OFF THE BEATEN TRACK BAJA DESTINATIONS
The most popular Baja destinations are listed on the home page of BAJA
EXPO. However, there are many additional destinations throughout this
magnificent Peninsula that are unique and special. In this section, we share
some of these out-of-the-way locations, and some basic information about
Drop by BAJA NATIONAL PARKS and BAJA MISSIONS for more
travel ideas on Baja!
Reviewing the BAJA PENINSULA FROM SPACE shows you the general
geography of both northern and souther Baja from the ultimate perspective!
To add some degree of organization, we have divided these Baja destinations
into two basic locations: BAJA CALIFORNIA (northern Baja) and BAJA
CALIFORNIA SUR (southern Baja). Enjoy!
Baja California is the name of the state that adjoins the U.S. border at the top
of the Baja Peninsula. It is bordered on it's southern end by the state of Baja
California Sur, the most recent territory in Mexico to become a state. For more
information on Baja California and it's main cities drop by BAJA EXPO.
LAGUNA SALADA * LAGUNA HANSEN * MELING RANCH
MIKE'S SKY RANCH * MISSION SANTA MARIA * OBSERVATORY
PUNTA SAN FRANCISQUITO * RANCHO LA PUERTA * TECATE
Even the most seasoned Baja traveler will probably say "where?" if you ask
them if they have be to Algodones in northern Baja. And for good reason...it's
not really a tourist town. As a matter of fact, it's barely even located in Baja!
But if you take a peek at a map of Baja, and look in the upper right hand corner
near Yuma Arizona and the California border, you will find the warm and friendly
Baja town of Algodones, Baja California, Mexico.
Home to 18,000 happy souls, what makes this town somewhat important is that it
is one of only a few border areas where one can cross from the United States to
Baja, and a customhouse is available for importing and exporting. The town is
somewhat 'famous' for its dental offices...14 at last count! Algodones hosts 2
festivals each year, a Welcome Winter Visitors Festival in December, and a
Thank You Visitors Festival in March!
Algodones can be reached by taking Baja Highway 8 east of Mexicali all the
way to the end, or by crossing the U.S. border off of U.S. Highway 8 a dozen
miles west of Yuma, Arizona.
(GPS coordinates 29'43.68 N ~ 114'43.13 W ) For such a small place, Catavina
gets a lot of attention! Located on Baja Highway One between El Rosario and the
Bay of L.A. junction, Baja aficianados have loved Catavina for many reasons. Out
of necessity they have stopped in Catavina for gasoline over the years. Although
the large Pemex station on the east side of the highway has been closed for years
now, you can usually find an industrious Mexican trying his best to cash
in on the American game of capitalism (usually at about $3.50 per gallon!) in
the parking lot across the street.
Aside from the gas, the 58 room DESERT INN hotel a few small restaurants, most folks love the Catavina area for the
spectacular large bolders, beautiful oasis valleys and raw desert scenery. There
is no other place in Baja that offers this wonderful combination, and Catavina is
always worth stopping for a delicious photo opportunity! For the truly adventurous,
the road just north of Catavina to the pacific coast is some of Baja's most remote
Catavina offers a small market "Abarrotes Tonche" and the Oasis Cafe on the west side of the Baja Highway, in addition to 5 small rooms at "Cabanas Linda", a few hundred yards north of the La Pinta Hotel, on the east side of the highway. San Ysidro Ranch, located one mile south of Catavina east of the Highway, also serves good food. If you need a place to sleep and don't want to pay for all of the amenities of the La Pinta this is your best option. Catavina is an official bus stop on the Transpeninsula Highway
for travelers headed north or south.
Catavina can be reached by taking Baja Highway One 76 miles south of El Rosario.
Don't blink or you might drive right past it!
El Rosario is located on the west coast of Baja, about an hour south of San Quintin.
For many years this is where the Baja blacktop ended, and the wilds of Baja began.
For decades Mama Espinosa fed the daring souls who were brave enough to tackle
the terrible dirt road that headed south towards La Paz. Today, El Rosario still
plays host to Mama Espinosa's Restaurant, and she still dishes out the lobster
burritos that helped put her on the map. But El Rosario is no longer the end of
the road for the asphalt, and except for the huge new 24 hour gas station at the
north end of town, most folks don't spend much time here as they head south
towards Catavina and to points further south.
