Feb 12, 2006, 4:10 PM
Post #4 of 18
For the trip you are undertaking, the Auto Club map is quite adequate. The Guia Roji is excellent, but gives you so much detail that it is mind boggling, AND IT COSTS ABOUT $25 US. There's basically only one road and so you don't need much detail.
I assume that you are crossing at Nogales. I don't know that part of the road, but once you hit Magdelena, Santa Ana (where the road from Tijiuana joins hiway 15), I can be of help. We just got back from there Thursday and have driven it several times in the past year.
There is nothing worth stopping for until you get to Guaymas unless you like dusty desert towns (Hermosillo) or want to stop for a really good buffet. There are several in Hermosillo in the good hotels. Prices range from $6 to $11 US.
Follow the signs for Guaymas as you go through. There is a new route that is just being finished and misses a lot of the city. It is easy to follow. Santa Ana to Hermosillo is about 120 miles of easy road and should take only about 2 hours or less. If you go right through, it will take about 1/2 hour or less to get through Hermosillo.
Hermosillo to Guaymas is another 100 miles and takes 1-1/2 hour or less. It's all straight, fairly good, boring, desert road with few towns or other distractions.
You bypass Guaymas if you stay on the main highway. Just follow the signs for Ciudad Obregon. However, I strongly recommend you take a brief side trip to San Carlos - or depending on the time of day, spend the night. The road is just before Guaymas and is clearly marked. It is a very interesting place - though very touristy. There are three (?) protected harbors with houses looking down from the surrounding hills. Very nice. There are several places to stay there - from very upscale to "Motel 6" quality. However, we stay in the Miramar section of Guaymas, about 15 miles away at the Hotel Playa de Cortez because we have animals and they allow them. It is a fascinating place. Built in 1936 right on the bay, it is seedy and run down (rates $70 midweek and $90 weekends), but has a fairly nice restaurant and bar, and was obviously an elegent place with a fascinating history. As far as I can see, Guaymas itself, is a typical Mexican working port. The most outstanding thing you see in the harbor is a large number of abandoned fishing boats left to rot. There are several cheap hotels and motels on the northern entry to town.
From Guaymas to Ciudad Obregon (70 mi/less than an hour), is more of the same. You will go through the middle of C. Obregon and about 15 mi. Navajoa is another 40 miles. DO NOT TAKE THE PERIFERICO. IT IS A HORRIBLE TRUCK ROUTE AND MUCH SLOWER THAN GOING DIRECTLY THROUGH TOWN. Navajoa is a nice town with lots of places to stay. We prefer the Best Western del Rio (?) - on the river just as you come into town. It his a little pricy ($90), but is very nice and has a good restaurant. The road to Alamos (30 miles off the main road) takes off on the southern outskirts of town.
UNLESS YOU PLAN TO GO INTO LOS MOCHIS OR CULIACAN, BOTH OF WHICH YOU CAN BYPASS, BE SURE TO TOP OFF YOUR GAS TANK AS YOU LEAVE NAVAJOA. FROM THERE TO MAZATLAN - ABOUT A TANK FULL DRIVE , DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF YOUR TANK - THERE ARE NO GAS STATIONS AND YOU WILL BE LIKELY TO ARRIVE IN MAZATLAN CLOSE TO EMPTY AND HOLDING YOUR BREATHE.
We have stayed in Los Mochis a couple of nights. We do not recommend the place we stayed unless you like cockroaches. We also do not really care for the town. We do, however, like Mr. Edwards restaurant. It is quite old in the classic rather than rundown sense and has good food at reasonable prices in a very nice setting with a set of railroad (the gateway to Copper Canyon) photos.
We do not go into Culiacan at all. It is reputed to be the center of the West Coast drug trade and to be a dangerous town. A friend stayed there and was confronted with drug kings with armed body guards. We will pass on that and have no information about Culiacan except that you can easily bypass it.
If you are serious about "Motel 6" hotels, we have a great recommendation in Mazatlan. Because of our animals (after a lot of begging), we stayed there. It is cheap ($45 US) and clean. It is right across the street from the Taj Mahal/Mormon Temple type hotel - you can't miss it (name unknown) on the Malecon (seaside street) in the middle of town. If you want good cheap food, La Brochetta just down the street specializes in - Surprise - brochettes. The food was good and very cheap, though they did not have beer or any other alcoholic drinks.
As you are leaving Mazatlan, watch out for the gas stations. We got short changed $200 pesos on our northward trip and they tried to start the pump at $50 pesos on the southward trip. The first was due to my stupidity and a really early morning start without coffee. The second was caught due to my rapidly improving intellect (a very temporary phenomenon).
YOU INDICATED THAT YOU PREFER TO TAKE "LIBRE" - NON TOLL - ROADS. I STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST DOING SO. THE TOLL FROM SANTA ANA TO GUAD WILL RUN YOU ABOUT $90 US. IT IS ABSOLUTELY MONEY WELL SPENT UNLESS YOU LIKE SLOW, DANGEROUS, AND VERY BUMPY ROADS THAT MEANDER ALL OVER THE COUNTRYSIDE.
The road from Mazatlan to Tepic is 200 miles. The start and finish is great toll roads. The middle is 100 miles of really bad and dangerous two lane roads. There are 100 shrines for dead people on that stretch. One for each mile. Needless to say you want to drive very carefully. It is far and away the worst part of the trip. If you can, drive it midweek/midday. If you drive it on the weekend, you will face bumper to bumper traffic from Guadalajara people going to or coming from the beach. I can't suggest the driving time for that stretch. It depends on traffic.
The drive from Tepic to Guad is a very nice four lane toll road. It will take about 3 to 4 hours and is about 150 miles. From the outskirts of Guad, good luck. If you aren't familiar with Mexican city driving you will need it.
Normally, I would recommend following the signs for "Colima." Unfortunately, they are doing road work on that stretch and you should follow the signs for "Chapala/Aeropuerto." It will be quicker, even if you have to go through a lot of Guadalajara.
(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Feb 12, 2006, 5:12 PM)