In December of 2004, the road was in good condition down to La
Paz, with the exception of a few areas which have not been
fully repaired following damage from the two hurricanes which passed
through the sourthern state in September of 2003.
Where the highway passes through Vizcaino and San Ignacio there are a number
of potholes. Unannounced topes in both places will hold your speed down, so
the potholes should not require any unusual level of caution.
Click photo for
a larger image
Click photo for
a larger image
One construction project which is becoming more evident is the
"Land Bridge" destined to provide a truck route for boats between
Santa Rosalillita (Pacific side) and Pta. La Gringa (Gulf side
above Bahia de Los Angeles).
Work has been half completed on the section from Route 1
out to Santa Rosalillita (report from Tom Wimberly - September 2001).
I've added a photo of the promotional sign posted in early 2002
near the intersection of Highway 1 and the road to Santa Rosalillita.
(December 2004: the sign is now a blank piece of plywood.)
The photo of the road shows the completed section at Route 1,
facing west towards Santa Rosalillita.
For those traveling south on Highway 1, you'll find an amazing
number of road signs announcing the distance to "Escalera
Nautica" - and when you finally arrive, there is only the
promotional sign sign to indicate any activity.
For those who don't have the time to drive down Highway 1, you
can check up on the Escalera Nautica at a website:
(Note: as of 2005, all indications are that this project has
Topes - Reductores (Speed Bumps):
In 2004 many of the topes in Baja California were relabeled as
reductores - the typcial sign being "Reductor de
Velocidad." In some cases new signs were up which did not
seem as strong a statement that a speed bump was coming up.
Here's my count of topes on Highway 1 as of May 2004:
- Santo Tomás (2 "gentle")
- Santo Tomás - San Quintin (several new topes in the towns)
- El Rosario (2 "gentle")
- Vizcaino (2 unmarked)
- San Ignacio (2 at east end -- poorly marked)
- Santa Rosalia (7 -- 4 "gentle" and 3 "sharp" -- some unmarked)
- Mulegé (4 -- most unmarked)
- Loreto (2 -- "gentle" - exercise caution while northbound!)
- Constitución (4 -- 2 to the north and 2 to the south -- "gentle")
- N. Entrance to La Paz (just before the airport turnoff) (4 "gentle")
- S. Entrance to La Paz (more than 1 -- "gentle")
- San Pedro (south of La Paz) (at least 6 -- "gentle")
Note that some of these speed bumps have no warning
markings! There may be a sign announcing an area of
topes, but nothing marking the individual bumps, except some
faded paint on the street or the bump. The count of topes given
reflects only those topes found on the main highway - there are
often more in the towns.
Aside: As an illustration of the Universal Law of Topes, the
disappearance of some topes in Southern Baja has been
accompanied by the appearance of new topes in another part of
the world - my neighborhood in Riverside, California! Two topes
recently popped up a block from where I live, as well as about
20 that have been installed around the UCR campus. Seems like
these things are just destined to be a part of our modern life.
For several years now there has been an immigration officer
checking for Tourist Cards at the Agricultural Inspection
Station just north of Guerrero Negro. While it may be
possible to obtain a Tourist Card from the official there, I'd
not count on it. Heading south in December 2004 there were two
immigration officer present around noon. Our tourist cards were
due to expire a few days later, so we arranged to secure the
forms in the immigration trailer on the west side of the
checkpoint, and had them stamped - with only the fee to be paid
when we arrived in La Paz.
According to the laws of Mexico, you are
required to have a valid Tourist Card in hand before heading
south of Ensenada. In the event of an accident, or any other
interaction with the police, you'll likely be asked to produce a
document showing legal entry into the country.
While in La Paz in December of 2004, we heard a rumor that
distribution of tourist cards at the Ag Inspection station near
Guerrero Negro may soon be discontinued. Also, a visitor in the
RV park had waited until he arrived at the Ag Inspection station
to get his tourist card, but found no immigration officers
present. After reaching La Paz he went to the local immigration
office to secure his tourist card, and was promptly fined $200
pesos for being in La Paz without a card.
Construction Delays: When you encounter
road work going on, you can expect some delays.
Two types of "detours" are found: single-lane traffic through the
construction (either a flagman or a guiding vehicle is used);
or dual-lane traffic around the construction, using a dirt road at
the side (these can be very soft and dusty).
Note: New paving may lack any center striping - such areas
should not be driven at night.
In December 2004 there were only two construction areas of note.
Both involved bridge reconstruction between Constitucion and La
Paz. The bridges at Santa Rita and Las Pocitas are both having
the vertical supports replaced, as well as being extended
horizontally. This is a result of damage caused during Hurricane
Marty in September of 2003. The construction requires a bumpy
detour around the bridge areas - not too long, but RVs should
take it slow.
For several years, there has been someone in the Mulege Pemex
station (south of town) soliciting contributions for a drug
rehab center. This has now become a much more popular endeavor
- probably reflecting some success in these solicitations. I've
started avoiding this station, so I don't know if the
solicitations are continuing.
Think ahead as to whether or not you want to contribute. I
can't offer any information on the genuineness of these
The Pemex station in Jesus Maria has been completely renovated,
and is open for business as of December 2004.
Fuel: In December of 2004 I encountered no fuel
In June of '98, I did
encounter one fuel shortage on the trip south. The station at Vizcaino was out
of diesel fuel. This forced me into continuing on to the station
at Santa Rosalia, a station I usually try to avoid because of
their reputation as "thieves." I could have made it to
Mulegé, but wanted to play it safe.
I pulled into the Santa Rosalia station with two ideas in mind:
either get a small amount of fuel so I could reach Mulegé
with a good reserve, or fill up and watch the attendant
like a hawk. I elected for the second course of action (a
mistake in retrospect).
I made certain the pump was zeroed before pumping began and then
watched the operation closely . . . until a kid
washing the windows distracted me. When I returned to the
pumping process the attendant was moving the hose from the front
tank to the rear tank (my truck has dual tanks), and seemed to
have zeroed the pump again, except it read 80 pesos. I made him
stop until we agreed he'd pumped 80 pesos worth of fuel into the
He then filled the rear tank and went to "top off" the front
tank (not zeroing the pump in this case). The bill for the
fueling was 306 pesos, very close to what I had paid at my
previous stop in El Rosario (300 pesos) with about the same
amount of remaining fuel. I felt like it had all worked well,
and that I'd not been cheated.
After leaving the station and getting back on the highway I
switched the tank selection from the rear (now quite full) to
the front. I'd been nailed again!!! The front tank showed less
than three-quarters full. Since the price of fuel was the same,
the needed amount of fuel about the same, and the total cost
about the same, my only conclusion is that they've set the
pump(s) at Santa Rosalia to read about 15% high.
November 3, 1998. Dave Stogner has provided an
explanation of the particular scam I was subjected to. The
matter was not an inaccuracy of the pumps, but a clever use of
the "emergency stop" button.
Here is Dave's explanation:
The "emergency stop" button is pushed while you're not looking.
This resets the register to some even amount ($90, $80, etc.), and
then the attendent explains that you owe that amount and it
will be added to the amount from the remaining fillup. He must
then reset the pump by holding the button down, and at this
point you will see the register counting down by 10's to zero.
This is probably most frequently used when there are two tanks
Message: I'll continue to strongly recommend that you (and,
especially, I) avoid the Santa Rosalia Pemex station.