El Rosario does offer a decent size market at the big curve in town (south
side) and an auto parts store (at the curve, north side) for those who are able
to limp back to civilization after car trouble. If you want to make a phone call
before heading into the bowels of Baja you will find a long distance phone
station as you head south through town, on the north side of the street, across
from the soccer field. The 9 room Motel El Rosario is located at the north end
of town, and the 10 room Sinai Motel and R.V. is located at the south end.
Also, Mama Espinosa has opened up CABANAS ESPINOSA offering 12 clean rooms just
steps away from her famous restaurant.
El Rosario can be reached by taking Baja Highway One 36 miles south of San
Quintin. Last chance for predictable gas, so fill 'er up!
Several elements combine in Guadalupe Canyon to make it a true desert oasis.
A natural river flows down the steep east side of the Sierra de Juarez mountains,
forming waterfalls and pools in the granite rocks. This river water joins a
unique collection of underground thermal springs, which come to the surface
next to the pools, in the lower elevations of the mountains, just above the
valley floor. The water from the granite pools is used to cool the boiling
thermal water, in a collection of man-made "hot tubs" scattered throughout
a palm-filled camp. It's quite a combination of man and nature, and a great
place to sooth the body after a hard day of treking through Baja. A small
store provides very basic needs, and a small fee is charged to enter the area.
For more information on the area, check out the GUADALUPE CANYON
HOT SPRINGS web site.
Access to Guadelupe Canyon is via a dirt road which runs west of Laguna Salada,
south of Baja Highway 2, west of Mexicali. Standard vehicles can probably make it
to within a mile or two of the camp, but the road deteriorates as it gains elevation
prior to reaching the oasis. At this point a high clearance vehicle is usually needed.
Located just south of the U.S. / Mexican border, west of Mexicali, Laguna Salada
is a huge (sometimes wet - sometimes dry) lake bed that stretches south for
almost 60 miles! It is shaped somewhat like an hour-glass, long and skinny and very
narrow at the center. During times of little rain, the lakebed becomes dry, and
driving on it in most any type of vehicle is a real treat. During times of significant
rain the lagoon can fill completely with water, leaving the road along its west bank
as the only means of traversing the area. The Sierra de Juarez mountains lie directly
to the west of Laguna Salada, which includes Laguna Hansen and the National Park.
Laguna Salada can be reached via the border crossings at either Tecate or Mexicali.
The road south to Laguna Salada is off of Baja Highway 3, about 16 miles west of
For more information on the area southeast of Guadalupe Hot Springs check out the
SAN FELIPE section of Baja Expo.
Laguna Hansen is a piece of mountain paradise in a pine covered mountain setting,
complete with a beautiful lake! The dirt road is usually in pretty good shape, so
street vehicles with decent clearance and 4X4's are both welcome. Snow can fall
here in winter, and cross country skiing is a recreational option. Welcome to Baja!
Need a place to stay in this neck of the woods? Try Motel Rancho de las Banditos
about 4.6 miles south of Laguna Hansen at 011-52 (617)4-6225. A fun place to stay!
Laguna Hansen can be reached most easily off of Baja Highway 3, turning north
at the dirt road just past Ojos Negros.
Meling Ranch was closed, but is now re-opened. Little has
changed at this quaint hillside watering hole since it first opened many years ago.
The rooms are rustic, spacious and clean, with fireplaces for heat in the winter.
The dining hall serves meals family-style, offering a great way to meet other Baja
travelers! Meling Ranch is the perfect stopover for those folks heading further up
the mountain to the National Observatory, or down the coast for a Baja adventure.
Meling Ranch is accessible by a fairly decent graded road which starts at Baja
Highway One, just south of Colonet. The 30 mile road starts off level, and then
gradually increases in elevation to the foothills where the ranch is located.
For reservations to the ranch, call 011-52 (617) 7-5897 or write to P.O. Box
189003, PMB 120, Coronado, California, 92178-9003.
MIKE'S SKY RANCH
Mike's Sky Ranch has played host to dirt bike lovers and the off-road crowd for
decades. Located up in the hills off of a rough dirt road south of Baja Highway 3,
Mike's Sky Ranch plays a unique part in the history of Baja. Simple accomodations
and good meals continue to attract off-road lovers, and Mike's can be a great place
to hang your hat before heading further into Baja's rugged mountains.
