Exploring Baja Beyond Convergences

RV camping in Baja California
Camping at Gonzaga Bay.

Whether you are a Party or Chill peep coming down for one of the Baja Xscapers Convergences, you might be thinking about staying down and exploring more of the Baja Peninsula. That’s what Xscapers do, right? We never want the fun to end.

Well, we think that’s an excellent idea!  We have been bitten by the Baja bug (in a good way!) and are in our 4th year of RVing here. Here are some route options and trip planning resources for taking you beyond San Felipe.

Driving in the Baja Peninsula

Your first step in planning might be to go to Church – the Church book, that is. “Camping Mexico’s Baja” by Church & Church is an excellent book covering routes and campgrounds. Since there are gaps in cell and mobile internet coverage in Baja, it’s great to have an offline resource. We also like the maps and directions in the Church’s book which come in handy since you cannot – I repeat cannot – fully trust your GPS and Google Maps down here. Google will sometimes give you wildly optimistic drive times and suggest routes that will be very bad cars and especially bad for RVs. We do use Google Maps and download areas offline, but we always double check and confirm Google isn’t trying to kill us. If the route looks sketchy, skip it.

The one downside to the Church book is that the last edition was from 2017 and some of the information is out of date. Luckily the very popular iOverlander app and website has usually reliable and updated reviews of campgrounds, restaurants, and more. We especially appreciate the “big rig friendly” data field. The entire database for countries including Mexico can be downloaded for free for offline use. We use the Mexico GPX file with our Garmin Basecamp desktop program and can upload routes and places to our GPS. For our phones, the Maps.Me app is useful for offline mapping with the iOverlander data.

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Beachfront camping at Bahia Concepcion, Baja California Sur.

RVing into South Baja

From San Felipe, you have a couple of options for continuing your Baja adventure. You can head south on Highway 5. Veteran Baja RVers are probably screaming NO! Don’t take your RV down Highway 5 as the road was unpaved for 25 miles before connecting back to Highway 1 and had some nasty sections destroyed in storms with detours into dirt washes. Fear not (maybe), the Mexican government and their contractors have been hard at work and are almost complete with paving. Current urban legend suggests that the highway “might” be finished by February. We’re waiting for live road reports, but are thinking about coming back this way in the spring to stay with Victor and Lily at Victor’s RV Park assuming the place is still standing after two convergences and a hangout! We will check the Talk Baja Road Conditions Facebook group for current reports and conditions before deciding. Gonzaga Bay is usually an easy drive from San Felipe and a beautiful place to soak in some Baja solitude. Once you leave San Felipe you will lose cell signal pretty quickly so working Xscapers needing a reliable internet connection might need to keep this as a weekend or vacation destination.

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Beachfront camping at Bahia Concepcion, Baja California Sur.

Exploring North Baja by RV

If you decide not to go to south but still want some more Baja, another option is to head back north from San Felipe and take Highway 3 west up into the mountains to Ensenada. We did this route in 2018 in our 36ft Class A towing our Jeep.  It was about three hours of careful driving on a decent paved road that takes you up into the mountains, with views of ranchitos, agave fields (tequila!) and back down through the Ruta del Queso before dropping into Ensenada.  Confirm before taking your RV as conditions can change. Once you get to Ensenada you can go north or south on Highway 1.  If you are going north, we HIGHLY recommend a visit to Baja’s wine country – Valle de Guadalupe – and crossing back to the US in Tecate.  Valle de Guadalupe is home to more that 200 wineries along with a few craft breweries. It’s been referred to as the Napa Valley of Mexico, but without the pretense, traffic and expense. We stay at Guadalupe RV Park just outside of Porvenir and have loved every visit. From there, the Tecate crossing is a short 40 miles drive. 

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Highway 1 through Baja is a narrow stretch full of potholes. Drive with caution!

RVing Highway 1 in Baja

For more Baja head south. We like to stay in San Quintin and enjoy the beach and perhaps Baja’s strongest margaritas at Cielito Lindo Hotel and RV Park. We’re not kidding about strongest margaritas. If you have more than two, plan on spending anther night! Leaving San Quintín, the real Baja adventure begins as Highway 1 climbs back into the mountains and the road narrows. For all drivers this is a challenging section of road, and RVers will need to be especially cautious as the lanes are skinny, the potholes are plentiful, there is often no shoulder and oncoming semi-trucks and passenger buses are trying to break land speed records while squeezing within centimeters of your rig. The maximum speed limit is 80kph, or about 50mph, which might not seem very fast until you get here. We generally average around 40mph and often just stop when oncoming traffic is looking dicey.

Karyn petting whale in Mexico
Karyn petting a whale in Baja California Sur (Photo Credit: James Bai)

Things to do in Baja California Sur

There is no cell service nor gas stations until you get outside of Guerrero Negro. If you make it this far, you have crossed over into the state of Baja California Sur. Items for your BCS bucket list could include petting baby gray whales, seeing 7,500 year old cave paintings, camping for free or cheap on the white sand beaches of the Sea of Cortez and Bahia Concepcion, swimming or paddling with whale sharks and exploring colonial towns and Spanish Missions. Just don’t trust Google Maps, but do download Google Translate. Take your time and embrace the spirit of “Manana”! 

Have you RVed in Baja? Let us know your favorites spots in the comments.

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Author

Scott & Jaime Sichler

Scott and Jaime are originally from Oregon, but left to pursue corporate careers in Los Angeles, California. After 17 years, they ditched the rat race and sold their house to become full-time RVers. Since 2016, they’ve been traveling throughout the US and Baja, Mexico in their 2007 Winnebago Journey with their dog Crosby. They enjoy the outdoors and document their travels at AwayWeWinnebago.com

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Exploring Baja Beyond Convergences

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