The next morning we drove to Coronado National Memorial. Coronado commemorates not only the expedition of the man for whom the park is named, but also the influences of Spanish exploration in the Americas. Practically straddling the Mexican/U.S. border, Coronado offers hiking trails and panoramic views towards the border. After a stop at the visitors center, and acquiring our stamp, we drove out to the Cave Trail and took a short hike up to Coronado Cave. We ventured into the cave a bit, and enjoyed the cooler temperatures, while a bird swooped down at us for being too close to her nest. As we drove to the end of the park, we saw more border patrol agents than anyone else, and lots of signs warning us about smugglers and the proximity of the border.
Our second park for the day was Tumacacori National Historical Park. In 1691, missionaries arrived in the area and established Tumacacori. Now the site protects the ruins of the missionary, particularly the church. The existing ruins were started in 1800, but never quite finished, though the mission wasn’t abandoned until almost 50 years later. It was a tough life in the area, and the museum attached to the visitors center details the surroundings and unrest that populated the lives of the people there. The church itself is very impressive, its dome still intact and many relics on display.
That evening we drove on to Yuma, and the next morning found us searching a stamp rumored to be at a state historic park visitors center. After some false starts, we were able to find our way to the Yuma Crossing Heritage Area and find the stamp. The two people working at the visitors center were very friendly. They had the stamp behind the counter and were very curious about our trip.
To be continued…