Baja Mexico Jeep Expedition 2012


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Part 1

This trip report covers the 2 weeks that myself and 3 other Jeeps traveled across the border and down to Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja and back the last week of September and first week of October 2012.
We had planned to follow part of the Baja 1000 track down the Sea of Cortez side to La Paz, & Cabo and back up the Pacific Coast side, eat fish tacos, drink lots of Margaritas, and just have a great time and we did just that!
We did not experience any of the negative fearful stuff that you hear about Mexico. We found the Mexican people, the Military Check Point Soldiers and store/restaurant owners to be very polite, honest people that were very happy that we had decided to vacation in Baja.

I left my house in Sparks early Saturday morning Sept 22, 2012 for my overnight stop just below Las Vegas, NV.
I had wanted to take my '98 Jeep ZJ that Samco is building for just such a trip as running part of the Baja 1000 but it was still too far from completion.
I was driving my '96 Jeep ZJ and got just South of Hawthorne, NV when the motor began to hesitate.
It felt like a bad fuel pump and with 210k on the original pump, I was not surprised. I made it to Las Vegas but just barely as it wouldn't go faster than about 35 mph.
I was stuck in Vegas (not a bad place to be stuck in) until Monday morning when I could get the fuel pump replaced and this put me a day behind the other 3 Jeeps, a TJ, & 2 JKs that crossed the border on Sunday at Mexicali.

I was able to catch them at San Felipe for lunch on Tuesday:
BAJA MEXICO SEP OCT 2012 002.jpg

We soon ran out of pavement as we continued South to our overnight camp spot on the beach at Gonzaga Bay:
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Part 2

The next morning we turned inland as we traveled South on parts of the Baja 1000 track to Coco's Corner.
We sat with Coco for over an hour as we listened to his stories about the way things used to be and drank cokes with him:
BAJA MEXICO SEP OCT 2012 028.jpg


Coco showed us a Scorpion that he had just captured before we arrived:

After we left Coco’s Corner, we followed the Baja 1000 course through the Calamajue Canyon. Reports on other web forums indicated that the trail was in good condition, but those reports were posted before the rainstorms that occurred earlier in September. The trail crosses the stream numerous times and the trail was washed out in places.

We then turned East to camp on the beach at Bahia de Los Angeles:
BAJA MEXICO SEP OCT 2012 043.jpg

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Part 3

We were keeping an eye on the weather because Hurricane Miriam was brewing in the Pacific just off the southern tip of Baja. We left Bahia de Los Angeles and followed the Baja 1000 course toward Punta San Francisquito. The summer monsoon rains had washed out the road in several places and slowed down our travel.

Just before noon, dark storm clouds began building up and soon we were caught in a low spot in the valley as the water poured from the sky and flash flooded the streams behind and ahead of us.

BAJA MEXICO SEP OCT 2012 088.jpg

When we finally made it to the beach campground at Punta San Francisquito we were greeted with a double rainbow:
BAJA MEXICO SEP OCT 2012 095.jpg

We rejoined the Baja 1000 course and followed it up La Cuesta De La Ley grade and through a very green desert to the town of El Arco.


We left El Arco on a narrow sandy two-track trail that is as straight as an arrow for nearly twenty miles. We later learned from a Baja motorcycle racer that this stretch of the course is nicknamed the “sand highway” and racers reach speeds of over 120 mph on it.
I was only able to do 60 mph before my Jeep wanted to slide over in the soft sand toward one of the high banks on either side in the deeper places.


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Part 4

We reached pavement on MEX-1 just outside of Vizcaino. We aired up and headed into town to replenish our pesos at the ATM (the first one we had seen since leaving San Felipe on Tuesday) and to refuel our Jeeps. Unfortunately, we discovered that we had arrived on payday, and the line for the ATM stretched across the bank’s parking lot.

We continued south on MEX-1 to Santa Rosalia where we planned to replenish our pesos and eat dinner. We discovered that since it was Friday evening, the center of town was jammed with people, the narrow streets were jammed with cars and although there were several banks in the center of town, each had long lines at the ATM. It took awhile to find parking, then we stood in line at the ATM.

After replenishing our supply of pesos, we regrouped and stopped at a café for dinner. After dinner, we continued another 40 miles to Mulegé where we found a campground. For the fifth night in a row we were the only guests at the campground.

We were just beginning to dry out from Hurricane Miriam when we encountered more rain from Tropical Storm Norman. The storm was located about 85 miles east of Cabo San Lucas and heading northwest. We hoped to avoid some of the rain and get away from the warm, muggy weather of the Sea of Cortez by crossing to the Pacific side of the Baja peninsula. Our destination was Puerto San Carlos on Magdalena Bay, approximately 200 highway miles from Mulegé. We stopped for lunch in Loreto.

Puerto San Carlos is a fishing community on Magdalena Bay. Its main industry is a fish processing plant. In winter, tourists come to Puerto San Carlos to view the migrating gray whales. We chose to stay at the Hotel Brennan and for the first time since leaving Mexicali, we were not alone; there was one other guest at the hotel. We had come to Puerto San Carlos in search of drier, cooler weather but we were disappointed because in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Miriam we found it was just as warm and humid along Magdalena Bay as it was on the Sea of Cortez.