For more information on motorcycle tours to Mike's Sky Ranch, check out
TRAIL BOSS TOURS.
Although Mike's Sky Ranch can sometimes be reached by crossing over from
Meling Ranch (the road comes close to falling completely apart in several sections
towards the middle), most guests arrive via a marked dirt road turn off on Baja
Highway 3, near Corona Cardenas, halfway between Ensenada and the San Felipe
MISION SANTA MARIA
There's not much left to the ruins at Mision Santa Maria de Los Angles in the
mountains east of Catavina. The mission was abandoned in the 1800's, and today
only a few half walls of the old mission, a doorway, and not much else remain.
However, most Baja adventurers who head for the mission are coming for more
than the old adobe walls. The canyon adjacent to the mission is the site of
undergound springs that create pools of water to form a true desert oasis.
It's easy to see why this location was chosen to establish a mission because
of the water, although it is hard to comprehend how anyone got to this remote
location hundreds of years ago. Although it is only 15 miles east of Rancho
Santa Ynez, it one of the toughest 15 offroad miles Baja has to offer. Yes,
the road starts off looking rather harmless...only as a means to entice you!
Once you get too far in to change your mind, the road gets bad. And then real
bad. There are several places on this road where road conditions will
drop you down to a snail's pace, and keep you there for longer than you might like.
A high clearance vehicle is strongly suggested, and if you have running boards on
your shiney S.U.V....good luck. Ultimately, about a mile from the mission and the
pools, the road falls completely apart, and the average 4X4 vehicle can now look
for a place to park. Right in the middle of the road will do fine. Walking in the
last mile or so is fun, you are just happy to be in one piece! Walking around the
mission site and the pools is a real treat (and a photo opportunity!). If you want
to take a dip in the water to cool off, the first pools to the right are the deepest
ones for a swim, down the small hill. The water further down the road by all of the
palm trees is usually too shallow for swimming, although it makes for an
Finding the road to Mision Santa Maria is relatively easy. Taking Baja
Highway One south of Catavina, hang a left (go east) at the sign for Rancho
Santa Ynez. After stopping at the small but quaint Santa Ynez Restaurant for
a cold one or a bite to eat (don't expect much here, it's not a big
restaurant) the road to the mission wraps just behind the restaurant to the
north, and then east. If you drive past the wreckage of an old airplane
(another photo op!) you are on the right road. At the fork in the road,
stay to the left. The road to the right heads down into the wash, and the
sand is very soft. Looking at a map of the area, it appears that one
might be able to access Mision Santa Maria from the east side, via Gonzaga Bay.
Forget it. Not even on a motorcycle. I spoke with a couple who hiked in from
Gonzaga Bay, but it was a three day process that involved significant rock
Mexicali is not a tourist town. Not even close. But because travelers often go through Mexicali to get to some of the
most popular destinations in Baja, we have included it in this section.
Mexicali is a border town sitting just south of the US / Mexico border. The main border offices between downtown Calexico (on the US side)
and Mexicali (on the Mexico side) is open 24 hours a day. There is also a new border crossing about 3 miles east of town that is not open 24 hours.
Because most people crossing the border do not want to head 10 mintes east just to cross the border this new border does not tend to be as crowded. But it does close early.
Mexicali hosts an annual Agricultural Expo each year just south of town at the fair grounds (west side of the main highway), featuring agriculture equipment, services and technology. If you own a ranch in the Mexicali area you don't want to miss it.
There are 3 higher quality hotels in Mexicali, located on the main road heading south through town. US and Mexican businessmen often stay in these hotels and the service is good.
Two of the most popular Baja destinations south of Mexicali include SAN FELIPE and BAHIA DE GONZAGA. Both towns offer great beaches, but these two destinations couldn't be more different.
San Felipe is a rather large town with plenty of services, shops, restaurants and visitors. Bahia de Gonzaga is a quiet bay with one small hotel and one restaurant that is not always open. This is where you got to really get away!
For more information on Mexicali vist the web site of MEXICAL TRAVEL.COM.
