Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in 1542. Cabrillo, a ship builder and an owner of mines and farm land in Guatemala, was selected by the governor of Guatemala to  build and provision ships to explore the Pacific coast. He landed near the monument site, claimed the land for Spain, and continued up the coast. He made it as far as the Russian River before stormy weather forced him to turn south but he never got back to Guatemala. A fall on rocks broke his leg which became infected. He died from gangrene and was buried on one of the islands.

  The monument site, featuring a large statue representing Cabrillo, sits high above San Diego Bay with a wonderful view of the city. The visitor center has a video and exhibits about the expedition. A short trail leads to an 1855 lighthouse, a small museum, and an overlook of the ocean and the new lighthouse which is not opened to the public. A military history exhibit is housed in a World War I radio station. Tidal pools can be explored at low tide.


The visitor center and overlook at the statue are accessible. A steep path which is accessible with assistance, leads to the lighthouse. Parking permits are available if you wish to drive to the lighthouse but the parking area is not large enough for most RVs. The museum is accessible. The living quarters of the lighthouse are not accessible due to steps. The military exhibit is accessible with assistance. The tidal pools are not accessible.

The parking lot has a long RV space and several bus spaces.

Monument   32.67433, -117.24128



  1. November 22, 1963 I was on the playground of my elementary school when I heard the news, in Sacramento at 'John' Cabrillo Elementary School, named after "João Rodrigues Cabrilho", or better and more properly known today as "Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo". One of those fateful days one never forgets... The original Cabrillo School opened in early 1900's as Sutter School, changed name and location in the '50s. No idea why they picked the "John" spelling...

    1. He must have been a very talented and intelligent guy from what we read at the museum. Good person to name a school after!
      (other reports give him low marks for his treatment of the native people in Guatemala though)