List of Missions & Presidios in the United States

San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona by the West Coast Art Co, 1913

San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona by the West Coast Art Co, 1913.


In 1687 Jesuit missionary, explorer, and mapmaker Eusebio Francisco Kino set out from Mexico City as a missionary to establish missions in Sonora, Mexico, and southern Arizona. This area was primarily inhabited by the O’odham tribe, which the Spaniards called Pima. The combination of economic planning and a broad tolerance for Indian customs was the basis of Kino’s success in his campaign of peaceful conquest. A born organizer, Kino provided a sound economic base for his missions, teaching the people to raise cattle and grow new crops like wheat. Today, the Sonoran desert on both sides of the international border is dotted with the remains of these missions.

Mission Puerto de Purísima Concepción

Mission San Cayetano de Calabazas, Tumacácori


Mission San Miguel, California by the Detroit Photo Co, 1898

Mission San Miguel, California by the Detroit Photo Co, 1898

The Spanish did not seriously explore California until 1769, when explorer Gaspar de Portolá led an expedition into the area. With him was Franciscan missionary Junípero Serra, who would establish several mission communities to stop other countries from settling in the region. Serra founded the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, in present-day San Diego, as the first of nine California missions he established during his lifetime. The work continued after his death, and between 1769 and 1823, a total of 21 missions were built that extended for 650 miles along the California coast.

Mission La Purísima Concepción, Lompoc

Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, San Luis Obispo

Mission San Antonio de Padua, Jolon

Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad Mary, Soledad

Mission San Buenaventura, Ventura

Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo, Carmel

Mission San Diego de Alcalá, San Diego

Mission San Fernando Rey de Españam Los Angeles

Mission San Francisco de Asís, San Francisco

Mission San Francisco Solano, Sonoma

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, San Gabriel

Mission San José, Fremont

Mission San Juan Bautista, San Juan Bautista

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Capistrano

Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside

Mission San Miguel Arcángel, San Miguel

Mission San Pedro y San Pablo de Bicuñer, Imperial County

Mission San Rafael Arcángel, San Rafael

Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara

Mission Santa Clara de Asís, Santa Clara

Mission Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz

Mission Santa Inés, Solvang

Presidio of Monterey, Monterey

Presidio of San Diego

Presidio of San Francisco


Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida by the Harris Co, 1912

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida by the Harris Co, 1912

Mission building by the Spanish in the United States first occurred in Florida. The first known mission was established in about 1526, and over the next 180 years, well over 100 mission centers were built to Christianize the natives. These missions spanned from present-day Miami, north to the Chesapeake Bay, and west to Pensacola. However, by 1680, the Spanish faced mounting pressure from English colonists in South Carolina, and the natives allied with them. Between that time and 1706, mission populations were killed or escaped to St. Augustine, held by the Spanish until 1763. Today, only a handful of mission locations have been found and excavated, and only two sites are open to the public.

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine

Nombre de Dios, St. Augustine

San Luis de Apalachee, Tallahassee

New Mexico

Pecos Pueblo Mission, Pecos, New Mexico by Kathy Alexander

Pecos Pueblo Mission, Pecos, New Mexico, by Kathy Alexander

In 1598 Spanish conquistador Juan de Oñate led 400 colonists to the lands along the Rio Grande north of present-day El Paso. The new colonists were to engage in ranching, while 12  Franciscan missionaries were to provide the local Pueblo Indians with religious instruction. Initially, the Pueblo people didn’t outwardly resist the missionaries, but this began to change in the 1670s when famine, disease, and mounting war casualties convinced most Pueblos that they had been wrong to accept the outsiders’ religion. In August 1680, the pueblos, under the leadership of Popé, attacked the Spanish colonists, killed 21 of the 33 missionaries, burned churches, and destroyed records. The Spanish then fled the area and didn’t return for 12 years.

Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

San Buenaventura de Cochiti

San Buenaventura de las Humanas and San Isidro – Gran Quivira, Mountainair

San Estevan del Rey Mission Church

San Francisco de Asís Mission Church, Ranchos de Taos

San Geronimo de Taos, Taos

San Ildefonso Pueblo

San José de Gracia de Las Trampas

San José de los Jémez Mission and Gíusewa Pueblo

San Lorenzo de Picuris

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe

Santa Clara Mission Church


Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas by Kathy Alexander

Mission San Jose, San Antonio, Texas by Kathy Alexander

Two Spanish missions were founded in east Texas in the late 17th century to stop the French from settling in the area. However, because of the hostility of the natives, they were abandoned in 1693. They were later reestablished, but by 1773, they had declined in importance, and most settlers moved to San Antonio. Five missions were built along the San Antonio River that flourished throughout the 18th century.

Mission Espada Church Bells, San Antonio, Texas by Kathy Alexander.

Mission Espada Church Bells, San Antonio, Texas, by Kathy Alexander.

© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated March 2023.

Also See:

A Day in the Life of a Spanish Missionary

Life in the Spanish Missions

Missions & Presidios of the United States

Spanish Missions in Texas

Spanish Missions & Presidios Photo Gallery