pixel

Matomi Falls: A Baja Quest
By David Kier

Matomi Falls: A Baja Quest

Article and photos by David Kier

Matomi Falls
Matomi Falls

On one of my early childhood trips to Baja California with my folks, we stopped in at Arnold’s Del Mar Café in San Felipe. The year was probably 1966 or 1967 and Arnold was providing us with ideas of places to explore with our Jeep Wagoneer.

One of the places Arnold said would interest us was the waterfall in Matomí Canyon, thirty-some miles up the long desert dry wash beginning about ten miles north of Puertecitos. Arnold marked the location in my dad’s copy of the Lower California Guidebook. He described a waterfall that dropped into a large boulder that had a depression the size of swimming pool on top.

As we were solo travelers, a second vehicle was recommended but not available on our trips. Matomí would have to wait for me to grow up and go on my own. The place was always a Baja fantasy location since hearing Arnold’s description.

On high school and college vacations I spent many days camping south of San Felipe and exploring the dirt roads and dry washes that headed to the mountains. A (once) little-known road connected the sulfur mine south of San Felipe with Valle Chico and the canyons of the San Pedro Mártir mountain range. The road is in a pass named Cañada el Parral on topo maps. It is also called Azufre Wash by SCORE and called “Crazy Horse Canyon” by some locals. In 1978, I used this road and made it across the coastal mountain range. While we were just four miles north of Matomí Canyon where that road connected with the Valle Chico road, the lack of remaining daylight left no room for exploration.

Matomi Flash Flood
In 1978 a Matomí flash flood nearly took my Subaru!

A few weeks later, I returned to the same junction but turned south this time towards Matomí. A ranch house was located where the Valle Chico road dropped into Matomí Canyon and there I met Tomás Dowling who informed me of his second ranch, about five miles up the canyon. He got in my four-wheel-drive Subaru wagon and we headed up the arroyo. Maybe a mile short of his other ranch, a flash flood blocked our way! I turned back and at the previous arroyo crossing, the water was already there. As I began to cross, the Subaru bogged down and I was stuck. With water rising and nearly into the doorway, I analyzed that it was sand I was stuck in and reached underwater to my valve stems and let air out, as we do for any sand driving. It worked, and I didn’t lose my little car to the flash flood of Arroyo Matomí.

The following June, with another vehicle along, I returned and made it to the upper Matomí ranch house, visited with Tomás, and asked about the waterfall. There were six of us, all very hot and worn-out from the long drive, and saw no sign of water at his ranch other than Matomi Falls Pool
In June of 1979 my friends and I enjoyed the oasis of Matomí.
some blue palm trees nearby. Tomás said the waterfall was just down a path from his corral. There we indeed found a summer Shangri-La complete with waterfall. It wasn’t quite what I had envisioned from Arnold’s story twelve years earlier, but it worked to keep my new friends from being disappointed! I had described to them an oasis paradise, earlier at our beach camp on that hot June day.

In the 1980s, an ejido built a 4.2-mile-long fence across the southern part of Valle Chico, cutting off the old road from the sulfur mine just as it entered Valle Chico. The fence line road was now the route to or from the sulfur mine and that fence has mostly vanished in recent years.

I have returned to the Matomí waterfall oasis a few times between 1979 and 2006. Tomás was long since gone on my last visit and the nobody was there that day. A straight section of the road just east of the ranch had served as an airstrip. Tomás had mentioned he was hired as a bighorn sheep hunting guide. Hunters flew into that strip back in the day.

David Kier at Matomi Falls
The author enjoying a swim in 2001.

The road in Arroyo Matomí is sometimes not passable after flash floods, however it was recently utilized by SCORE for the 2016 San Felipe 250 race, after being blocked by rocks for a few years. The Valle Chico road has remained an alternative route in. A loop trip via Matomí makes an interesting back-country drive for four- wheel-drive vehicles. Rocks in the upper few miles of Arroyo Matomí and deep sand in the rest of the arroyo down to Highway 5 are the toughest off road conditions of the trip. The Valle Chico east road all the way to San Felipe is mostly a fast, graded road.

You can check out my last Matomí trip that went in from Highway 5 and out via Valle Chico as well as other Baja adventure trips on the Viva Baja website.

Matomi Map Route
My 1988 edition of the three routes to Rancho Matomí: Valle Chico, Parral, and Arroyo Matomí.


























About David

David Kier is a veteran Baja traveler, author of 'Baja California - Land Of Missions' and co-author of 'The Old Missions of Baja and Alta California 1697-1834'. Visit The Old Missions website.

