Yuha Basin Drive Professional Guide
Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook
"You will follow in the footsteps of prehistoric Native Americans, 18th-century Spanish explorers and settlers, 19th-century gold seekers and others who ventured through this intricately eroded sedimentary basin where dependable water once could be found at now-dry Yuha Well [N32°42.952' W115°52.619']. Ancient geoglyphs—abstract ground designs that Native Americans centuries, perhaps even thousands of years ago, created in the desert pavement above the basin—have been vandalized but restored. The geoglyphs, as well as the area’s ancient footpaths and prayer circles, remind modern visitors of the long human presence in this austere region. They also demonstrate how long signs of human activity remain visible in the desert. The basin includes a stretch of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail (EC274), a 1,200-mile route that retraces the journey of the first Spanish settlers to make an overland expedition from Mexico to Northern California. In 1774 Anza led an exploratory expedition from Tubac, Sonora (in today’s southern Arizona) through Yuha Basin to Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, in today’s Montebello, California, in Los Angeles County. In 1775–1776 Anza led a colonizing expedition of about 240 men, women and children across the Yuha on a journey from Tubac to the mission at Monterey, California. Today, the maze of routes through the basin includes a segment of the California Back Country Discovery Trail (EC346), an evolving network of off-highway vehicle roads between Oregon and Mexico. Although this region is among the driest anywhere, the climate has changed over the ages, evidenced by the oyster, barnacle and other fossils in sediments laid down by an inland sea—2,000-squaremile Lake Cahuilla (a.k.a. Lake Leconte)—some 6 million years ago. Limited collecting of fossils for personal use is allowed."