Baja California Mexico is indeed one of the BEST dual-sport or adventure motorcycle playgrounds in the world. If you love motorcycle adventure like we do, and especially if you live in California, we encourage you– just do it! We have ridden much of the terrain in the northern part of this Mexican peninsula. On this page, you will find helpful hints, gpx files, google maps, and links to resources we used to make our trips FANTASTIC. This page is not a detail of our adventure; the point is to give you what you need to make your own adventure.
You need your passport plus Mexico vehicle insurance, and a visa. These are the legal requirements for to and fro travel by Americans into Mexico. You can get started with both on line. To be legal you must get the downloaded visa stamped once you cross the border. Mexican authorities have never asked to see our visa; we have been lucky because we never have gotten it stamped. We use a company called Baja Bound for motorcycle insurance and to apply for the visa. CLICK HERE to go to Baja Bound and check insurance rates. CLICK HERE to go directly to their site for the visa information. *** 2018 Update: You can get your visa AND pay the fees online all in advance of your travel. It makes the border crossing a breeze. The links to the Mexican Immigration and Visa Application are posted on the Baja Bound Web site.***
Good maps of the Baja Peninsula are a must. One resource we used was the Cartografia E-32 map. It is an affordable download that includes very detailed off-road trails. CLICK HERE to visit the English web site to see products and pricing.
Jon has done Baja travel with Griptwisters and purchased their Baja California Loop GPS Tour Package. Griptwisters just published an updated version. This self-guided package includes maps for your GPS plus a book that offers motorcycle travel advice on lodging, camping, fuel stops, dining, and whatever you need to plan your trip. Griptwisters is an established American company that runs a fine operation. In addition to giving you everything you need for a do-it-yourself travel experience, Griptwisters provides guided tours that are affordable and well executed. If you are considering your first trip to Baja, a guided tour may be best. Travel with Griptwisters for a safe and fun adventure that is affordable. CLICK HERE to check out the Griptwisters web site and contact them at least to purchase the Book and the Maps. I promise you will thank yourself for spending this small amount of money for indispensible information.
We use old fashioned paper maps too. The best are those published by National Geographic. See Amazon for a great collection that includes North and South Baja, or you can purchase them separately. CLICK HERE to see our maps on Amazon.
The tracks from our two most recent rides are available (FREE) for download at the end of this page. However, roads may change or become impassable, or if you get off-track, you need to have good maps that show off-road routes so you can be sure to escape the backcountry and desert areas and find your way home. Be safe, not sorry.
The icons of motorcycle travel in Northern Baja include Mike’s Sky Ranch, Coco’s Corner, and Coyote Cal’s. All these destinations require travel along some unpaved roads, all with variable conditions over time.
Weather, combined with other local events, can make what is normally an easily travelled roadway, a nightmare for a heavy adventure biker or inexperienced off-road motorcyclist. For example, a simple jaunt to Coyote Cal’s once presented unavoidable knee-deep rocky ruts on downhill ledges above a steep canyon. You see, unbeknownst to us, the Baja 1000 course used this same road the previous weekend. Road maintenance is not what it is in the USA and you can never be sure what conditions might be the day of your trip. Prepare for anything and be flexible. Have alternate routes in mind. Prepare an abort mission plan in the event of bike breakdown, illness or injury. You may not have cell phone reception. Jon warns me all the time, “AAA is not going to show up” so you need a backup plan. We use spot messenger and prearrange a friend on standby in the USA who is willing to come to our aid if summoned by Spot satellite message. Details on the spot can be accessed by CLICKING HERE. If you do not have resources within driving distance and you are traveling alone on remote off-road trails in Mexico you might consider a more sophisticated evacuation plan such as Global Rescue. We used this when we traveled in South America. They do offer flexible plans so you can meet your specific need. CLICK HERE to access Global Rescue.
