Seeking to open a land route between Tucson and California, Fray Francisco Garces explored the desert regions in 1775 and 1776. By the end of February 1776, he had reached the Mohave Villages located a few miles south of this location on the Arizona bank of the Colorado River. The Franciscan Father traveled alone in areas never before seen by a European American. Relying on Native American guides, he walked from village to village. The Mohaves agreed to lead him to the coast along a trail used for trade purposes. On March 4, 1776 accompanied by four natives, Garces crossed the Colorado River and reached the San Gabriel Mission in California twenty days later. His route followed a much older prehistoric trail used to bring shells and other trade good to the tribes of the mountain and desert West.