Baja's largest observatory lies at the very top of Picacha del Diablo, Baja
California's highest mountain peak. At an elevation of 10,154 feet above sea
level, this is one of the few places on the Peninsula were it snows on a
somewhat regular basis! Getting to the observatory is pretty easy. The
observatory is located within the Sierra San Pedro Martir National Park,
so the area around the observatory is wide open spaces in a pine tree
setting. Visitors to the observatory can drive almost all of the way
to the top, except for the last half mile or so. The last section must
be taken on foot, which is ironic, because it is the only section
of the road which is paved! Although the observatory itself is generally
not open to the public, the views from the surrounding large bolders are
nothing short of spectacular. The Sea of Cortez can be seen down below,
as well as a panoramic vista for miles in all directions.
To get to the Observatory, take Baja's Highway One to Colonet, then
take the marked graded road located 6 miles south of town. Heading east
for approximately 60 miles will get you right to the Observatory entrance.
For more information on the area west of the Observatory check out
the SAN QUINTIN section of Baja Expo.
PUNTA SAN FRANCISQUITO
If you really want to get away from it all, and you are willing to pay the price (in
time and the abuse to your vehicle), and don't expect any luxuries when you get
there, Punta San Francisquito is a good place in the Baja outback to 'drop out'. This
remote Baja hideaway is not easy to get to, but it is even harder to leave. It
is a small rustic resort (and we use the word resort rather loosely here) tucked
away on a one mile stretch of prestine beach in the middle of nowhere. Services are
basic here, and include a very casual restaurant (can you say picnic tables?), 4
somewhat enclosed palapas with cots for sleeping ($25 per person per night), plus primative his and her
restrooms. Pilots love the place because of the airstrips,
and Baja adventurers of all types drive in on motorcycles, dune buggies, and 4X4
vehicles for an evening or two of relaxation. Even sea-planes love this place...
just ask Jimmy Buffet who spent a week here one day!
Punta San Francisquito began as a hunting and fishing camp in the late 1960's.
Rudy Valladolid, a farmer from Tijuana who was an avid sportsman, bought the property but used it very infrequently.
Years later he leased the land to a US-based company that ran a small "all-inclusive" resort on the site, providing access by building a small airstrip on the dry lakebed behind the beach.
After a few years of low profits they bailed out and Rudy jumped back in. Ten palapas provided shelter for pilots who flew in and adventurers who drove in.
In the late 1980's 5 of the original 10 palapas were torn down with the idea of building newer and nicer accommodations. But this is Baja and that never happened.
The resort fell into a rough state of disrepair until Javier and Chary Tiznado began running the place in the early 1990's. Rudy's son Genero Valladolid took over managment of the resort in 2001 and things seem to be going well.
The small staff does a commendable job of running the facilites, and the meals are
usually delicious! Plan a minimum 3 hour rugged drive in from the north, via Baja
de los Angeles. This north road to paradise is recommended for high clearance
vehicles and 4X4's only, although lesser vehicles have made the grade. The world's
record for getting to Punta San Francisquito on the north road was established in
1997 by Baja aficianado Dave Denis. Dave made the grade in a stock Toyota Tercel,
and lived to tell about it. Damage to the vehicle was significant, but it didn't
matter because it wasn't Dave's car!
Diversions at Punta San Francisquito include shore fishing (Carlos caught a 25 lb. yellowtail from shore here early one morning), panga fishing (at about $100 for captain and boat, half day), snorkeling (Carlos recommends the protected reef at the north end of the bay), Scuba diving (south end), kayaking ($8 per hour), and walking on the beach (free). Star gazing and sunrises are simply spectacular
For pilots looking to drop into paradise for a day or two there are two runways at Punta San Francisquito.
Runways 33/15 were paved at one time but have not been maintained. There were many pieces of broken asphalt on it when Carlos Fiesta walked the field in 2003. The taxiway is mid-field.
For birds needing a bit longer strip this 3,725 foot long strip (40 feet wide) is still an option. However runways 30/12 are hard packed dirt (unless it has recently rained) and more often used by pilots who are comfortable with it's 3,300 foot length (60 feet wide). The taxiway to ramp parking is mid field.
Pattern altitude for all runways is 800 feet MSL and the south approach is recommended (winds permitting) to avoid the 50 foot hill at the north end of the runways. Field elevation is approximately 10 feet MSL. Tiedowns are free near the base of the resort and fuel is sometimes, but definately not always, available at about $3.50 per gallon.
