420616833°W / 34.67047000; -120.420616833
La Purisima.jpg Museum
Mission Santa Inés 1804 Solvang
34°35′40.1604″N 120°08′11.7702″W / 34.594489000°N 120.136602833°W / 34.594489000; -120.136602833
Mission StInes.jpg Parish church / museum
Mission Santa Barbara 1786 Santa Barbara
34°26′18″N 119°42′50.1″W / 34.43833°N 119.713917°W / 34.43833; -119.713917
Mission Santa Barbara01.jpg Parish church
Mission San Buenaventura 1782 Ventura
34°16′52″N 119°17′53″W / 34.28111°N 119.29806°W / 34.28111; -119.29806
Mission San Buenaventura.jpg Parish church / museum
Mission San Fernando Rey de España 1797 Los Angeles
34°16′23.16″N 118°27′40.32″W / 34.2731000°N 118.4612000°W / 34.2731000; -118.4612000
MSF 033.jpg Chapel / museum
Mission San Gabriel 1771 San Gabriel
34°5′50.59″N 118°6′22.68″W / 34.0973861°N 118.1063000°W / 34.0973861; -118.1063000
Mission San Gabriel 4-15-05 6611.JPG Chapel / museum
Mission San Juan Capistrano 1776 San Juan Capistrano
33°30′10″N 117°39′46″W / 33.50278°N 117.66278°W / 33.50278; -117.66278
Basilica San Juan Capistrano 1987.jpg Chapel / museum
Mission San Luis Rey de Francia 1798 Oceanside
33°13′57.2082″N 117°19′12.6336″W / 33.232557833°N 117.320176000°W / 33.232557833; -117.320176000
San Luis Rey de Francia.jpg Parish church / museum / retreat center
Mission San Diego de Alcalá 1769 San Diego
32°47′4″N 117°6′23″W / 32.78444°N 117.10639°W / 32.78444; -117.10639
San-diego-mission-church.JPG Parish church


Asistencias were branch missions that allowed the priests to extend their reach into the native population at a modest cost.

List of Asistencias in geographical order, north to south
Name Date Location Image Current use / Notes
Mission Dolores Asistencia 1794 San Mateo [7]
San Pedro y San Pablo Asistencia 1786 Pacifica
37°35′14″N 122°29′36″W / 37.58722°N 122.49333°W / 37.58722; -122.49333
SanPabloYSanPedro.png Museum
Santa Margarita de Cortona Asistencia 1787 Santa Margarita
=35°24′2″N 120°36′44″W / 35.40056°N 120.61222°W / 35.40056; -120.61222
Santa Margarita Asistencia 1881 painting.jpg Unknown
Nuestra Señora Reina de los Angeles Asistencia 1784 Los Angeles
34°03′26″N 118°14′23″W / 34.0572°N 118.2396°W / 34.0572; -118.2396
Santa Ysabel Asistencia 1818 Santa Ysabel
33°7′49″N 116°40′41″W / 33.13028°N 116.67806°W / 33.13028; -116.67806
Santa Ysabel Asistencia church circa 1875.jpg Chapel / museum
San Antonio de Pala Asistencia (Pala Mission) 1816 Pala Indian Reservation
33°21′40″N 117°04′45″W / 33.36111°N 117.07917°W / 33.36111; -117.07917
Mission San Antonio de Pala - 01.JPG Parish church / museum


An estancia or estância was a Spanish, Brazilian, or Portuguese term describing private landholdings.

List of Estancias in geographical order, north to south
Name Date Location Image Current use / Notes
San Bernardino de Sena Estancia 1819 Redlands
34°02′40″N 117°13′15″W / 34.04444°N 117.22083°W / 34.04444; -117.22083
San Bernardino Asistencia.jpg Museum
Santa Ana Estancia (Costa Mesa Estancia) 1817 Costa Mesa
33°40′23″N 117°56′13″W / 33.67306°N 117.93694°W / 33.67306; -117.93694
Las Flores Estancia (Las Flores Asistencia) 1823 Camp Pendleton
33°17′59.81″N 117°27′39.84″W / 33.2999472°N 117.4610667°W / 33.2999472; -117.4610667
San Pedro Chapel.jpg Boy Scout Camp


Presidios in chronological order:


  1. ^ Yenne, Bill (2004). The Missions of California. Advantage Publishers Group, San Diego, California. ISBN 1-59223-319-8.
  2. ^ Bennett, John E. (January 1897a). "Should the California Missions Be Preserved? – Part I". Overland Monthly. XXIX (169): 9–24.
  3. ^ Markham, Edwin (1914). California the Wonderful: Her Romantic History, Her Picturesque People, Her Wild Shores... Hearst's International Library Company, Inc., New York.
  4. ^ Riesenberg, Felix (1962). The Golden Road: The Story of California's Spanish Mission Trail. McGraw-Hill, New York. ISBN 0-07-052740-7.
  5. ^ "El Camino Real's California Mission Walkers". California Mission Guide. 2014.
  6. ^ Roos, Fr. Richard (1985). "Christwalk". Paulist Press. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "San Mateo asistencia (hospice) and granary". San Mateo Daily journal. 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2015-06-17.

External links[edit]