Depending on the source, there were either 8 or 10 more missions established in Baja California after the Jesuits were removed from New Spain in 1768.

The first post-Jesuit mission was the only one founded in Baja California by the Franciscan Order, San Fernando Velicatá, in 1769.

In 1773, the California peninsula missions were handed over to the Dominican Order and the Franciscans continued establishing missions in Alta California.

The Dominicans established up to 9 new missions, with the final 2 being disputed by some historians as being simply new locations for Mission San Miguel.

The name and years for each mission will be followed by a recent photograph (taken between 2000-2018) then some will be followed by older photos to compare the sites. GPS waypoints are at map datum WGS84. Uncredited 2016-2018 photos by David Kier.

On the final page are links to more Baja California history web pages, including the mission visitas and detailed maps and satellite images of the Camino Real mission road.

Northern Baja Missions

A close-up of Peveril Meigs map to show the location of the final 10 mission sites in Baja California, north of Santa María.

The final 10 Baja California missions

San Fernando Velicatá was the only Franciscan founded mission in Baja California. The Dominicans assumed control of the Baja California missions in 1773.

18) San Fernando Velicatá 1769-1818

19) Nuestra Señora del Rosario Viñaraco 1774-1832 (Moved 2 miles west in 1802)

20) Santo Domingo 1775-1839 (Moved 2 miles east in 1798)

21) San Vicente Ferrer 1780-1833

22) San Miguel Arcángel 1787-1834 (moved 7 miles west in 1788, and 8 miles north from 1710-1714)

23) Santo Tomás de Aquino 1791-1849 (moved 1 mile northeast in 1794, and 2 miles east in 1799)

24) San Pedro Mártir de Verona 1794-1806 (moved 7 miles south and nearly 2,000′ lower in elevation, after 3 months)

25) Santa Catalina Virgen y Mártir 1797-1839

26) El Descanso 1830-1834 [not a Spanish mission]

27) Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe 1834-1840 [not a Spanish mission]

The Franciscan and Dominican Mission Photos:

San Fernando Velicatá 1769-1818 (29°58’16.5″, -115°14’12.2″)

The only Baja California mission founded by the Franciscan Order, San Fernando Velicatá was picked by the Jesuits as a future mission site. Photo in 2002 by Jack Swords (copyright).

June 2017

1926 mission plan

1926 photo (towards the west) by George Hendry

1949 photo (towards the east) by Marquis McDonald

1953 photo (towards the west) by Howard Gulick

1959 photo (towards the north) by Howard Gulick

1974 photo (towards the east) by David Kier

1975 photo (towards the north) by David Kier

More photos of San Fernando:

Nuestra Señora del Rosario Viñadaco 1774-1832

2005 photo by David Kier at the first site for the Rosario mission. GPS: 30°04’01.0″ -115°43’08.0″. In 1802, the mission’s water source became unusable. The mission was moved 2 miles down the valley, and nearer to the river.

2005 photo by David Kier, looking west.

2005 photo by David Kier, looking south.

March 2017

1956 photo by Howard Gulick, looking west.

1957 photo by Howard Gulick, looking south.

1961 photo by Howard Gulick, looking east.

Mission floor plan from Peveril Meigs’ book showing the first site for the Rosario mission.

More photos:

Second site for Rosario Mission 1802-1832

2005 photo by David Kier at Rosario de Abajo, near the south bank of the El Rosario River. GPS: 30°02’29.0″ -115°44’20.8″

March 2017

1926 photo by Peveril Meigs

1930 photo by Margaret Bancroft

1949 photo by Marquis McDonald.

1958 photo by Howard Gulick.

Peveril Meigs’ plan for the second Rosario mission drawn from his investigation, in 1926.

More photos:

Santo Domingo 1775-1839

2005 Photo by David Kier, at the second mission site. GPS: 30°46’15.2″ -115°56’14.0″. The first site was just over 2 miles west and was moved here in 1798. The first site was at the west end of the canyon, near the cliff known as ‘Red Rock’.

Oct. 2017

In 2003 Jack Swords took this photo of Santo Domingo.

At nearly the same spot, but 49 years earlier, 1954 photo by Howard Gulick.

1949 photo of Santo Domingo by Marquis McDonald

1926 photo of Santo Domingo by Peveril Meigs

1926 plan of second site by Peveril Meigs

Santo Domingo in an 1886 photo sent in by Dr. Robert Jackson.