Most pilots use the CH-22 WAC chart which includes all of the Baja Peninsula. Radio frequencies are 122.8 for Unicom (not always monitored) and 126.3 for Mazatlan Center. The GPS location is N 28 degrees 24.6 and West 112 degrees 51.6. The airstrip parking is less than 200 feet from the main resort area.
The majority of pilots from the US use San Felipe as an Airport of Entry on the way down and an Airport of Exit on the way home. It's best to take on enough fuel in San Felipe for the full round trip, although in an emergency auto fuel can be rustled up in Puertecitos. Carlos Fiesta found this out the hard way when a stiff headwind ran the tanks low prior to reaching San Felipe. Yikes!
For further information on flying in Baja visit the web site of BAJA BUSH PILOTS or get the best publication on flying Baja AIR BAJA by Galen Hanselman. Both the Baja Bush Pilots and MacAfee and Edwards offer Mexican insurance for flying into Baja.
Punta San Francisquito can be reached by vehicle by taking the 75 mile dirt road south
from Bahia de los Angeles, or by taking the recently improved 67 mile dirt and
gravel road from Baja Highway One, just south of Guerrero Negro, through El Arco.
The resort is located 290 miles south of the US border, 180 miles south of San Felipe.
The phone number to call for reservations is their Tijuana office at 011-52 (664) 681-0709.
For more information on the area north of Punta San Francisquito check out
the BAHIA DE LOS ANGELES section of Baja Expo.
RANCHO LA PUERTA
Simply one of the best Spas in the world...you deserve it! Phone (760) 744-4222
or Fax at (760) 744-5007. Drop by the HOT TIPS section of Mexico Expo for more
information on this one of a kind Spa.
Located just outside of Tecate! Check out their web site for further information!
Being a hop, skip and a jump from the U.S. border is just one of the advantages
of visiting Tecate. The great beer factory is another! The town features excellent
restaurants and bars, clean hotels, mucho shopping, and even an 18 hole golf course,
Rancho Tecate. The Health Spa RANCHO LA PUERTA has been voted
one of the best spas in the world! The Tecate Museum is also a local attraction to
enjoy, and Baja wine country is just a short drive from town.
BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR
Baja California Sur is the Mexican state occupying the southern half of Mexico's
Baja Peninsula. It is surrounded by ocean on three sides and on it's northern border
it adjoins the state of Baja California. For more information on Baja California Sur
check out the city directory in BAJA EXPO or drop by our extensive CABO
SAN LUCAS section!
EL TRIUNFO * LA PURISIMA * MAG BAY - SAN CARLOS
PUNTA ABREOJOS * PUNTA CHIVATO * PUNTA CONEJO
SANTA ROSALIA * SIERRA DE SAN FRANCISCO
CANYON DE TRINIDAD
A general survey of the areas surrounding Mulege would lead one to believe that
all of the water near this quaint oasis village is either in the river running
through town, or east of town in the Sea of Cortez. Actually mother nature has
a water wonderland suprise waiting just a bit inland for Baja adventurers who
don't mind a bit of a walk. Canyon de Trinidad is a unique oasis located about
an hour east of Mulege. It's a perfect half day excursion!
Hiring a friendly guide in town is the best way to get the full tour of this
Baja secret, and the rates are reasonable (including a
sandwich lunch and drinks). After the one hour ride towards the canyon, there
is a trail hike of several miles. Wearing tennis shoes and bringing extra
drinking water for this hike and the upcoming pools is highly recommended.
There are actually three pools in the beautiful canyon to visit at the end
of the trail hike, and getting wet and wading through refreshing water to get
to the final pool is part of the program! The last pool offers petroglyphs in
the adjoining rock cave, and is a great finale for the trek. This whole area
is Federally protected, and a licensed guide is a requirement.
Canyon de Trinidad is located 18 miles west of Mulege. A series of dirt
roads will lead you to a small ranch where registration takes place. Guides
can be obtained in town at the Las Casitas Hotel. Ask for Salvator.
For more information on the area east of Canyon de Trinidad check out the
MULEGE section of Baja Expo.