4.7 162 Reviews
  • user logo
    Jeff Dippel
    From logo

    Honestly their app is so fantastic and saves all my info I can literally buy the same insurance for my Baja trips in less than 45 seconds...

  • user logo
    George
    From logo

    Excellent customer service

  • user logo
    Marilyn Moore Gianetti
    From logo

    Easy to renew, offers the best coverage for me to feel comfortable while driving in Mexico.

  • user logo
    robert
    From logo

    If you are going to Mexico Baja Bound is excellent. Buy online, good price, good quality. Fast and efficient.

  • user logo
    Rivera Jose
    From logo

    Quick easy to navigate website

  • user logo
    Chyla Nava
    From logo

    Great, easy to use service. I haven't had to file a claim (and hope I never have to) but the online portal is very easy to use, and it's...

  • user logo
    RaMon McBride
    From logo

    I have not had any claims thus far so rating is based on ease of purchase.

  • user logo
    robert kepper
    From logo

    They are very good . There website doesn't show you need a title to bring a vehicle across the border.I was stopped and told I had to...

  • user logo
    Steve Bender
    From logo

    Have never needed to use the insurance fortunately but the website always works great. Can buy a policy in about a minute.

  • user logo
    Cyndee Congrove
    From logo

    Great customer service, quick, friendly staff helpfully answered all questions, very patient with my learning curve on a new product. Would...

  • user logo
    Dennis Rogers Viejo Loco Chingon
    From logo

    Mexican Insurance made easy, I have used Baja Bound Mexican Insurance for all most 5 years, price and ease is great, luckily I have never...

  • user logo
    Rail1riders
    From logo

    Quick, easy, well designed website and not just for Baja. Good rates for temporal residente gringos. We’re now living in Jalisco. Printed...

  • user logo
    Gary Counts
    From logo

    So convenient and easy to navigate thru the online process. I'll never use any other Mexican insurance service!

  • user logo
    Nicolas Dervé
    From logo

    Very good ans very fast. We hope all will ben good if we need it.

  • user logo
    Mark Sokol
    From logo

    Easy to obtain, good quality, auto insurance for Mexico.

  • user logo
    Juan Zavala
    From logo

    Excellent

  • user logo
    Robert Goody Good Real Estate Mesquite Nevada
    From logo

    Thank goodness never had to use this. Great interactive website to huy.

  • user logo
    Kenneth Trass
    From logo

    Getting a policy was simple, Provided more than provider for price comparison.

  • user logo
    Charles Gee
    From logo

    Incredibly fast and painless. Paid about $180 for a month of coverage. It was easier than going on line.

  • user logo
    Jose Paez
    From logo

    Had a great experience getting insurance at Baja Bound, before I always stoped at the border to purchase my insurance, not anymore. By the...

  • user logo
    Aj
    From logo

    Reasonable prices and we thought best chance to actually get results if we needed them.

  • user logo
    Stephen Graham
    From logo

    Super simple, inexpensive, easy to work with, amicable and great communication

  • user logo
    benjamin bakke
    From logo

    Easy insurance for peace of mind

  • user logo
    Benjamin Driebe
    From logo

    Absolutely fantastic, I already forgot her name because I have a terrible memory but the woman that helped me on the phone was wonderful,...

  • user logo
    Art Eugenio
    From logo

    I've had Baja Bound insurance for more that ten years now with thousands of miles logged in Baja. Fortunately, I've only had one fender...

  • user logo
    Rebecca Newell
    From logo

    Great service!

  • user logo
    JUSTINE SERRANO
    From logo

    I purchased insurance through them & CHUBB for our trip to San Felipe. Unfortunately, we had to cancel due to our vehicle having an oil...

  • user logo
    Roberto Garcia
    From logo

    Easy and fast in less than 10 minutes you could have insurance for Mexico. I have used them for about 8 years already.

  • user logo
    Darrin Baxter
    From logo

    I recently purchased insurance for my trip with Baja Bound because of their reputation and reviews. Easy enough to purchase and print...

  • user logo
    Benny Marquez
    From logo

    Great company and they use CHUBB which is a top notch insurance company.We got our policy online 30min before crossing the border and were...

  • user logo
    don letson
    From logo

    Great renewal process, if only south Dakota would do the same for car registration.

  • user logo
    Mike Dahl
    From logo

    Signing up for policies is super easy. Never had a claim and hope I don't have to. But the service and process was fast and good.

  • user logo
    Larry French
    From logo

    By far the best service for Mex insurance in Baja. They are personally there for you if you have problems south of the border.

