We slept well at Baja Cactus and were in no rush, so we casually got motivated and went 2 miles down the highway to Baja's Best (Bed and Breakfast) Restaurant... across the highway from the Turista Motel on the far edge of El Rosario. Elizabeth had hot cakes and eggs and I had their chorizo and eggs breakfast burritos... delicious!
With so many interesting sites around El Rosario, we had not decided exactly which ones to visit until then. We decided on Las Pintas, but this time to try the northern road in and see more of the top of the boulder field. We have been to Las Pintas several times before, and it never ceases to amaze us. See http://vivabaja.com/pintas
for our day there in 2005 and http://vivabaja.com/406
when my son and I spent some time there in 2006 (on pages 5-7).
The access to Las Pintas is off the road to Punta San Carlos, a tiny fishing village and nearby wind-surfing resort, about 36 miles from Highway 1 http://www.solosports.net
. The turnoff is between Km. 80 & 81 (just over 14 miles from El Rosario's Pemex station). There are two turn offs, the first one is signed for 'Puerto San Carlos' and the second one is just ahead at the second curve in the highway. Set your trip odometer to zero when you leave the pavement.
Just over 3 miles from the highway on the graded road, my low air tire warning light came on! For the second time, a pointy rock punctured one of the truck's tires (BFG Rugged Trail, with 16,000 miles on it). I was able to plug the leak and refilled the tire with my electric air pump. The same thing happened at 13,000 miles while southbound from Gonzaga Bay, near Laguna Chapala (on a different tire). We were in no rush, so we turned back to have the tire patched in El Rosario at Raul's Tires ($5.00). No more flats on this trip... note to self: Get new rubber for the truck!
Take Two, back on the road to Punta San Carlos! Six miles from Highway One we pull over for a beer break where the old road from El Rosario meets the new, graded road to San Carlos... Life is good!
Victoria is a really good tasting beer that isn't as common as our other favorites (XX, Pacifico, Sol, Modelo, Tecate).
We noted the mileage at Rancho Emiliano Zapata as 10.0, and knew the northern road to Las Pintas was not far past the ranch, and took the first road we saw, 1.9 miles ahead. 1.8 miles on this side road is another road to the left (which was correct), but seemed to me to be going too far north so I elected to continue ahead. The road ahead returned to the San Carlos road. No matter, we will just continue south to the normal Las Pintas access road, and return via the less used northern road! Just before the Las Pintas road, the San Carlos road enters a cardonal (a cardon cactus forest, the cardon is the world's largest cactus).
The Las Pintas road is 17.4 miles from Highway 1, and if you miss the first one, another is just ahead. Go too far and a ranch is passed, then you will cross the big Arroyo San Fernando (a usually dry riverbed).
Once on the Las Pintas road, reset your odometer for the 7.2 mile drive in... Here is my road log to Las Pintas:
Highway 1, southward from El Rosario 14.6 miles (between Km. 80-81), turn right at the left curve. GPS: 30°01.59', 115°32.05' (Map datum set to 'NAD27 Mexico')
Go 17.4 miles on the good graded dirt road to a single track road going left. If passed, just ahead is a ranch house on the right and there is a second left road that joins the first. Set odometer to '0.0'. GPS: 29°49.64', 115°28.42'.
Pass ranch houses ('Malvar') and make an 'S' turn right, into Arroyo San Fernando. You soon will be reach a (possibly) closed gate at Mile 3.5. Always re-close any gate after you pass through.
Mile 5.2, (GPS: 29°52.53', 115°25.22') turn LEFT off of Arroyo San Fernando road, and follow a small side arroyo. Brush may scratch your vehicle in here.
Mile 5.4, (GPS: 29°52.69', 115°25.26') turn RIGHT, out of small arroyo and cross low divide to small valley.
Mile 7.2 LAS PINTAS parking area. GPS: 29°53.90', 115°24.48', elev. 755'. You are 24.6 miles from Highway 1 and 39.2 miles from El Rosario's Baja Cactus Motel and Pemex gas station, per my odometer.
Cardon cactus along the Las Pintas road.
An unusual multi-branched boojum tree.
The road drops into the San Fernando riverbed before reaching the side canyon for Las Pintas.
Nearing Las Pintas.
As close as we can drive. The storm of last January really changed the terrain here, as the sand was washed away and made getting to the rock art a bit more of a climb.
I can't say enough good things about my truck! It is my third Tacoma, and comfort and off road ability is supreme. Only the tires could be better!
Here we celebrated my birthday, exploring Baja!
Okay, we have arrived at Las Pintas and we make a lunch, have some cold beer, and explore around the lower end of the rock art and fossil site. In the next part, see more of the lower Las Pintas site and then we travel around to the top end of Las Pintas and see fantastic rock art that we have not seen before!
To Be Continued...