pixel

Baja Travel Adventures
By David Kier

El Triunfo de la Cruz and Mission Guadalupe

By David Kier

Mission Guadalupe sign

The Jesuits had begun the colonization process in California, a land many considered to be an island. Missions were founded at Loreto, San Javier, Ligüí, Mulegé, and Comondú between 1697 and 1708. The need for supplies from Mexico, across the gulf, were greater than ever. Until the missions could become fully sustainable agricultural centers, food and equipment had to come across the sometimes-treacherous Gulf of California.

The ships available to the missionaries were hardly sea worthy and many never reached the opposite shore or navigation took many times longer and supplies often arrived spoiled. The leading Jesuit in California at the time was Juan de Ugarte, he was in charge at San Javier and quite the force in keeping the five missions operating. The Jesuits would obtain ships in Mexico and then they would sink. A good ship was going to be the most important tool to continue the California mission program. Padre Ugarte was determined to have one built to the highest standards and was seeking sources of lumber in Mexico when his Indian neophytes told him a great stand of tall trees in the mountains west of Mulegé. In September 1719, Ugarte, with the shipbuilder, soldiers, and Indians investigated. The güéribo trees (a type of poplar) grow tall and straight and would make fine timbers for Ugarte’s ship. Trees were chopped and oxen used to bring the logs to Mulegé where the ship was built.

Mission Guadalupe wall

English shipbuilder William Strafford oversaw the construction and on September 14, 1720, the ship that Padre Ugarte named El Triunfo de la Cruz, was launched. In November, the ship was used by Ugarte and Padre Jaime Bravo to establish a mission at La Paz. The next year, El Triunfo de la Cruz sailed to the Colorado Delta to prove to Ugarte that California was not an island. This fact had been proven in 1539, 1540, and 1700, but the romantic notion that California was an island would continue for decades.

The land where the güéribo trees were cut was known as Huasinapí and the Cochimí Indians asked if they could have their own mission. German Jesuit, Padre Everaldo Hellen had recently learned the Cochimí language and was sent into the mountains to establish the eighth California mission. Founded on December 26, 1720, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe de Huasinapí, began in a most rugged and remote mountain valley. There was no land for crops beyond small garden plots. The raising of goats was the greatest success here. Padre Helen reached out to Indians all over these mountains and converted 1,707 to Christianity by 1726.

Mission Guadalupe steps

A 1744 report by the Jesuit Visitador General, Juan Antonio Baltasar, said Mission Guadalupe had “the finest church in California.” Shortly after Baltasar’s visit, a storm had blown over the church wall and killed 100 neophytes seeking shelter inside. The adobe walls were replaced with more stone for support in 1750.

The population declined to 544 when the Franciscans replaced the Jesuits here in 1768. In just five more years, the Dominicans replaced the Franciscans in Baja California and the Guadalupe population was down to just 169. In 1795, the mission was closed and the remaining 74 native Indians were moved to La Purísima. If not for the many letters and reports made by the missionaries, this remote mission may have easily been lost to time. Mainland Mexicans came to Baja California in the mid-1800s, as well as Spanish soldiers who stayed on the peninsula after 1822, would begin to farm and ranch the former mission lands.

Until about 25 years ago, you had to ride a mule for several hours to see Mission Guadalupe. Located on California’s El Camino Real, between Loreto and San Ignacio, Guadalupe is in one very rugged valley. The government bulldozed a road to it from San José de Magdalena but the hurricanes of recent years totally wiped away that road. The option below is passable, but not for those in a hurry!

Mission Guadalupe corner wall

MULEGE TO MISSION GUADALUPE, 40.5 miles, 4 hours.

ROAD LOG:

Total / Partial Miles

0.0 0.0 Hwy. 1 Mulegé, Km. 135.5 Take concrete street going west, known locally as the “Ice Road” as it passes an ice plant.

1.1 / 1.1 End of pavement

2.4 / 1.3 Construction equipment yard, continue west.

2.7 / 0.3 Fork. Ahead is the original road, but rocky. Left (south) is an alternate.