  • user logo
    Larry Cottingham
    From logo

    Great service, very helpful people there.

  • user logo
    james whitmer
    From logo

    Best insurance I've had so far

  • user logo
    Ryan Frisby
    From logo

    We use them every time we travel to Mexico. Luckily we have not needed their services yet but getting insurance through them is quick and...

  • user logo
    Jay Ross
    From logo

    Super easy to sign up for insurance for both our Truck and Four Wheel Pop-Up camper. We had no issues while driving south of the boarder......

  • user logo
    Gabe Matthews
    From logo

    Where do i start..... you dont know you have good insurance until you have to actually use it. I have had Baja Bound INS for over 5 years...

  • user logo
    Howard M Elster
    From logo

    2nd year with Chubb. No problems

  • user logo
    JohnPaul Gemelli
    From logo

    Baja Bound could not have made it an easier ... also, I made a mistake and called them having to leave a message ... but, they called back...

  • user logo
    Jan Muhammad
    From logo

    I need a tourist visa for maxico I'm from pakistan help me sir

  • user logo
    John Ellis
    From logo

    A very easy to use website and good selection and rates. In the 10 years I have travelled in Baja, this is the only site I have used.

  • user logo
    len buckholtz
    From logo

    SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD. OLD GUYS LIKE THAT. WILL DEFINITELY USE IN 6 MONTHS IF STILL RUNNING AROUND THE WILDS OF BAJA.

  • user logo
    Maria Elena Smith
    From logo

    Easy and affordable.

  • user logo
    Blake Glassco
    From logo

    I will never drive south of the border without Baja Bound in my center console. I was in an accident a couple hours south of Ensenada and...

  • user logo
    Lourdes Montoya
    From logo

    Easy, fast, and affordable.

  • user logo
    Jolene Bibian
    From logo

    Shauna at Baja Bound was AWESOME!! We had specific questions about how to quote the policy based on our vehicle type and she was super...

  • user logo
    Isi Soto
    From logo

    Easy to get and the price is right

  • user logo
    Tracy Moore
    From logo

    Very easy, quick, and professional

  • user logo
    Jason Ware
    From logo

    Easy to buy Mexico car insurance from and good service

  • user logo
    Sengoz N
    From logo

    SERIOUS.

  • user logo
    Luis Cortes
    From logo

    Easiest way to purchase insurance when traveling to Mexico. I have used their service for the last 7 years and it only gets easier and...

  • user logo
    Susana Judd
    From logo

    Easy, quick and fair prices. Easy to deal with if needed.

  • user logo
    Joey Digiovanni
    From logo

    Easy to work with 😉. Always courteous and helpful. Have used them for all trips to Mexico. Easy website to navigate

  • user logo
    Juan Zuniga
    From logo

    I just would like to know if you guys are going to update the fastpass direction any soon, during the month of January the lane changed to...

  • user logo
    Colin
    From logo

    Super-easy and instant. Very happy with initial purchase.

  • user logo
    Angie Rodriguez
    From logo

    I wish every company was as easy to deal with as Baja Bound. I ended up staying in Baja longer than expected and it took a 3 minute phone...

  • user logo
    Nereyda Torres
    From logo

    Me gusta la asuguranza porque la puedes comprar por un dia y te asegura en Mexico por el tiempo que vas ya sea hasta por mes (Translated...

  • user logo
    Supercalifragilistic Expialadosious
    From logo

    Thank God I had a safe trip but it did have me at peace knowing I was fully covered. The staff were friendly and very helpful.

  • user logo
    Daniel “Dan M” Markofsky
    From logo

    Third time working with Baja Bound and they made it easy! Thanks!

  • user logo
    Refugio I. Rochin
    From logo

    Excellent online and by direct phone. Spanish and English with proven response to questions. Website is very informative about driving in...

  • user logo
    Kierian Kuklok
    From logo

    I have been a customer for years and when I really needed them they stepped up in every way. I had a freak accident to my car and they...

  • user logo
    Pim Handgraaf
    From logo

    Great company. unlike their competitors, Baja Bound answers the phone and you're talking to a real person. Highly reccomend!

  • user logo
    Jeff Brandt
    From logo

    so far so good, however I have read good things about them

  • user logo
    Esther Valencia
    From logo

    Super easy to purchase just the coverage you need when crossing the border in your own car. I especially appreciate the fact that I was...

  • user logo
    j dougher ty
    From logo

    Great service, EZ and reasonbably priced. Been using Baja Bound for many years now. Great company and people!

  • user logo
    Cesar Lopez
    From logo

    Very convenient, great price !!

