Overlanding certainly isn’t about rock-crawling, but it naturally leads off-road as you push your personal limits. When I first read about the trail to Misión San Borja on Expedition Portal, I was immediately interested.
Both Expedition Portal and Church & Church recommended the route from El Rosalito east to the mission. But since we were traveling north to south from Bahía de Los Ángeles, it made more sense to find a way from there.
We looked into it, and a north/south route did exist. I estimated it was 25 miles off-road to get there, and another 30ish miles on the back side from the mission to El Rosarito/Mex 1.
We packed up early at Campo Archelon and fueled up at the Bahía de Los Ángeles Pemex before leaving town. We also tried to get the famous cinnamon rolls at Las Sirenes, but evidently they weren’t available on Tuesday.
About 15 miles out of town, we saw a sign for San Borja and took the turn to the left. We aired down at a turn-off before long for a more comfortable ride, but low psi ended up being helpful for road conditions later on.
Desert Beauty and Varied Terrain
The scenery along the 23 miles to the mission was incredible. It changed from low desert with scrub brush and jackrabbits, to hills with trees and cardón cacti. It had rained the day before, so we dealt with some water puddles and mud.
As far as vehicle capability, high clearance isn’t necessary for this track. I recommend 4×4 for the trail from Bahía de Los Ángeles to the mission, but probably not the route between the mission and El Rosarito. The El Rosarito track ended up being more developed/traveled, and was basically a dirt road.
If you can only do one half of the trail for whatever reason, then I recommend the Bahía north/south half without question. Its beauty is unparalleled and there are few off-road routes I’ve enjoyed more. It took us about two-and-a-half hours to cover the distance.
Meeting Don Jose and Touring the Mission
As for the mission itself, we really enjoyed our visit. The caretaker Don Jose came out to greet us, and gave a tour of the mission at our request. He spoke in Spanish and Eric helped translate what I didn’t catch.
Don Jose said his family has lived by the mission for nine generations, and his mother was descended from the Cochimí indians the mission was established to evangelize.
Tragically, the indigenous people were decimated by the newcomers. How moving that Don Jose loyally takes care of the building and has been entrusted with restoring it.
He said the government does not compensate him at all, and he relies on donations from visitors. We learned so much from the tour and were happy to contribute.
Camping is available at the mission for overlanders who want to spend the night. The cost is currently 200 pesos ($10 USD) per person. We plan to camp overnight with friends next month, so we’ll keep you updated.
Back to Mex 1 (And Then There Was Mud)
Eric made quick work of the 22-mile track to Mex 1. It wasn’t nearly as technical as the north/south route, so we moved more quickly and arrived in El Rosarito in about an hour. The total distance was 44.8 miles.
We had quite a muddy Jeep to show for the trail, when all was said and done. All in a day’s work.
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