Baja California defines the top (Northern) part of the second longest peninsula in the world. It borders USA to the North and Baja California Sur to the South. Great trails, surf, calming bays, tacos, beer and endless camping options awaits the adventurer.
As the peninsula is split into two states, you’ll probably be riding all of Baja and not just this state. Be sure to also checkout the post on Baja California Sur. This will only focus on the Baja California State. Which is the northern half of ‘Baja’.
Baja California Sur defines the bottom (Southern) end of the second longest peninsula in the world. It ends in the tourist centric, Cabo San Lucas, and Baja California State in the North. Great trails, surf, calming bays, tacos, wild-life, beer and endless camping options awaits the adventurer.
As the peninsula is split into two states, you’ll probably be riding all of Baja and not just this state. Be sure to also checkout the post on Baja California (North). This will only focus on the Baja California Sur. Which is the Southern half of ‘Baja’.
Loreto is an oasis trapped between the waters of Mar de Cortés and the desert lands of Sierra Giganta. It’s the remote land that the Jesuits used to start their pilgrimage to evangelize and colonize Baja and Alta California. But it’s also a Pueblo Mágico (Magical Town) of Baja California Sur that has the joy of being gray and blue whales. Although it seems to be away from everything, there is much to do in Loreto: the Main Square is simple, but with a colonial charm that encourages you to get lost in its cobbled walkways that trace the path to the baroque facade of the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Loreto, the Museo de las Misiones (Museum of the Missions) and the handicraft shops, restaurants and coffee shops.
San Javier (Mission Town)
A visit to the remote village of San Javier is one of the most popular side-trips in southern Baja. The drive to San Javier, from Loreto, is a stunning ride from the coast via some canyons to the small, mission town.
The mission, which is officially named Misión San Francisco Xavier de Viggé-Biaundó, is one of the best-preserved missions in Baja. The present mission dates back to 1758 and has survived the years so well that it is still in use as a church.
The village that surrounds the mission is small, even by Baja standards, with a population of less than 150. San Javier can easily make you think that time machines really do exist. If it weren’t for the vehicles in the village, you could easily imagine that you set the date on your time machine for 1875.
At first glance La Paz is a sprawling, slightly dingy city, but after an hour or so you’ll discover there’s a lot more to it. Laid-back, old-world beauty can be found on a stroll along the waterfront malecón or in the older architecture around the Plaza Constitución; chichi restaurants, cafes and bars cunningly hide in between the cracks. It’s a surprisingly international town – you’re as likely to hear French, Portuguese or Italian here as English or Spanish, and yet paradoxically it’s the most ‘Mexican’ city in all of Baja.
In 1862, silver and gold were discovered in the southern Baja California Sur mountains, leading miners from Mexico and the United States to rush to settle in El Triunfo in a gold rush. Once the largest city in Baja California Sur, it was home to more than 10,000 miners. In its heyday the town was a cultural center, the first in the region to install electricity and telephones. Pianos and other instruments were brought to El Triunfo from around the world and a piano museum still exists. When mines shut down in 1926, most of the townspeople left to look for work elsewhere. The 2010 census reported a population of 327 inhabitants.
Today, El Triunfo is one of the best preserved 19th and 20th century mining communities in North America and remains an important site for archaeological research. A notable feature of the town is the 47-meter-high smokestack constructed in 1890 for El Progreso Mining Company. It is called “La Ramona”, named after Saint Raymond, on whose feast day the project was completed on.
Sierra de la Laguna
Sierra de la laguna sits in the middle of on the bottom road loop of La Paz, Cabo San Lucas and Cabo Pulmo. It contains many valleys providing great opportunities to hike and swim.
Tale of two roads. Between Mazatlan and Durango you have two amazing roads to choose from. The MEX 40 or the 40D. the 40 is free, old, twisty, takes 7 to 8 hours to ride. Alternatively, the 40D is new, fast, has 115 bridges (one of them being the highest suspension bridge in the Americas) and 61 tunnels. The project to built 40D costed a small fortune.
You can easily jump between roads on the journey, so you choose your pace and experience. More details on the roads from Dangerous Roads.
Between Mazatlan (State of Sinola) and Durango (State of Durnago)
MEX 40 El espinazo del diablo (The devils backbone) is a famous mountain road in Mexico. Located between Mazatlan on the west coast of mainland Mexico and Durango, which lies east of the Sierra Madre Mountains, this road is known by locals and internationally for its hairpins and zigzags turns. The road lies almost entirely over 2.000 meters above the sea level.
Some sections of MEX 40 are narrow with lots of curves (around 2.000). Despite of many cautionary tales about crossing the devils backbone, El Espinazo del Diablo, is exceptionally well maintained and there are many cautionary signs marking most of the hazards.
There are some versions of the name given to the area. One says that the impressive ravines deployed on both sides of the road allow to see the devil. Local legend says that when the Archangel Michael threw the devil from heaven and he landed here on earth, his backbone formed the rugged ridgeline of the Sierra Madres. The road has had a bad reputation for many reasons: it’s accident-prone and hundreds of people have died on it, these mountains have historically been remote and inaccessible enough that they are used for growing marijuana and poppies, and therefore, there has been a lot of crime in these mountains related to drug trafficking. The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. This road is so curvy and twisted that it takes 7-8 hours to cross (that’s an average speed of 20 mph or less). It is the only place to cross the Sierra Madres for more than 500 miles.
MEX 40D – New Toll Road (Cuota) In 2013, the MEX 40D was opened. This highway, is 140-miles-long, has 115 bridges and 61 tunnels and costed $2.2 billion.
The most spectacular part of the drive is the Baluarte Bridge (Puente Baluarte). It’s the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the third-highest bridge overall and the highest bridge in the Americas. It’s a record-breaking 1124 meters, width – 20 meters, and its height above the canyon is 403 meters.
When is the best time to Ride?
All year round. Winter months may add icy roads and heavy fog to the ride.
Why is it an ‘Epic Ride’
The roads are among the most famous in Mexico, and rightly so. It’s amazing to jump between roads and enjoy the altitude shift from sea level to some of the most stunning mountains in Mexico. Tunnels, bridges, thousands of curves and relatively low traffic. Doesn’t get much better than this.
The Baluarte bridge is on the newer 40D road and has a total length of 1,124 m (3,688 ft) with a central cable-stayed span of 520 m (1,710 ft) With the road deck at 403 m (1,322 ft) above the valley below, the Baluarte Bridge is the third-highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the seventh-highest bridge overall and the highest bridge in the Americas.
Mirador El Espinazo Del Diablo (The Devils Backbone viewpoint)
This Viewpoint exists on MEX 40 here and allows riding to stop and take in the amazing views of the mountains. No doubt when you then you’ll find many other bikes enjoying the rest stop.
It is also where you can get a photo near the Ruta 666 sign.