  • user logo
    Tony Vigil
    From logo

    My wife and I were in Baja the 1st week of October. Insurance through Baja Bound was quick and easy. Thank you

  • user logo
    Jose Feliciano
    From logo

    Hola exelente serbicio rapido ya no pierdo tienpò esperando en Ningun otro lado ...lo ago. En linia cuando voy de Camino y ya .... ...

  • user logo
    richard colman
    From logo

    This is an update to my previous review. Baja Bound, unbidden on my part, reached out to me to assist. They coordinated a contact with...

  • user logo
    Kellye Pummill
    From logo

    Fast and easy!

  • user logo
    richard carr
    From logo

    fast replies and great price!

  • user logo
    Jeff Bunker
    From logo

    Great coverage options . Price buy and print policy , very quick and easy , highly recommend them when driving in Mexico

  • user logo
    Edilver Martinez
    From logo

    Our go to Baja car insurance, everytime we take a visit down south . Usually it's for a day trip either for a quick getaway with the family...

  • user logo
    jos en elly balemans - wouters
    From logo

    We were trying to get an insurance for our RV in Mexico, we come from Europe and we drive with Belgium license plates. I tried a lot of...

  • user logo
    Jennifer Toups
    From logo

    Baja Bound is and has been my go to Mexico insurance company. The website is extremely easy to use, keeps all your info for a quick...

  • user logo
    Kelly Carney
    From logo

    Yara is very helpful and explains everything. Love working with companies like this.

  • user logo
    Jeff G
    From logo

    Went down to TJ June 11 2020 No problems going into TJ but the way back was a ordeal 6 hours in line to get back into the USA but no...

  • user logo
    masa SAL.
    From logo

    Good seevice have use baja bound for many years good price....

  • user logo
    Mehdi Fahid
    From logo

    I reapplied for my Baja Bound Mexican car Insurance yesterday and I spoke to Ms. Shauna. This lady processed my application quickly and...

  • user logo
    John I. Mitchell
    From logo

    Professional and affordable.

  • user logo
    Andreas Hansen
    From logo

    Was planning to go to Mexico, but unfortunately my bike broke down. Got very friendly and fast service from Rigo. A full refund within back...

  • user logo
    Paul Niehouse
    From logo

    Extremely easy to acquire a policy. Many options available. Reasonable rates.

  • user logo
    Teresa Stricker
    From logo

    Great service and prices!

  • user logo
    Slumdog Gump
    From logo

    Changed some money. Good rate and friendly people.

  • user logo
    Mariano Velazquez
    From logo

    Baja Bound is #1. They make getting Baja Mexico insurance a pleasure.

  • user logo
    Kyle Spahn
    From logo

    I have used Baja Bound for years. Very easy and affordable.

  • user logo
    Adrianna Dorsey
    From logo

    Great company, great prices, and even better customer service. We've lived in Baja for 7 years and have used them for the past 6years....

  • user logo
    Richard Schweiger
    From logo

    Very professional, very helpful, great policy, I couldn't be happier with Baja Mexican Insurance, the friendly smiles and ease of it all in...

  • user logo
    Phil Noble
    From logo

    If you’re looking for Mexican Insurance that you can trust and feel good about while traveling in Mexico, you’ve found the right place....

  • user logo
    Mike Oveson
    From logo

    Baja Bound made it SO EASY to purchase insurance for our one week trip to Tijuana. I would definitely use them again for future trips and...

  • user logo
    Tudor Thomas
    From logo

    Baja Bound makes buying insurance for going south of the border as easy as it gets. The website is the easiest I have used and the staff...

  • user logo
    Edward Ramos
    From logo

    Great service, quick response time.

  • user logo
    Matt B
    From logo

    I always use Baja Bound to source my insurance while traveling to Mexico. Fortunately, I have not had to file any claims. I do appreciate...

  • user logo
    Christian Minor
    From logo

    Team were on point, provided inside information, prices were great and they had my proposal already in the system when I called back....

  • user logo
    Ryan Perkio
    From logo

    I have been using BajaBound Insurance for 15 years - multiple trips per year. Their website is easy, their coverage is great, and the...

  • user logo
    keith berkley
    From logo

    Been going to baja for 45 years. This is best insurance company i have come accross.

  • user logo
    Louis Schneidman
    From logo

    I had an awesome experience with Baja Bound. Family owned and highly personal, top notch customer service. I have total peace of mind...

  • user logo
    Seismic Waterfinder
    From logo

    Very excellent service, needed insurance for Mexico, price was fair. The custumer service rep was Yara