Road Trip from San Felipe, Mexico to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga
One of the wonderful opportunities afforded us in San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico, whether you live in El Dorado Ranch, or else where in town, is a chance to visit interesting places and return the same day. The healthful clean air and bright sunny days make travel interesting and fun.
Visited in 1746 by Padre Fernando Consag, and found uninhabited for lack of water, Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is, since the 20th century, a place noted for good fishing. Not to be confused with Mission San Luis Gonzaga 1751 - 1769 located near Ciudad Constitucion between Loreto and La Paz.
The ride to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga is a really excellent chance to see the mountains and be near The Sea of Cortez. When we traveled the ocotillo were in bloom.
It is a worthy drive.
Starting out at El Dorado Ranch, we headed south on Highway 5 towards the arches. At the roundabout by the arches, make a right and head towards the airport. The mileage markers begin at the southerly turn off from the San Felipe International Airport road. Oddly, they start at km1.
This entire trip is easily done in any reliable vehicle; whatever you are comfortable in or on, i.e., cars, suv, dyne buggy, race car, bicycles or motorcycles. There are no clearance issues. The short unpaved portion requires driving slower.
Km1 to km12 goes along the coast past Punta Estrella and is ok. Asphalt paved and narrow, it still accommodates semi-tractor trailers.
After km12 you enter a "zona de vados". This is to be taken seriously. These "vados" are dips in the roadway. Many are small and of little consequence AND some are extremely dangerous. People have died hitting a dip too fast and bouncing their heads off their roof and breaking their backs or necks. BE CAREFUL. SLOW DOWN.
Please, also, be aware that there are many signs on the road indicating vados. They mean little. Often there is no vado and the bad ones are sometimes missed altogether. Slow is good.
At km 14 you arrive at "La Valle de los Gigantes". These giant Sahuaro cactus are only seen in the southwest. The "Valley" is operated by the Secretary of Tourism of Baja California. You enter, after a small charge per car, into an area that has many cactus and other desert vegetation. A nice diversion and a day trip in itself.
The vados continue, so be careful. For the next 60 km the road moves from closer to the water on the east to a little farther away. Rarely is the sea not seen. Note to the east that there are many homes on the bluffs above the water. Note also, the rooftop solar panels.
Km36 is the Community Center. Here are 3 stores for supplies and 2 restaurants. They have a fire department and local government offices.
Km73 is Cowpatty. Cowpatty is named for Patti Haynes, who found herself in a field of cow patties after her small airplane landed and earned the nickname "Cowpatty". The name stuck and in the 90's she and Richard Wilkes thought it would be fun to open a little place where people could stop, get information and a cold beverage and continue on their journey as well as a place for locals to gather and visit". They sell cold beer, hot dogs and gifts for friends. Beer can covers, or beer bottle covers and other essential items. The rest rooms work. The folks at Cowpatty are very friendly.
Just past Cowpatty is Puertecitos. A lovely small port. We caught the tide up and the view was special. I've not seen it better. The village has a Pemex gas station and restaurant. Both closed. There is is also a wonderful hot spring that bubbles from the rocks along the jetty. Also closed. The woman who owns most of Puertecitos has issues dealing with things.
You are now half way to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga and the road ahead is very good. You have been driving about 1 hour 30 minutes.
This really is the tale of 2 roads. To km75 the road is just ok, with those pesky vados.
Now the vados are past and the road ahead is likely one of the finest view roads you will ever see, certainly in the Baja and maybe on the planet.
High elevations, rocky desolate moonscape like views to the west and the Sea of Cortes to the east, the new road is much closer to the sea. The colors of the water are special. Depending on the mood of the sea and the sky and the time of day the experience is totally different from one day to the next.
The road has been completed to within 5 miles of Alfonsina's restaurant and is very nice to drive. Wide enough with white lines on the right side and view stops along the way. It is surprising how little traffic there is on this road. The posted speed limit is 110 km/hr.
At km118 there is a little known exit west to an extinct onyx mine that has left behind lots of stones.
The km markers stop at 126. The road continues 45 miles south of Cowpatty.
When the pavement stops it time to adjust your thinking. For 45 minutes you are going to proceed at 5 to 10 mph. Get over it.
2 miles ahead is a military check point. They speak a minimum of English, but, probable more than they admit. Be nice.
Another mile to the Pemex. Turn left before the airstrip and proceed to the beach and turn left again. Alfonsina's is at the end.
At Alfonsina's, they have food, motel rooms, airfield, fishing and boating.
The menu is limited, but the food is good. The seafood is, of course, very fresh. Prices are moderate. They have a full bar and seating inside or out. There is an elevated deck. The bay is very quiet and peaceful. Relaxing.
Travel Time from Cowpatty is about 1 hour 30 minutes. Total distance about 100 miles each way. Roughly 3 hours each way.
I had the pleasure of traveling with Nancy Sheek and her son John. We also had Mattie, Zeke and Lex, the dogs. We happened to travel on Tuesday. Seems the peninsula is closed on Tue. Brandi at Cowpatty was cleaning when we arrived. She delivered ice cold beers even though the place was closed. Good for you Brandi.
- Terry Van Arsdale