Although Gray Grahams's road report from June of 2013 is more than a little outdated, what he has to say about qualifying your source of your Baja information remains timeless...
As Gary wrote: After my customary two-day drive down the peninsula, I arrived in Los Barriles Tuesday June 10, in the afternoon Prior to my departure, several posts on different forums noted delays and dusty detours due to road construction and, God forbid, potholes, in a long litany of disgruntled comments.
The reports caught my eye and caused me some anguish; I even used my notes as part of one of my weekly reports.
Reported road issues for trip down Monday, June 9, 2014:
No problem on detour around damaged Toll Road section.
Be prepared for rough and dusty detours somewhere between Ensenada and Santo Thomas.
Be prepared for potholes between Catavina and Punta Prieta.
Intense road construction below Loreto before grade. Then more construction from Insurgentes all the way past El Cien into El Centenario before La Paz.
Despite some underserved grumblings, the El Chaparral Border crossing is slick. As you drive toward the gates, remain in the far right lane to enter the lot. If you need an FMM, enter the parking lot with easy access to the building that houses Inmigración, the bank, restrooms and other services a traveler might require before actually crossing the border. The bank will even exchange dollars for pesos if you need them.
I chose to take the toll road and exited following the detour signs to the route avoiding the portion of the Toll Road under repair. To be fair, it was early – 6ish – when I hit the road and traffic was not that bad until I reached Ensenada.
I find that regardless of the time of day, traffic in the city always surprises me on how much of it there is these days.
A few miles past Maneadero, the traffic lightens significantly and the real Mex One is revealed. While there was some road construction between the area south of Santo Tomas down to San Vicente, there were no delays and I continued on my way into San Quintin Valley, where once again the traffic in that stretch slowed me down.
Soon, I was through the populated area and I pretty much had the road to myself with little traffic for a Monday. Again, there was some road construction along the way that barely slowed me down as I drove farther south to Catavina where the vados at both ends of the village were a bit rough, but easily navigated with the normal amount of water running in both.
As promised in some of the reports, there were potholes from there to Punta Prieta, no more or no fewer than normal, and I kept on rolling through Guerrero Negro. An interesting note for experienced road warriors: The inspector south of the monument did not ask for a $1 nor did he offer to spray the underside of the van. After arriving at Los Barriles the next day, a friend confirmed they had the same experience. Go figure.
Next on my agenda was a fuel stop at the first Pemex on the right at Viscaino, where, for the first time I can remember, they had both regular and premium gas. I'm guessing, but imagine the reason is that several new stations have sprung up in the village in the past few years.
It was smooth sailing on to Mulege and I was parked in an RV space well before dark.
The following morning, the drive to Loreto for my meeting was uneventful and nothing slowed the drive. I was soon back on the road, heading south. The first and only delay of the trip was beyond Nopolo, and just before Juncalito. The road along the cliffs built long before Mex One became a reality, is being completely redone and I suspect it will be a while before it is completed. The flagman assured me it would be 45 minutes before the truck, along with the growing line of cars, would be allowed to pass. So taking one my folding lounge chairs and placing it as close to the edge of the cliff as I could, I was able to take advantage of the cool breeze coming off the Sea of Cortez. In no time, actually less than the 45 minutes, I was on my way. I will gladly forfeit that amount of time every trip, if that’s what it takes to have a highway 1/3 times wider than it has ever been.
Perspective of the Source
Thanks for the compliment here Gary, we always have endeavored to make our Baja Road Reports a value to all our readers.
James and I have both been driving Baja for decades, he longer than I, and every once and a while we get to make end to end trips and road reports ourselves. We keep up on it so we can evaluate and edit those road reports as needed.
It ain't half the adventure it use to be!
Enjoy your Baja Road Trip! ~ Tomas
NOTE: The number of stop signs in Ciudad Constitución has seemed to grow over the years to double digits and they are on nearly every corner through town.
From there all the way to La Paz, there were other patches of road construction that, although they required some driving on dirt, didn't really seem to be much of an inconvenience. The longest patch was after the inspection station north of El Centenario.
Since I was dropping off some things in La Paz at The Tailhunter Restaurant and FUBAR Cantina, I was forced to drive all the way into the Malecon. Needless to say, the big city traffic was no fun and I was delighted when I finally reached the village of San Pedro, the last village at the south end of La Paz. But even with the delays and detour into the town of La Paz, I was at East Cape RV, my home base when in Los Barriles, long before dark.
The Internet is a valuable resource, but one must be careful to realize that much of the stuff posted on various forums may not be reliable. A word of advice: If you are planning to drive to Baja, you will do much better to check with Discover Baja, Vagabundos del Mar or Baja Insider. All are experts in Baja travel, particularly driving and road conditions. To be forewarned is valuable as long as you know your source.
Our thanks to Gary Graham, very veteran Baja driver, reknown fisherman and Baja author.