Located on Baja Highway One about 32 miles east of Magdalena Bay (San Carlos)
on the Pacific Coast, Ciudad Constitucion is "24 blocks of commerce" located
halfway between LORETO and LA PAZ. This busy city provides the basic
services needed to handle most of the agriculture, fishing and tourism that
takes place in and around the fertile Magdalena Valley and coastline.
The town offers 4 Pemex stations, one just north of town (east side) and 2 in
town (both are located on the west side of the Highway). Other service available
include an Internet Cafe and Long Distance telephone service (mid-town on the east
side of the street, across from the Pemex station), Goodyear and Firestone tire
shops (on the west side of the street), a tire repair shop at the north end on the
west side of the street, and the Score Disco located near the north end of town on
the east side!
Both the Serfin Bank and the Banamex (west side of the main street) offer ATM's that pay their jackpots in pesos.
There are 5 decent hotels in town, including the Hotel Mirable with 40 rooms
from $22 (telephone 011-52 (113) 2-0155). Other hotels include Hotel Conquistador
(011-52 (113) 2-2745), Hotel Casino (011-52 (113) 2-0465) and Hotel Conchita (011-
52 (113) 2-0266). Just north of town on the east side of the Highway about a mile
or so is Manfred's R.V. Park which has 85 spaces and a pool and will also accept
The town offers a decent variety of restaurants, including 2 Super
Pollos (north end and south end), El Jarocho, and El Pequeno Dragon. For a good taco (carne asada or pescado) you can't do better than Karen's Tacos on the main street at the northeast corner of Avenida Olancha.
Baja Highway 22 at the north end of town heads west from Constitucion to the port town of San Carlos and Magdalena Bay.
For additional information on the area contact Mag Bay Tours at 011-52 (113)
Cuidad Insurgentes is located 12 miles north of Ciudad Constitucion on the Baja
Blacktop. This is where the north road from Loreto makes a sharp turn south,
headed for La Paz. The town has a population of approximately 10,000 people,
most of who are involved in agriculture. The main street running through town is
called Benito Juarez, and Pemex gas (station #1709) is on the west side of the street
mid-block. A long distance telephone (open 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and then from
4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.) is located on the east side of the street. The two decent
sized markets mid-town are Mini Super Baja Sin (east side) and Super Mar Marcado
Market (west side). If you have been on the road in Baja for a long time the
young checkout girls at these markets look pretty cute! Hungry or want to take
some food on the road to go? El Pollo Real is located on the east side of the street
near the statues in the middle of the road at Avenida Hidalgo.
For more information on the area north of Ciudad Insurgentes check out the
SAN JUANICO section of Baja Expo.
Over a hundred years after silver was discovered in the southern Baja mountains
at San Antonio, silver and gold were discovered in a nearby mountain area, soon
to be called El Triunfo (The Triumph). The year was 1862, and the fever grew
quickly as minors from other parts of Mexico and the United States set up camp
to find their fortunes. Many of the miners who missed out on the California gold
rush of 1849 came to El Triunfo for a second chance at striking it rich, along
with those who had hit pay dirt in California and wanted to try their luck again.
By 1865 this once-sleepy cattle ranch became a boom town of approximately ten
thousand souls. It was, at the time, the largest settlement in all of southern Baja!
After 60 some-odd years of mining, El Triunfo finally closed its operations in 1926.
Today, as the Baja traveler visits the area, it seems difficult to picture this quaint
collection of brick buildings as anything more than just another quiet Baja village.
The buildings that are located right on Baja Highway One are very scenic, but the
empty ghost-town feel of the area makes it hard to believe that over 400 people still
call El Triunfo home.
The tall chimney and surrounding brick buildings just in from the south side of
the highway are the remains of the old smelter. The interior ceilings of the smelter
buildings are lined with dried smoke remnants several inches thick from the many
decades of operation.
As we enter the new millennium, mining on a very small scale still takes place
in El Triunfo, a small reminder of the grand history of this very special Baja town.
El Triunfo can be reached by taking Baja Highway One south of La Paz
approximately 30 miles. The highway runs right through town!
For more information on the area south of El Triunfo check out the BUENA VISTA
section of Baja Expo.