I get nervous about fuel especially with my DRZ because it does not have a very large tank. Jon plans well and does not worry. We carry extra gas and we always top off our tanks when we have the opportunity. Premium is sometimes available and sometimes not. On rare occasion, we have purchased gasoline from roadside peddlers (Catavina). Surprisingly, our bikes have run well on Mexican gasolina. In addition, when topping off our gas tanks, we take the opportunity to buy bottled water and top off our camel packs too. That is what I say—as long as you can carry the weight, you can never have too much gas and too much water.
Park and Ride Across the Border:
Despite the criminal violence, political demonstrations and travel caution aired on TV, our Mexican travel experiences have always been good. We spend the night in San Diego and cross the border on Day 1 of our Baja ride. We avoid Tijuana where one might encounter drug-related crime and crazy traffic. We use the Tecate and Otay Mesa Border crossings, which are less congested, have minimal delays, and we have encountered zero problems. On our last trip, we parked our truck and trailer at a pay lot just before the border ($10/day) at Tecate. The Google map file shows the parking lot location. Some folks cross into Mexico and set up camp at Mexican RV and campsites south of Tecate and this works for them. However, we found returning to the USA was easiest on the motorcycle. Fellow travelers also waiting at the border were very hospitable and empathetic toward us as they sat in their air-conditioned cars creeping forward. They encouraged us to move ahead. You just go up to the front of the line and squeeze in, sort of like white lining. Once we were heavily loaded with wide, hard panniers. We could not squeeze anywhere despite the many times people waved us forward or rolled down their windows and motioned us ahead. We had to sit in the long line, touch and go. It was an extreme test of patience and my clutch hand. I never want to do that again. Pack light, stay slim, and be mobile.
There are many hotels in northern Baja and they are very affordable. For some you can make reservations on Hotels.com. You can call ahead or mail a check to places like Mike’s, Alfonsina’s, or Coyote Cal’s.
Contact information to these locations is embedded in the google earth view of the GPX file attached. We like our flexibility so we take our chances and just show up. We have been lucky so far and all these destinations have been able to host us for the evening. Jon does scout around the internet to be sure we do not travel during popular races or large scheduled events. Do this for two reasons. One, 4 X 4 monster trucks, dune buggies, and hundreds of dirt bikes on your planned travel routes is not a good thing. And, the second reason: the drivers will eat up all of Mike’s steaks and leave you without food and accommodations. We do not carry camping gear because we travel light. However, we do have emergency supplies and will be ok if we cannot get a room. Jon carries the Surviver’s body bag and says it is one thing he carries that he hopes he never needs. Product information on the Surviver’s Body Bag Click Here
Gas, food, lodging, routes, border crossing I think I have covered the important things to planning your adventure. There is much to see and we still have many areas left to explore in both northern and southern Baja for our next time. Enjoy our photos and shoot us an email if you have any questions.
CLICK HERE for our 2015 Baja GPX file. This trip was nearly 800 miles, mostly pavement and some dirt. We took 3 days for this trip. Destinations included Ensenada, Coyote Cal’s, Catavina, Coco’s Corner, San Felipe. You may download a GPX file of this ride using Chrome, Fire Fox or IE browsers. If you are using a Safari browser, you can still use the link to access the download. But, you must remember to remove the .txt file extension added by Safari to your download. Go to Finder < Downloads. Locate the file and rename it so that your saved download ends in .gpx instead of .txt.
CLICK HERE for the google map to the 2015 Baja ride described above.
CLICK HERE for GPX files to our 2017 trip to Mike’s Sky Ranch and Ensenada. This trip was some highway with nearly 120 miles of some very technical dirt riding including miles of sand with some thick areas, ascents and descents, rocks, ruts, and water crossing. It really wasn’t too hard and LOADS of fun! **Sorry, Safari will always add the .txt to any downloaded GPX file so you must remove it before you can open the map. Open both maps via Base Camp and click on Google Earth View to see embedded information for each thumb tack.
CLICK HERE for the google map of our route to Mike’s Sky Ranch and Ensenada.
CLICK HERE! for how to make a 2700 mile Criss Cross Baja on Big Bikes, maps, GPX files, photos and tips.
Vicky and Jon Baker, ALWAYS, ready to ride
Email us at: Bakers@2shareourride.com