Rancho Penasquitos

Rancho Penasquitos sits on the eastern edge of the Penasquitos Canyon in San Diego County. Last week I walked the canyon floor, an easy and enjoyable six-mile hike. When I finished, I toured the Rancho.

Penasquitos is Spanish for “little cliffs.” Look around and you will see the rugged palisades that rim the canyon. The Rancho sits on property that is a portion of San Diego’s earliest land grant.

In 1823, the first Mexican Governor of California, Luis Antonio Arguello, awarded 4,243 acres of the Rancho Santa Maria de los Penasquitos to Captain Francisco Ruiz, as a reward for his military service. Captain Ruiz built a small adobe home in 1824 on the current location. Captain Ruiz bequeathed Rancho Penasquitos to his great-nephew, Francisco Alvarado, who was active in politics before and after the American occupation. In 1859 Franciso Alvarado’s daughter, Estefana, married Capt. George Alonzo Johnson and they expanded the modest adobe house into a larger rancho for their growing family. In 1880, the Johnson’s lost the ranch and it went through many owners until 1962 when Penasquitos, Inc bought the ranch and 14,000 acres. In 1974 the County of San Diego acquired the land around the rancho and began to develop the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve. The rancho stands today an authentic interpretation of early Californian history.

On Saturday, January 29th, when I went to the rancho, it was a warm lovely January day. The temperature was about 80 degrees and the sky was blue with high wispy clouds. The trees around the rancho swayed gently from the ocean breeze.

Other than some archeology students outside and the ranger, I had the Rancho to myself.


The furniture was lovely.

A family room?

A look out the window toward the west. Imagine fields of cattle.

Delicate needlework:

Another room:

Another window view of the west:

View from the front veranda:

Fountain in front:

The original adobe wall:

Walking around, this is the west side of the rancho.

Bees were buzzing around this plant:

View from the west veranda:

Eastern view of the Rancho:

This was a wonderful trip back in time. I hope anyone in the area who has not seen this piece of history, will take the time to visit.  Enjoy the slide show:

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2 comments on “Rancho Penasquitos

  1. Lee says:

    Beautiful! Makes me want to go back– and I want that fountain in front!

  2. Geri says:

    Lee – That is a great fountain – let’s go back to the ‘adobe hacienda?”

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