California Spanish Missions

Franciscan priests created 21 missions somewhere in the range of 1769 and 1833 in Alta California, joined by military outposts. Their objective was to spread Christianity among the California Native Americans. To help with overland travel, the missions  were arranged roughly 30 miles separated, by around a day's travel on horseback, or three days by walking. The trail inevitably turned into a 600-mile long "California Mission Trail." Rev. Lasuén effectively contended that filling in the vacant spaces along El Camino Real with extra stations would give truly necessary rest stops where voyagers could take stopping in relative security and solace. Heavy cargo delivery was only by water. Convention has it that the padres sprinkled mustard seeds along the trail to mark it with splendid yellow mustard blossoms.

Today a developing number of individuals, calling themselves California Mission Walkers, climb the mission trail course, typically in fragments between the missions. Walking the trail is an approach to interface with the missions history. For some it speaks to an otherworldly journey, enlivened by Jesuit minister Richard Roos' 1985 book, Christwalk. The loose gathering is endeavoring to formalize the course and build up markers, like the 330-mile El Camino de Santiago, in Spain.

List of missions in geographical order, north to south
Name Date Coordinates 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, the oldest surviving structure in San Francisco and the sixth religious settlement established as part of the California chain of missions. The Mission was founded on October 9, 1776, by Lieutenant José Joaquin Moraga and Francisco Palóu
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. It was founded on June 11, 1797, by the Franciscan order and was the fourteenth Spanish mission established in California. The mission is the namesake of the Mission San José district of Fremont, which was an independent town subsumed into the city when it was incorporated in 1957.
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 Mission.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

There are many books about the California Missions at Amazon