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Part 5

Sunday, September 30, 2012 – Puerto San Carlos to San Jose Del Cabo

One week had elapsed since we crossed the US-Mexico border, and the tip of the Baja Peninsula was 300 miles away. We left Puerto San Carlos and rejoined MEX-1 at Cuidad Constitution. We traveled down Hwy 1 to La Paz, where we stopped for lunch on the Malecon.


We continued down Hwy 1 and visited the small town of El Triunfo. In the 19th century, gold and silver were discovered in the area and the town once had a population of 10,000. The mines have closed and now only a few hundred people reside in El Triunfo.

We were able to find a three-bedroom condo at the Alegranza Resort in San Jose Del Cabo. After nearly a week of camping, we welcomed the plush accommodations and especially the air conditioning at the Alegranza.

About mid-afternoon the next day, we headed to Cabo San Lucas. Our goal was to see the Arch and Land’s End thus signifying the end of our trip down the Baja Peninsula. We took a water taxi to get close to the Arch and Land’s End.


After returning to shore, we shopped for souvenirs of our trip and searched for a Margarita to celebrate reaching the tip of the peninsula. We went to an open-air restaurant next to the marina for our celebration.


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Part 6

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 – San Jose Del Cabo to Loreto

We loaded our Jeeps and checked out of the Alegranza Resort on Wednesday morning. We planned to cross the border on Saturday, so we had four days to travel 1100 miles. The weather was clear, warm and not as humid as the week before. We traveled on MEX-19 through Todos Los Santos on the Pacific Coast, and joined MEX-1 just south of La Paz.
We then had lunch on the beach.
The view from the restaurant at El Tecolote

After lunch, we continued north on MEX-1 to Loreto. We arrived after dark and got rooms at the Desert Inn Hotel on Loreto Bay. We traveled about 400 miles on Wednesday.

After breakfast at the hotel, we resumed our journey toward the border. We did not have a definite stopping point in mind for that night. Our plan was to continue toward the border on MEX-1 and decide later when to stop for the night. We took a break for some pictures along Concepcion Bay:

We stopped for lunch in San Ignacio and toured the church.

At sunset, we were just over 100 miles from the Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario. The pavement along this stretch of MEX-1 is narrow and winds through hilly terrain. Oncoming semi-trucks would often encroach on our side of the road. We tried to stay behind trucks going in our direction in order to shield us from the oncoming traffic, but it was not easy keeping up with the big trucks whose drivers knew the road well. We arrived safely at the Baja Cactus Motel shortly after 9 pm. We had traveled about 500 miles on Thursday. We were now within an easy day’s drive from the border (about 220 miles).


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Part 7

Friday, October 5, 2012 – El Rosario to Ensenada

Our long drive on Thursday eased the pressure on us to get to the border in time to cross on Saturday. We were about 220 miles from the border. Our revised plan was to travel to Ensenada on Friday and find a hotel near the beach. We should arrive early in the afternoon and have time to enjoy the beach and go souvenir shopping in Ensenada. On Saturday, we would travel to Tecate and cross the border early in the afternoon.
We had a nice breakfast at Mama Espinosa’s restaurant in El Rosario and drove to the Mona Lisa Hotel in Estero Beach on the outskirts of Ensenada.

Saturday, October 6, 2012 – Ensenada to Tecate

On Saturday morning we loaded up the Jeeps and headed to the border crossing at Tecate.
We reached the border at 12:15 pm and said our goodbyes, and an end to another great Jeep trip.
My '96 Jeep ZJ has now taken me from the Arctic Ocean at the top of Alaska to Cabo San Lucas at the bottom of Baja Mexico, of course with a few new parts along the way. :rolleyes:

This was the line at the border.

And when I got home I was just too Dog tired to do anything:
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New member
What an epic post! Thanks so much for the effort. Makes me want to try that trip! Great photos to illustrate your posts!


New member
Thank you so much for sharing this trip. I have been to Los Cabos several times, but have never driven. I have bee trying to convince my wife to go.


New member
Looks like you all had a great trip and a wonderful adventure. Thanks for the fantastic trip report.


Very cool post. Has the race route changed? In the days I raced the Baja 500 and the Mexican 1000, between 1968 and 1973, the stretch between San Felipi and Bahia de Los Angeles was part of the Baja 500 route.


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They are working on the road to pave Mex 5 all the way from San Felipe to where it will connect to Mex 1 past Coco's Corner to Chapata at Mex 1.
They were close to finishing the section between San Felipe and Gonzaga Bay but that was before the recent Tropical Storms that washed part of the road away.
According to Coco they want to eventually be able to re-route the major truck traffic from the border heading to La Paz & Los Cabos. They want to bring it down the Sea of Cortez side of Baja for that first stretch and avoid the congestion between Tijuana, through Ensenada and El Rosario on the Pacific side.