By Erin Dunigan
Mexico is a land of enchantment and adventure, offering travelers a diverse range of experiences waiting to be explored. For those who seek a more off-the-beaten-path adventure, the Sierra de San Pedro Martir, located about five hours south of the San Diego border, is a must visit. This mountainous region, a surprise for many, is a haven for lovers of the outdoors, offering stunning landscapes, hiking, and a chance to reconnect with nature. On a recent solo camping trip to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir, I brought along my trusty four-legged companion, Mia, for an unforgettable journey filled with rest, relaxation, and outdoor exploration.
Getting There: A Journey Within Reach
The journey to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir may seem a bit remote, but the experience is well within reach for adventurous solo travelers. As a woman traveling alone, I was cautious about venturing to remote areas in Mexico (what if something happened with my car, and I had no cell phone signal?), but this trip quickly dispelled any concerns.
The road to this natural wonderland is paved until right at the campground entrance - but it is steep and narrow in stretches once you’ve almost arrived at the park. Entering the actual camping area, the road turned to dirt and became quite rutted from the winter’s rains. Even still, my small Kia Rio made it far enough in to find the perfect campsite away from the highway and surrounded by majestic pine trees. Once you arrive, the pristine beauty of the region and the sense of seclusion will make you forget all about the fact that your car might not be able to clear the ruts to get back home.
Camping Amongst the Pines and Stars
Our (Mia’s and mine) two-night camping excursion was nothing short of magical, though it did have its challenges!
The first challenge was that, in spite of double-checking everything, my 40+ year old trusty Coleman camping stove (my family’s camping stove from my childhood growing up camping) did not actually work. After a few attempts at trying to troubleshoot it (what in the world can one troubleshoot about a camping stove?) I surrendered and realized that whatever would be cooked would have to be over the open flame.
Even still, that first night was perfect, with the crackling campfire providing not just cooking but also warmth and illumination. It was a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of daily life and a refreshing change of pace. The crackling of the fire and the whisper of the wind through the trees became my only sources of entertainment for the evening.
The second challenge came on the second night. I had begun to see clouds forming overhead as Mia and I returned from our all-day hike. I have done enough camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California to know what that kind of cloud gathering could mean - thunder and lightning - and rain. Though my tent was slightly newer than my family’s Coleman stove, it still is at least 30 years old or more. And though I have used it many times for camping trips previously, I realized, at that moment while watching the clouds gather, that I had never actually put it to the test in any kind of storm. I made sure the rain flap was tightened and the stakes were securely in the ground and moved everything unessential into the small trunk of the Kia. “If the rain gets too bad Mia and I can always curl up in the back seat of the car,” I thought to myself, with an optimism that wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence. About midnight the rain began to come down. It poured. At one point Mia rolled over and leaned against the side of the tent, sending a flood of moisture down upon her. But, aside from some lack of sleep due to the thunder and lightning, and the worrying about getting drenched, all in all we managed to stay dry and warm.
Exploring the Trails: Solo Adventures
During the day, Mia and I explored the hiking trails that wind through the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. The highlight of our adventure was reaching the mirador lookout tower, which offered breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. As we gazed out from this vantage point, it felt as though we were on top of the world.
Beyond the lookout tower, we followed the trails deeper into the wilderness, no map, no compass, no guide, just a sense of adventure and our senses heightened by the sights and sounds of nature. There's something truly remarkable about the quiet of the mountains, broken only by the chirping of birds and the rustling of leaves. It was a peaceful retreat where I could recharge and reconnect with the natural world.
Mia, was in her element, darting through the woods, chasing squirrels, and embracing her inner adventurer. Seeing her joy was as rewarding as the stunning natural surroundings.
An Empowering Experience
My camping trip to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir was an empowering experience that I won't soon forget. It's a destination that caters to the adventurous spirit, particularly for women traveling alone, those who yearn for the serenity of nature, and anyone looking to explore Mexico beyond its touristy spots. Bringing Mia along added an extra layer of joy to the journey, as she reveled in the freedom to roam and explore.
If you're a solo woman traveler who loves Mexico, craves new experiences, and relishes in the natural wonders of the world, I highly recommend a visit to the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. Embrace the tranquility, explore the trails, and savor the simple pleasures of a crackling campfire and a starlit sky. This hidden gem in Baja is waiting to be discovered, and I can't wait to repeat this adventure!
Erin Dunigan is a writer, photographer, and horsewoman who has always felt at home in Baja California. She spent her childhood traveling back and forth between her native Southern California and her grandmother's home in La Mision. For the past 14 years she has made Baja her home. You can follow her adventures on Instagram at @edunny.