Although the missions and presidios of the Santa Cruz Valley date as far back as the late 17th century, the Spanish were in Arizona some 150 years before Father Kino began founding missions in the region. To learn more about the first Spaniards to explore southern Arizona, head east from Nogales through the picturesque towns of Patagonia, Sonoita, and Elgin. The area between Sonoita and Elgin has become Arizona's winery region with modern day winemakers reviving an activity first brought to Arizona by Spanish missionaries who needed to have wine for communion. Continuing eastward, you come to the retirement community of Sierra Vista, south of which you'll find Coronado National Memorial. This preserve on the edge of the San Pedro River valley is dedicated to Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, who, in 1540, led an expedition into Arizona in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, which were supposedly built of gold and jewels. Although Coronado never found the riches he sought, his expedition did explore as far north as the Grand Canyon. However, it was here in the San Pedro valley( World known today for it's exemplary birding) that his expedition first set foot in what is today Arizona.