5.1 / 2.4 Cattle Guard

6.0 / 0.9 The alternate road junctions in from left.

8.3 / 2.3 Rancho Trinidad junction, south (small sign). Take right fork.

11.1 / 2.8 Rancho Trinidad junction, south (big signs). Continue west.

Mission Guadalupe view

The road enters a canyon and begins a steep climb with one concrete section of road.

24.6 / 13.5 Rancho El Aguajito

25.0 / 0.4 La Ballena Fork. Turn north for Guadalupe. Big signs. Ahead goes to San Miguel and on to the Pacific side of the peninsula.

25.8 / 0.8 Gate (always reclose behind you)

34.1 / 8.3 Fork. Go right. Left to ranch.

34.7 / 0.6 Gate.

36.9 / 2.2 Gate.

40.0 / 3.1 Road west. Once was passable to San Ignacio via Las Tunas and El Patrocinio. Inquire locally for conditions.

40.1 / 0.1 Gate.

40.5 / 0.4 EX-MISION de GUADALUPE sign, turn left, cross arroyo, park near gate on the right.

The gate was wired shut, but no signs were posted. The road beyond the gate was going to have some concrete pillars along it leading to the possible museum structure at the end of the road. The project was abandoned. The mission ruins are just north and west, uphill of the cinder block building area. Take your time and make discoveries. As with all historical sites, take only photos and leave only footprints. If you are not comfortable going through the fence, seek a guide at one of the nearby ranches.

The road traveled from Mulegé continues north, past the ‘Ex-Mision’ sign. The road straight from here goes to Rancho La Presa at Mile 40.7 and ends. Before the ranch, at Mile 40.6 is a right fork that climbs a hill and is the washed-out road that once went to San José de Magdalena, not passable after 1 mile. A photo opportunity of the mission area is available just up this road.

About David

David Kier is a veteran Baja traveler and the co-author of 'The Old Missions of Baja and Alta California: 1697-1834. David Kier’s research on the twenty-seven missions of Baja California was recently published in a new comprehensive book. Visit The Old Missions website for additional information.

4.7 93 Reviews
  • 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
    richard carr
    From logo

    fast replies and great price!

  • 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
    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
    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
    Jan Muhammad
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Tracy Moore
    From logo

    Very easy, quick, and professional

  • 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
    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
    Daniel Markofsky
    From logo

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

  • 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
    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
    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
    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
    Joey Digiovanni
    From logo

    Easy to work with 😉. Always courteous and helpful

  • user logo
    George
    From logo

    Excellent customer service

  • user logo
    Kellye Pummill
    From logo

    Fast and easy!

  • 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
    Cesar Lopez
    From logo

    Very convenient, great price !!

  • 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
    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
    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
    Burrell DeVine
    From logo

    Easy to navigate and very competitively priced! I had to call in and add an additional day, they couldn't have been any more pleasant to...

  • 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
    james whitmer
    From logo

    Best insurance I've had so far

  • user logo
    Rail1riders
    From logo

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

  • 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
    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
    Kelly Carney
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Slumdog Gump
    From logo

    Changed some money. Good rate and friendly people.

  • 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
    don letson
    From logo

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

  • 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
    Susana Judd
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Seismic Waterfinder
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Nicolas Dervé
    From logo

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

  • 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
    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
    Jeff Brandt
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Sengoz N
    From logo

    SERIOUS.

  • user logo
    Kenneth Trass
    From logo

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

  • 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
    Larry Cottingham
    From logo

    Great service, very helpful people there.

  • 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
    j dougher ty
    From logo

    EZ Peasy insurance purchase. Great service every time I've used them. Had to cancel one time when my travel plans went away - no problem....

  • user logo
    Paul Niehouse
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Colin
    From logo

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

  • user logo
    Howard M Elster
    From logo

    2nd year with Chubb. No problems

  • 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
    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
    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
    keith berkley
    From logo

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

  • 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
    RaMon McBride
    From logo

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

  • 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
    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...