First Santo Domingo Mission Site (1775-1798)

1955 Howard Gulick photo at the first site below ‘Red Rock’. Note the HR for Hamilton Ranch, once located just south of this spot.

1930 Margaret Bancroft photo of the Hamilton Ranch. ‘Red Rock’ is the cliff, seen just north.

More photos:

San Vicente Ferrer 1780-1833

2003 photograph by Jack Swords (copyright). Mission adobe walls with protective coating to preserve what little remains of the mission complex. GPS: 31°19’47.9″ -116°15’33.0″

June 2017

1930 Margaret Bancroft photo at Mission San Vicente Ferrer

1930 Margaret Bancroft photo of Mission San Vicente ruins

1949 Marquis McDonald photo

1955 photo by Howard Gulick

1955 Howard Gulick photo

San Miguel Arcángel 1787-1834

First located 7 miles east, moved in 1788. Only a few walls reman along today’s ‘Ensenada free road’ (Mexico #1), in La Misión. 2003 photo by Jack Swords (copyright). GPS: 32°05’39.1″ -116°51’15.0″

Oct. 2017

The site is next to a school overlooking the river valley. 2003 photo by Jack Swords (copyright).

The east church wall is saved by the supports added. 2003 photo by Jack Swords (copyright).

1949 photograph by Marquis McDonald of San Miguel mission ruins.

Plan of an Miguel site from 1926. Note that the map is oriented with south at the top.

Santo Tomás de Aquino 1791-1849 (First site: 1791-1794)

2005 photo at the first mission site (#1) by David Kier. GPS: 31°34’11.0″ -116°28’50.0″

The Santo Tomás mission was first located some 2 1/2 miles west of the town of Santo Tomás. Two sets of ruins (1 mile apart) have been photographed and both called the first mission location (site #1 and site #2):

Peveril Meigs, in 1926 only documented site #2 and site #3. Meigs called site #2 the ‘first site’. Peter Gerhard (in 1956) and Michael Mathes (in 1977) do not mention site #2, only site #1 as the first site and a move in 1794 to site #3.

Zephyrin Engelhardt (1929) gives the year 1794 for a move “higher up” (p 575). Engelhardt (p 625) then provides the founding date of April 24, 1791, the first move in June, 1794, and a second move “on account of the lack of pastures” that was requested “8 years since the founding” (1799).

Site #1 is on the south side of the oak tree lined stream, on the valley floor. It should be considered the first location because mosquitos and flooding were reasons for a move “higher up”, made in 1794. The mountain blocking direct sunlight was also a concern, wrote one padre.

The move from site #2 (because of the “lack of pastures”) to the final site (#3) was made in 1799. Many adobe buildings were constructed there, yet almost nothing remains.

1977 photograph by Michael Mathes at the first site for Santo Tomás mission.

Second mission site 1794-1799

2009 photo at site #2 by David Kier. GPS: 31°34’24.3″ -116°27’58.7

1998 photo at site #2 by Kevin Clough

1949 photo at site #2 by Marquis McDonald. A photograph by Peveril Meigs some 25 years earlier shows nearly the same. The remains were plowed over and have vanished, about 2012.

Third Mission Site 1799-1849

Mission ruins in March of 2017. Sadly, almost all gone! Photo by David Kier
2005 photo at site #3 by David Kier. Located just north of the ‘El Palomar’ campground, on the east side of Hwy. 1. GPS: 31°33’30.0″ -116°24’48.9″
The mission’s caretaker with statues and bells, circa 1919
1926 photo at site #3 by G.W. Hendry
1930 photo of the Santo Tomás mission #3, by Margaret Bancroft
1949 photo at site #3 by Marquis McDonald
1956 photo by Howard Gulick
1961 photo by Howard Gulick
1975 photo at site #3 by Robert Jackson

San Pedro Mártir de Verona 1794-1811

San Pedro Mártir is the most remote and difficult to reach mission on the peninsula. At 5,080 feet above sea level, reaching the mission requires 2 days of backpacking, from the nearest road. In 2004, Jack Swords and other Baja enthusiasts reached the mission, with guides from the Meling Ranch. GPS: 30°47’24.3″ -115°28’20.9″

Originally founded 7 miles north at La Grulla meadow, at an elevation of 6,800 feet. The mission was moved here after just 3 months because of the cold. Additional reading on both sites in links below. Photo by Jack Swords (copyright)

Stone walls and foundation stones remain along with some scattered tile chips to show the mission site. Photos by Jack Swords (copyright)

Had it not been for a fire some weeks before these photos were taken, much of these ruins would be hidden from view. Photo by Jack Swords (copyright)

2004 photo by Jack Swords (copyright)

1955 photo by Howard Gulick at nearly the same spot as the 2004 photo, above.

