TABB - Old Spanish Trail Northern Route

Old Spanish Trail Northern Route / Route of Dominquez - Escalente Expedition

GPS Location: 37.273217, -107.880785

Miles from Chama: 108.80 Miles

Miles from Durango: 0.45 Miles

The Domínguez–Escalante expedition was a Spanish journey of exploration conducted in 1776 by two Franciscan priests, Atanasio Domínguez and Silvestre Vélez de Escalante. Their mission was to find an overland route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to their Roman Catholic mission in Monterey, on the coast of northern California. Domínguez, Vélez de Escalante, and Bernardo de Miera y Pacheco, acting as the expedition's cartographer, traveled with eight men from Santa Fe through many unexplored portions of the American West, including present-day western Colorado, Utah, and northern Arizona. Along part of the journey, they were aided by three indigenous guides of the Timpanogos tribe (Shoshone or Ute people).

The land was harsh and unforgiving. Hardships encountered during travel forced the group to return to Santa Fe before reaching Las Californias. Maps and documentation produced by the expedition aided future travelers. The Domínguez–Escalante route eventually became an early template for the Old Spanish Trail, a trade route from Santa Fe to Pacific Coast settlements.

“One of the great trails of the early west began in Santa Fe, ran north along the Rio Grande River, turned northwest and followed the Chama River to the vicinity of Los Ojos. The trail then crossed the Chama and the Continental Divide, passed down the Amargo River near Dulce and on to the Navajo River. It then followed the San Juans west eventually ending in Los Angeles, California. Indians, trappers, traders, '49ers, and settlers used this route which came to be called the Old Spanish Trail.”


Pagosa Country the First 50 Years, John Motter p16