2017 Trip photos: Roads and side trips of Baja California All content by David Kier
In 2017, I was sponsored by Baja Bound Insurance to travel and log the details of all the important roads in Baja California plus interesting side trips I knew or heard of. The goal was to have an online, interactive map that could serve as a planning guide and a travel resource. Photographs and GPS waypoints were recorded all over the peninsula. In addition, I wanted to create an actual road log of all the travels, a log that used the kilometer markers as reference points as well as odometer mileages where there were no kilometer markers. On the final trip, a mechanical issue forced me to return before completing the quest. An additional trip in 2018 fulfilled that need. This series begins south from San Felipe. The first trip went to Punta San Francisquito via L.A. Bay.
Most of the ‘campos’ south of San Felipe are actually places that lease lots for long-term occupancy and people build homes or park trailers on them. My goal was to see only the campgrounds, open beaches, and other points of interest so I could be up-to-speed for information to help fellow Baja travelers. I hope to help the people of Baja California by this and inform the travelers of what options they have, yet still leave enough mystery and not go on every road, so there is still a sense of adventure. Guidebooks have never made Baja California uninteresting, I have found. In fact, they compel me to see for myself and there is ALWAYS MORE to see and experience than any guidebook can share.
This will be an ongoing project to recon the roads and sites in Baja as long as I am able to do this, either physically or financially. This is the first trip, so it is one to discover how this works and what I need to change. In addition to writing mileages and drive times, I also have the use of a GPS communicator that leaves a track of where I drive (or walk) and notes on any place I choose to comment. My friends and wife can text me as well. This is the Garmin-DeLorme inReach Explorer.
Following the details of each day, I will share a few photos of what I saw along the way. I hope it inspires you all to see more of Baja California. This data will be able to be updated and those updates can come from any of you to make this a living map-guide to Baja California!
DAY 1 (TUE. DEC. 27, 2016): I travel to Mexicali then south to Arroyo Grande. I am joined by Geoff from Baja Bound Insurance. Geoff was fascinated with my Lost Grave of Melchior Diaz article: https://www.bajabound.com/bajaadventures/bajatravel/searching_for_melchior_diaz
Geoff and I search a side canyon off of Arroyo Grande for the lost grave, then camp there that night. The grave is still lost!
DAY 2 (WED DEC 28, 2016): Having breakfast, I spot a heard of bighorn sheep, high on the ridge above us. Baja is indeed a cool place (it was very cool this morning!). Geoff returns to San Diego and I begin my research trip south.
The following is only a SMALL sampling of the photos from a wonderful data collection trip…
Highway 5 from San Felipe Km. 0 south to Laguna Chapala (Dec 28-30, 2016) The following is only a SMALL sampling of the photos and data collected and that will be available in the future guide.
Km. 0 is six miles south of San Felipe, on the airport road. This road log section will begin here.
Km. 8.5 is Villa Marina RV Park, 0.3 mi. from the highway.
Km. 12 Punta Estrella Beach, 0.9 mi. from the highway.
Km. 14 Valle de los Gigantes, a 6-mile self-drive tour. 4WD only after 1.4 miles.
Km. 21 Rancho Percebu, 2.3 miles from the highway.
Campsites at Percebu on a long lagoon across from Shell Island.
Km. 32 and a camping sign indicate Nuevo Mazatlan is near.
Nuevo Mazatlan and Campo Sahuaro share the same exit at Km. 32.
The founder of Nuevo Mazatlan (Luis Castellanos Moreno) began planting these salt-cedar trees in 1969 and created this oasis in the desert on a big, sand beach. Sometime after 1980, new owner Javier had taken over the beautiful campo.
Km. 72 Campo La Toba, 0.1 mi. from the highway. Cow Patty Cantina is just ahead at Km. 73.
Km. 74.5 is the paved road for Puertecitos and the driveway to Octavio’s Playa Escondida is off of it.
Camping palapas on the cove at Puertecitos, 0.9 mi. from the highway.
The Puertecitos hot springs mix with sea water for comfortable bathing on an outgoing tide. 1.2 mi. from the highway. There is a vehicle fee to enter Puertecitos property, good for 24 hours.
The Puertecitos boat launch ramp has been popular for decades. 1.3 mi. from the highway.
Km. 84.5 La Costilla, 0.4 mi. from highway. This view is from Km. 84.
Km. 99 View Parking. The Enchanted Islands and Punta Final in the distance.
Km. 103 Nacho’s Camp and Isla el Huerfanito (The Little Orphan), 0.4 mi. from the highway.
Nacho’s Camp El Huerfanito palapas.
Km. 114 Some of the Islas Encantadas (Enchanted Islands)
Km. 135.5 Punta Bufeo Motel is 1.4 miles in. Food is available at Km. 133.5, La Poma (1 mile in).
Rooms at Punta Bufeo are not on the beach. The airstrip and private homes parallel the beach here.
Punta Bufeo and a big, sandy beach is a short walk from the rooms.
Km. 143 Papa Fernandez’ Resort is the first of several campos on Gonzaga Bay, 1.1 miles.
The camping beach is over the hill from Papa’s restaurant. A security chain will be opened for you.
Papa is dwarfed by his friend, John Wayne who loved fishing here. Photograph is in the restaurant.
The Papa Fernandez family serves delicious and inexpensive dishes.
Km. 147 is a gas station, market, and 1.8 mile road to this beach at Alfonsina’s Resort. A hotel, restaurant and homes are here, no camping.
A second building with more rooms has been added since this photo.
Km. 149 is the road to Camp Beluga, 2.0 miles.
Camp Beluga palapas. There are cold showers and flush toilets here.
The setting sun illuminates Punta Final, the south end of the region we call “Gonzaga Bay” but is actually two bays. The north bay served as a harbor for the Spanish and was named Bahía San Luis Gonzaga. The remains of their warehouse can be seen by the shore between Papa Fernandez’ and Alfonsina’s. The larger bay between Alfonsina’s and Punta Final is the Ensenada de San Francisquito.Gold was shipped from the Molino de San Francisquito near Punta Final. It was renamed Molino de Lacy after its creator died and is buried at his mill.
Sign at Km. 156 pointing the way east to the bay, 6.3 miles. Camping and private homes are at Punta Final. At Mile 5.2, a road comes in from the right and goes to Molino de Lacy, 1.5 miles.
William Lacy’s grave with a view of Punta Final.
Punta Final camping area. The hill is known as ‘Snoopy’ as it resembles the famous dog on his back.
The gold ore mill at Las Arrastras. The highway bridge (Km. 180) is just west. Near here, the older road branches to the east and goes to Coco’s Corner, 4.2 miles. [In 2021, Coco moved his ‘corner’ here, to Las Arrastras, along the new highway, Km. 179.5]
Coco, a man who did not let his handicap keep him from creating a popular tourist spot on the old road. Coco has been at his corner since the 1990s. The Baja 1000 often passes by with a checkpoint here.
Puerto Calamajué is 22 miles from Coco’s Corner, an abandoned seafood plant and a fishing camp.
The end of Highway 5 at Laguna Chapala (under construction here until 2020). Now marked as Km. 201.