LA PARISIMA - SAN ISIDRO
These neighboring Baja villages are located in a very remote and lush valley
approximately 70 miles north of Ciudad Insurgentes. Established in 1719 because
of the underground springs that accommodated small areas of farming at cattle,
these watering holes and the cliffside aqueduct still provide water for citrus,
mango and date trees. Palm frawns are also dried here for palapa roofs and fences
for other nearby villages.
The large sloped butte just north of town is a landmark that can be spotted from
many miles away. "El Pilon" looks a lot like a landing spot for U.F.O's in a
sci-fi movie, except for the white cross on the top! La Parisima offers a small
market and gasoline from drums mid-town, on the north side of the street (a Pemex
is on the way). A small but squeeky clean cafe "Restaurant Claudia" on the south
side of the street will stifle that growling stomach and also offers cold sodas.
San Isidro, a mile or two east of La Parisima, has a lot less going on and is a
traditional sleepy Baja pueblo. It does offer gasoline from drums on the west side of
town. It's another 35 miles east to Baja Highway One on a sometimes tolerable,
sometimes terrible dirt road.
For more information on the area north of La Parisima check out the SAN
JUANICO section of Baja Expo.
MAGDALENA BAY - SAN CARLOS
Bahia Magdalena, more commonly called Mag Bay, is one of the three large bays
on Baja's Pacific coast where the whales go each year to mate and give birth
from late December through March. But there's much more going on in Mag Bay
than just whales. The bay is also known for its good fishing, and the port
city of San Carlos plays host to many different fishing and tourist operations.
The smaller areas of the bay on the northern end have recently been discovered
for their excellent kayaking, and now flycast fisherpeople (men and women)
are discovering the pure joy of saltwater fly fishing in these protected northern
On the Pacific side of Mag Bay there is a whole different agenda going on. Sailors
have been using the protected waters of Bahia Santa Maria as a gunk hole for
years, and this northern bay is truly a special part of the Baja unspoiled wilderness.
On the north end of Santa Maria Bay surfers have discovered an excellent right
break, off the tip at Punta Hughes. The difficult access and complete lack of facilities
keeps the crowds away.
San Carlos offers small hotels, markets, good restaurants, one trailer park, a
Pemex station and an ice factory. For more information you can contact Mag Bay
Tours at 011-52 (113) 6-0035.
Magdalena Bay is located due west of Ciudad Constitution, about 30 miles west of
Baja Highway One.
For a town located so far from civilization, Abreojos has grown up a lot in the last
few years. Like most of Baja's west coast villages, Abreojos is a fishing town. The
proposed new salt mining operations at Laguna Ignacio, just a short distance south
east, has been cancelled. (Did we really need more salt?). Abreojos is sure to grow
even more in the years ahead.
Abreojos is also known for its surfing and windsurfing. Although more exposed to
south swells than others, the point is also capable of pulling and wrapping swells
from the west and north, giving it a bigger window of swell activity than some of
the other 'secret spots' in Baja.
Punta Abreojos is accessible via Baja Highway One, at the graded road turn off
between Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio.
For many years Punta Chivato was known as one more classic fly-in destination
for Baja pilots. The Punta Chivato Hotel also provided shelter for those brave
souls who treked in off the blacktop in search of another Baja adventure. Although
Punta Chivato has changed significantly over the last 10 years, the airstip is still there and it is still one of
Baja's best kept secrets.
The recently opened POSADA DE LOS FLORES hotel is one of the big changes
at the point. The old Punta Chivato Hotel has been transformed into a classic resort-
style property ready to serve those who will pay the pesos to be pampered at the
newly polished point. The staff at this fancy hotel are not friendly.
On either side of the hotel homes have sprung up on the miles of spectacular
beaches, but there is still plenty of wide open space for beachcombing and lazing
away the day. The two airstrips are in good shape, and still allow a quick getaway
for private pilots looking for adventure. The old road coming in from the Baja
Blacktop has been partially replaced by a new, more direct dirt road (remember
how that old road used to take you w-a-y around before heading to the point?).
This easier access is sure to promote a greater interest in Punta Chivato real
Punta Chivato can be reached by taking the dirt road north of Mulege east at the
sign for about 14 miles.
For more information on the area south of Punta Chivato check out the MULEGE
section of Baja Expo.
