La Paz, San Evaristo, San Luis Gonzaga

Map - La Paz, San Evaristo, San Luis Gonzaga Loop

My final loop adventure was back over on the Gulf side, where I drove along the coast north from La Paz to San Evaristo, and then west through the mountains, past the mission San Luis Gonzaga, and finally back out to paved Highway 1. Total distance, including side trips: 186 miles

Peninsula el Mogote

First I checked out Peninsula el Mogote, a large sandspit northwest of La Paz. Satellite imagery shows that the east end of this peninsula is being developed into resorts (with a golf course!), but the "neck" on the west end where it connects to the mainland is still undeveloped dunes with only a graded dirt access road. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.1776, -110.4294 

Baja - Peninsula el Mogote - Beach - Looking East Towards La PazBaja - Peninsula el Mogote - Beach - Looking WestBaja - Peninsula el Mogote - Dunes - Road

While the north side of Mogote is sandy beaches, the south side is mud flats. I spotted these curious prints in the mud that looked suspiciously like rays. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.1742, -110.4156 

Baja - Peninsula el Mogote - South Side - Road - Shore - Looking East - La Paz in the DistanceBaja - Peninsula el Mogote - Beach - Mud Flats - Ray Print

Driving North

The first 25 miles of the road heading northwest along the shore from La Paz is paved — all the way to the busy mining town of San Juan de la Costa.

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Here are some official camping beaches at Punta los Tules and Boca el Sauzoso.

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San Juan de la Costa

At San Juan de la Costa, public traffic (myself included) is diverted from the nice road, which is henceforth reserved for use only by the busy mining facility in town. The public must continue north via a rougher road segregated from mining traffic. After finding the sign in town for this road, I immediately encountered a washed out bridge and had to detour around. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.3643, -110.6823 

Baja - San Juan de la Costa - Road North - Washed Out Bridge - SportsmobileBaja - Punta el Junco - Looking South - Segregated Public Road (left) & Mining Road (right)

I passed this shipwreck at Punta el Junco See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.4085, -110.6929 

Baja - Punta el Junco - ShipwreckBaja - Punta el Junco - Shipwreck

Las Animas

At Las Animas, the landscape gets interesting with dramatically eroding cliffs of pink and green colored rock. I camped here for the night. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.5022, -110.7193 

Baja - Las Animas - Green and Pink RocksBaja - Las Animas - Green and Pink Rocks

To the beach

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Even the pebbles on the beach come in all colors of the rainbow (well, except for blue).

Baja - Las Animas - Beach - Colorful RocksBaja - Las Animas - Beach - Colorful RocksBaja - Las Animas - Beach - Colorful Rocks - Rainbow Colors

Hiking under the crumbling cliffs at the south end of the beach. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.4967, -110.7134 

Baja - Las Animas - Beach - CliffsBaja - Las Animas - BeachBaja - Las Animas - Beach - Pelicans

Flora

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I spent the morning driving my way up the coast to San Evaristo, detouring to investigate every beach I passed. I found plenty of nice private sandy beaches in this area. Here's Punta el Cobre See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.6061, -110.7394 

Baja - Punta el Cobre - BeachBaja - Punta el Cobre - Beach

and Bahía el Coyote See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.6776, -110.7252 

Baja - Bahía el Coyote - BeachBaja - Bahía el Coyote - BeachBaja - Bahía el Coyote - Beach

At Cerro Colorado, the mountains press up against the shore, and the road is squeezed in among the colorful boulders that fall from the cliffs. Then there is a deviation as the road turns inland to steeply wind up over Mesa Botafuego. I met up with some road construction here — they were laying down some concrete on the steepest parts of this primarily dirt road. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.7654, -110.6672 

Baja - Road by Cerro ColoradoBaja - Road Construction - Mesa BotafuegoBaja - Road Construction - Mesa BotafuegoBaja - Mesa Botafuego - View from Road - Cañada La Fraile

Then I was back down to sea level, checking out more beach access. Here's Ensenada Verde See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.7939, -110.6623 

Baja - Beach South of Punta el Mechudo - Ensenada VerdeBaja - Beach South of Punta el Mechudo - Ensenada Verde

Punta el Mechudo See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8082, -110.6619 

Baja - Punta el Mechudo - Beach - LagoonBaja - Punta el Mechudo - Beach - Lighthouse - Fisherman

and Punta la Mojonera. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8316, -110.6737 

Baja - Beach South of Punta La MojoneraBaja - Beach South of Punta La Mojonera

San Evaristo

San Evaristo is a cheery little village at the northern end of this coastal road north from La Paz.

Driving into town and right up onto the beach, I was met by shouts of friendly surprise by a group of guys sitting around a table under an awning. They did their best to draw me in to hang out with them. I'm not a natural being the center of attention, but I did stay a while, doing my best to chat in Spanish. I ended up giving everyone a tour of my camper. I also inquired about the condition of the road inland from here, and was told it was rough but definitely passable with my vehicle. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.9091, -110.7099 

There is a large salt processing plant just north of town, but I didn't visit that.

Baja - San Evaristo Sign - Road - SportsmobileBaja - San EvaristoBaja - San EvaristoBaja - San EvaristoBaja - San Evaristo - Main Beach

Road Inland from San Evaristo

After a lunch break, I drove the inland road, heading west towards San Luis Gonzaga and then on to Highway 1.

The road is initially steep and eroded as it heads up into the mountains — but should be no problem for a high clearance 4x4. Soon I had a nice view looking back to the coast I'd just left, and the islands beyond.

Baja - Road Inland from San Evaristo - Looking East

For some reason, elaborate trash cans had been placed every kilometer or so along this road.

Baja - Road Inland from San Evaristo - Trash Can (Empty)

This road through dry rugged mountainous country follows a narrow strip of canyon bottom green oasis. This lush spot, named El Bosque, appropriately has a forest of palm trees. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8392, -110.7745 

Baja - El Bosque RoadBaja - Segundo Bosque

The greenery continues as the water flows into La Purification. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8300, -110.7993 

Baja - La Purification - Valley - Water - Palm TreesBaja - Las Paredes - House

At La Soledad, I came across a village, complete with school. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8167, -110.8202 

Baja - La Soledad - Las Tunitas - ValleyBaja - La Soledad - Las Tunitas - Village - School

Just west of town is this colorful scene, of water with pink and green rocks.

Baja - La Soledad - Colorful Rocks and Water

More lushness at Hacienda La Presa / Misíon Dolores. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.8684, -111.0594 

Baja - Hacienda La Presa - Misíon DoloresBaja - Hacienda La Presa - Misíon Dolores - Sign

San Luis Gonzaga

After finding a quiet spot to camp for the night, I arrived the next morning at the mission San Luis Gonzaga, built in the 1700s. See in Google Maps See in Google Earth  24.9079, -111.2893 

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The area is still an active village. I arrived to find a cheery morning scene, with the sounds of birds chittering, families chatting, and a man singing while he worked. The church is accompanied by a few other old buildings, elaborate brick structures which are still beautiful in their decay.

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