California Missions Archaeology Tour

When:     March 23 – 28, 2020
Where:   San Diego, California Area

Cost:      $1,995 per person ($375 single supplement)

Photo 3: Inside Mission San Francisco de Asis, California. Photo 3: Inside Mission San Francisco de Asis, California.
Photo 1: Stunning Scenery at Mission San Juan Capistrano. Photo 1: Stunning Scenery at Mission San Juan Capistrano.

In 1542 the first European explorer in California, Juan Cabrillo, sailed into what is known today as San Diego Bay and made first contact with the local inhabitants, the Kumeyaay people. It is widely agreed among scholars that the Kumeyaay people occupied this region for at least 12,000 years. To the north lived the Luiseño people, and to the east, the Cahuilla.

In 1769, Father Junípero Serra established the first Franciscan mission in California near the ancient Kumeyaay village of Kosa’aay, known today as Old Town San Diego. Father Serra, also known as the “Founder of California,” went on to establish 9 of the 21 missions from San Diego to San Francisco.

During our tour of the San Diego area, we will take an in-depth look into some of these missions, as well as the archaeology of the native people, which will tell us the story of their unique existence before and after the arrival of the Spanish.

Monday, March 23
Join us in Old Town San Diego for a welcome reception and lecture from a local archaeological expert.

Tuesday, March 24                                                                                                 L
We will begin our tour with a docent-guided tour of Mission San Diego de Alcala, founded in 1769. After touring the mission, we will explore the Father Serra Museum to learn more about the man who “founded California.” After a picnic lunch, we will tour the Cabrillo National Monument where Juan Cabrillo first landed in San Diego and take in breathtaking views of the San Diego area. We will then depart San Diego for a night in Oceanside to the north.

Wednesday, March 25                                                                                            L
In the morning we will have a docent-guided tour of the spectacular Mission San Luis Rey, founded in 1798. This Mission lent its name to the Luiseño tribe of Mission Indians.

We’ll then continue our day with a stop at the San Diego Archaeological Center for a presentation and tour of the facility with their knowledgeable staff. We will then travel east into the desert environment of Anza Borrego State Park, spending the first of two nights in Borrego Springs.

Thursday, March 26                                                                                                L
We will ditch our tour bus for off road transportation and take an excursion into the desert to tour the Morteros, Pictographs, and Mine Wash archaeological sites in Anza Borrego State Park, guided by site stewards and State Park archaeologists. In the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to get a rare look into the Anza Borrego State Park’s Archaeological Lab with the park’s archaeologist. We will finish our day at the Anza Borrego State Park visitor’s center, ending with a second night in Borrego Springs, California.

Friday, March 27                                                                                                     L
We will depart Borrego Springs for Anza to tour the Conservancy’s Cary Ranch Preserve. We’ll learn about this extremely unique preserve, including the Cahuilla village site of Pauki, visits to the area by Juan Bautista de Anza in 1774-1776, as well as the lives of the people who established today’s ranch. Our tour guide will be Dick Cary, who grew up on the ranch. We will then depart Anza for San Juan Capistrano, where we will have a docent-guided tour of what many people view as the gem of all California missions, Mission San Juan Capistrano, founded in 1776. After our tour of the mission, we will depart for San Diego for our final night in Old Town San Diego.

Saturday, March 28
Tour participants depart for home.

Tour Details:

Cost includes first class hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $375), lunches, happy hours, expert Conservancy and special guides, admittance fees, tours and orientations, background reading, and surface travel via air-conditioned bus with restroom (except on Thursday, March 26 we will be in open air trucks).

Not included are meals other than lunches and travel to and from San Diego.
B=Breakfast              L=Lunch        D=Dinner

To join us on this tour, or for further information, contact us at or by phone at (505) 266-1540.

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