1930 photo by Margaret Bancroft

1926 mission plan by Peveril Meigs

Academic papers on both sites for Mission San Pedro Mártir (1794-1811):

2004 Misión San Pedro Mártir Trail Details

  • GPS map datum is NAD27 Mexico
  • a) Trail Head: 30°49.974′, 115°37.718′ elev. 2,710′ (4 mi. so. of Santa Cruz)
  • b) Rancho San Antonio: 30°49.004′, 115°37.643′ elev. 1,934′
  • __Rio Horno (campsite): 30°46.422′, 115°33.875′ elev. 2,833′
  • c) San Isidoro: 30°45.905′, 115°32.745′ elev. 2,982′
  • __Base of Palisades: 30°46.337′, 115°31.010′ elev. 3,407′
  • __Top of Palisades: 30°47.073′, 115°30.130′ elev. 4,917′
  • d) Misión San Pedro Mártir: 30°47.395′, 115°28.268′ elev. 5,092′
  • Hiking Time & Estimated Trail Distance (plus direct line on map distance)
  • a to b : 1 hr., 2 miles (1.1 mi.)
  • b to c : 4 hrs., 8 miles (6.0 mi.)
  • c to d : 7 hrs., 10 miles (4.9 mi.)

Santa Catalina Virgen Y Mártir 1797-1840

June 2006
August 2018

Located just outside of the village of Santa Catarina is the site of what some believe to be the last mission founded during the Spanish age in Baja California. Nearly nothing remains to show for the effort here. The stake is marking the southeast corner of the mission. 2006 and 2018 photos by David Kier GPS: 31°39’38.1″ -115°49’16.0″

June 2006
August 2018

A small mound of adobe marks the lookout tower ruins at the northwest corner of the mission and fort of Santa Catalina. 2006 & 2018 photos by David Kier

1926 mission plan by Peveril Meigs

El Descanso  1830-1834

2003 photo by Jack Swords (copyright) at the newly uncovered mission tile floor. Now protected by an awning, the ruins are next to the modern church, just east of the Ensenada toll highway. GPS: 32°12’19.6″ -116°54’19.2″

Oct. 2017

Dominican mission records are lacking, and historians believe Descanso may have been only a new location for the mission of San Miguel, devastated by floods in 1809. The Descanso mission site was first located near the fort, on the south bank of the arroyo. In 1830, the final site was built.

Photo by Jack Swords (copyright)

Oct. 2017

Descanso Fort (and mission location for Nuevo San Miguel, 1810-1815)

Ruins on the south bank of the Descanso valley where Peveril Meigs identifies a fort, in his 1927 photograph. Photo by Jack Swords (copyright) GPS: 32°11’59.4″ -116°54’30.0″

1927 photo by Peveril Meigs of Descanso and the fort location to the south is indicated (the original 1810 mission site).

1927 mission plan by Meigs of the 1830 site for Descanso.

1949 photo of Descanso by Marquis McDonald

Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe 1834-1840

2012 photos by David Kier at the site of the last mission founded in all the Californias. Guadalupe was established following the closure of Descanso and San Miguel missions and is considered by some to be the final site of the mission of San Miguel Arcángel. Note: No remains from the mission here. Footings added at site in 1998 to simulate mission. GPS: 32°05’30.5″ -116°34’30.5″

June 2017

To read more details on the fascinating history and events at the 27 Baja California missions, get my book, Baja California Land of Missions available from the publisher (with free domestic shipping) at or your local book dealer, or online at,, and

Primary books utilized for research include: ‘Antigua California’ by Harry Crosby, ‘Missions and Missionaries of California’ by Zephyrin Engelhardt, ‘The Dominican Mission Frontier of Lower California’ by Peveril Meigs, ‘Black Robes in Lower California’ by Peter Dunne… and more!

Baja’s mission visitas (visiting stations for missions) are in Part 3.

PART 3 The Mission Visitas

>>> See and order my book: Baja California Land of Missions <<

EL CAMINO REAL (satellite images and maps)