Punta Conejo is one of the few surf breaks on the west coast of Baja between
TODOS SANTOS and SAN JUANICO. It tends to be a finicky place to surf,
not so much for the lack of waves as for the weather conditions. The place usually
gets windy by 10:30 in the morning and evenings can get foggy and chilly. The wave
is a left break off of an offshore reef, and the beach is sand. There is a small
fish camp at the north end of the beach, just up from the light tower. No other
services are available and the only place to sleep in on the beach or just back
from the beach in the flat area near the bushes. This is also the best place to
meet other surfers and to set up campfires for the evening. Thousands of empty
clam shells cover the sand above the high tide line.
Punta Conejo is located off of Baja Highway One between Ciudad Constitucion and
La Paz at km. 81. Head east at the large tractor tire painted white. High clearence
vehicles are suggested although if you are a good driver you can probably make it
in any car.
Welcome to the most "non-Mexican" looking town on the Baja Peninsula! Santa
Rosalia, a growing town of approximatley 10,000 people located at Km. 196 on the
Baja Highway, looks more like a wild-west mining town than a seaside Baja village
...and for a good reason. In 1868 Jose Rosa Villavicencio discovered copper in this
desolate Baja outpost. Mining began with the Germans and then followed by the
French. Sailing ships transported the copper to Europe via Cape Horn, and the
harbor at Santa Rosalia was a very busy place for many decades. In the 1920's
major mining operations stopped, although there were still a few smaller operations
working the mines. Eventually over 375 miles of tunnels had been dug in the hills
around the area.
Today the grid-pattern streets and wood buildings still have that mining town flavor,
including the large black locomotive located at the entrance to the town. The cast
iron church designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (yep, same guy) is still in use.
The town is clean and the locals are friendly. The cultural mix of people walking
the streets is evidence of the ethnic heritage of the city's past.
Santa Rosalia's harbor is now used as a ferry port, taking Mexicans and Baja
travellers to Guaymas on Mexico's mainland. Ferries depart Santa Rosalia for
Guaymas on Fridays at 11:00 P.M. and arrive in Guaymas Saturday morning.
Facilities in town include the EL MORRO HOTEL (20 rooms) located just south of
town on the sea of Cortez, the SOL Y MAR HOTEL (8 rooms) also just south of town,
and the new HOTEL EL INDUSTRIAL (8 rooms) just north of the town entrance,
great for boaters who are at anchor across the street.
Campers and R.V.'s can stay at the LAS PALMAS R.V. PARK located at Km. 192
on the ocean, which also features a restaurant and bar. A Pemex station is located
on Baja Highway One on the west side of the street, just south of the town entrance.
A good place to grab a bite to each and enjoy the ocean view is Selene Restaurant,
also located just south of town about a mile, on the east side.
For side trips check out the Tres Virgenes volcanos north of town at Km. 31
(north side). If you are headed south towards MULEGE take a gander at the
PRISON at km. 189 on the east side of the blacktop. Yikes!
If you have a sweet tooth don't miss Santa Rosalia's famous bakery located on
the main road through downtown, right side! For a truly distinct Baja destination
Santa Rosalia is numero uno!
SIERRA DE SAN FRANCISCO
Who needs Orson Wells? Looking for a real time machine? Just take the road to
Sierra de San Francisco, south of Guerrero Negro. You will be transported back in
time to a place that has changed very little in the last couple of hundred years.
The big draw here is the cave paintings...both pictographs and petroglyphs. The
spectacular canyon and mountain scenery along the way up the mountain are the
icing on the cake. A Mexican law mandates that tourists visiting the cave
paintings be accompanied by a guide designated by the state. Your choice of
guides includes the Fischer family in San Ignacio, and they are a great source
of information for the entire area. Another option, although a bit riskier, is
to head up to the ranch near the cave areas, Rancho Enrique. Enrique's son, or
another designated guide, is usually avaialble to unlock the gates at the
closest cave paintings of Cueva Raton, and give you the chef's tour. They will
usually not quote you a specific fee for their services, put a generous tip is
The dirt road to Sierra San Francisco is located east of Baja Highway One,
27 miles north of San Ignacio. The 22 mile graded road from the blacktop to the
cave area is usually in decent condition, and the views are world class!
For more information on the area west of Sierra de San Francisco check out the
GUERRERO NEGRO section of Baja Expo.
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