Article and photos by David Kier
The Magic Peninsula of Baja California never ceases to amaze with the fun and interesting sites to be seen and experienced.
Using the Baja Cactus Motel in El Rosario as a base, we made a loop trip in the country to the northeast. It had been something I wanted to do ever since I learned about a road in 1973 that wasn’t on any of my maps. The road was used for the 1973 Baja 500 in order to avoid the new highway construction around El Rosario. It has since been used a few times by SCORE for Baja races.
I opted to run the 105 mile loop counter-clockwise, and it was a perfect way to go. In recent years of wet weather, the El Socorro side of the road is used more by motorcycles than 4 wheel drives. A high ground clearance 4WD with locking differential or traction control is recommended for travel beyond Mile 26 and especially beyond Petroglyph Park.
Top your gas tank in El Rosario and set your trip odometer to 0 at the Pemex. Take Highway 1 southbound for 28.5 miles and turn left at the restaurant between Km. 103 and 104 (may be signed ‘Los Martires’). Reset odometer to 0 upon leaving Highway 1.
Just north of the restaurant is a long clearing that was once the ‘El Arenoso’ airstrip, used during highway construction, back in 1973. The military has installed ditches on the runway to discourage its use. The road passes several copper mine pits for a few miles before crossing a rare desert river! We saw many ducks there in the summer.
Some of the best boojum (Cirio) forests in Baja are along this road... wonderful scenery! The discovery of petroglyphs where we parked for lunch was just a great Baja moment. A natural spring starts a creek at this spot, as well. Beyond Petroglyph Park, the road really deteriorates and may not be passable to larger vehicles. It is 20 difficult miles from Petroglyph Park to Highway 1 at El Socorro. Simply go back if the road ahead is gone or if you aren’t sure. A companion vehicle would be wise in this area.
Directions To Petroglyph Park:
Mile 0.0 Hwy. 1/ Los Martires Road (Km. 103+)
Mile 2.5 Fork, go left.
Mile 3.6 El Sauzalito Copper Mine center ruins on the left, curve right.
Mile 4.9 Cross San Juan de Dios River
Mile 5.2 Fork, go right (left is an old road back to El Rosario via La Vibora)
Mile 5.4 Fork, go left (right goes to San Juan de Dios and El Metate)
Mile 11.7 Fork, go right (left goes to Rancho Los Martires)
Mile 13.5 Cross Arroyo Los Martires
Mile 13.7 Road in from left to Rancho Los Martires
Mile 21.3 Major Fork, just north of Arroyo El Portezuelo, go left (right goes to San Miguel, Nuevo, La Suerte)
Mile 26.1 Fork, go left (right is Rancho Pozo Nuevo) ONLY 4WD RECOMMENDED BEYOND HERE, no more inhabited ranches along the road.
Mile 27.8 Bulldozed switchback grade to the top of the ridge
Mile 31.9 Fork, go left (right goes to Nuevo and La Suerte)
Mile 32.6 Junction with El Socorro to La Suerte road. Turn left (west)
Mile 33.2 Road north to El Agua Escondida, a second road from there is passed ahead.
Mile 37.0 Petroglyph Park: Boulders carved by long vanished tribes who lived in Baja for hundreds of years.
Mile 39.2 Fork, go left (right goes 1 mile to blue palms and beyond)
Mile 41.2 Road south to El Canuto, continue west
Mile 43.3 El Cipres, abandoned ranch and well
Mile 49.4 Fork, go left (right goes to Nuevo Odisea on Hwy. 1)
Mile 54.8 Road in from left is to Tres Palmas
Mile 54.9 Old road north to Nueva Odisea
Mile 55.5 Junction with road along south side of valley, turn right
Mile 57.1 Highway 1 at Km. 24/25 near El Socorro. El Rosario is 20 miles south.