Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cañon de Guadalupe

We left a little late and had to made two stops. First, I forgot to purchase Mexican auto insurance as required by law and couldn't print a policy at home since we don't have a printer. Thus, we had to stop by my office at the university. Second, Julie found a listing for a piece of furniture and we had to detour through Sedona. I had hoped to get to our camp site by 4 PM but that didn't happen.

We stopped in Calexico, filled up on gas, bought a block of ice for the cooler and then drove a few blocks south to the border crossing. There were five lanes and we were waved through without stopping. The directions indicated we should take Guadalajara five miles south then turn west on Mexico route two. Perhaps there is a Guadalajara in Mexicali but we never found it. Our approach was watch the sun, drive south a couple miles, turn west a couple miles then turn south and watch for the road to Tecate or Tijuana. Since we don't understand Spanish and didn't have a map it seemed like a good plan. We found the road but lost it due to a construction detour. More navigating by the sun and a couple of kind residents and we found it again.

The turnoff to Guadalupe Canyon is about 15 miles west of Mexicali. By the time we found the turn the sun was behind the mountains to the west. We took a graded road at the foot of the mountains beside a dry lake bed. How far? We didn't know. The directions said the last seven miles were rough. I had read something that mentioned 50 miles total so I assume it might be about 35 miles.

I've driven longer unpaved roads but never a rougher road. It was rocky, sandy and seeemingly endless washboards. Since the gate would be locked at 8PM I pushed my speed. 30 MPH was rough. In the dark we encountered one dry wash that crossed the road which sent us airborne.

Out of the dark we saw stone mountains close on each side of the road and suddenly we were in Guadalupe Canyon on the roughest stretch. Our vehicle is 11 years old with 225,000 miles on the odometer and has a book value of $1,500. It was a fun, low stress, memorable adventure of a trip. Don't try it with a low clearance expensive car. Don't try it with a dually pickup. There are some tight spots that would be impossible.

On our return we took a path across the lake bed. The directions had warned about attempting this route in the dark. It was good advice. At the hot springs we asked for better directions to find our way back through Mexicali. It sounded easy. Back into town on route two, watch for the sign pointing to Calexico and drive north until "you come to the great wall of Mexico". Yes, we meandered around again and saw the sights of Mexicali a second time.

Would I make this trip again? Definitely!

Map of the area from Cañon de Guadalupe to Mexacali and Calexico.
Map of the area from Cañon de Guadalupe to Mexacali and Calexico. (Larger version)

A view of an area on the last seven miles of road.
A view of an area on the last seven miles of road. (Larger version)

The view from our hot tub.
The view from our hot tub looking down canyon toward the dry lake bed. (Larger version)

Driving across dry Laguna Salada.
Driving across dry Laguna Salada toward the road to Mexacali. Laguna Salada is a large lake approximately 37 miles long and 11 miles wide. During dry times the water collects on the eastern side and the dry bed is used for travel. (Larger version)

We walked up canyon to find this small waterfall that spills into a large pool of water that would be refreshing in hot weather. (Larger version)

Julie made a teasing face at me as she climbed down near the waterfall. (Larger version)

Looking down canyon.
Looking down canyon toward the campground and the dry lake. (Larger version)

Road crossing stream.
Just before arriving at the campground the road crosses the stream and then makes a hard left turn. I took this photo while standing with my back to a solid stone wall about 15 or 20 feet high. (Larger version)

Reading in the shade.
Reading in the shade. Julie took "The Time Traveler's Wife", I took "Operation Iceberg" and we both took "Stumbling on Happiness" to read together while driving. We walked to the end of the canyon and climbed about 60 feet up the stone hill behind Julie to have lunch. It was Julie's suggestion and I thought she wanted a better view of the dry lake. As soon as we got to a level area near the top she took out the cell phone to check for signal to call and check on the cats. No signal. (Larger version)

The end of the stream.
The water springing from the canyon collected into a fairly large stream. The campground pulled water from the springs for the hot tubs, irrigation, showers and flush toilets. All of the water was returned to the environment. After flowing about two miles the stream diminished and disappeared into the sand. (Larger version)

Our palapa. The hot tub is to the right of the post holding towels. The edge of our tent is behind the post. (Larger version)

Julie in the hot tub.
Julie in the hot tub waiting for the sun to rise. Every camp site has a private hot tub. (Larger version)


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


Another "adventure notch" for your life belt.

Caption for the last photo: Time Separation.


1/21/2010 04:58:00 AM  

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