The writings of Pedro Castañeda, who accompanied Don Francisco Vásquez de Coronado to New Mexico in 1540-1542, comprise the bulk of what we know of this expedition. This Spanish-born father of eight wrote his observations on the journey.
Coronado led his 250 horsemen, 70 foot soldiers, 300 native allies, and over a thousand servants and dependents from Culiacan, on the Gulf of California across the mountains and into the desert in search of the glorious cities of gold he had heard described by guide Fray Marcos de Niza. Discouraged by the reality of the adobe pueblos, Coronado sent a small force to the west, where progress to the sea was blocked by the Grand Canyon. The Spanish forces wintered at Kuaua Pueblo (present day Coronado State Monument), then set off to find Quivira in the plains. The army travelled the trackless prairie as far as present day Kansas, saw and hunted bison, met the Wichita, and finally returned to New Spain “very sad and very weary, completely worn out and shame-faced.”