RV & Camping

Northern Mexico
Campground Report

by Gerry and Maureen Recksiedler

Dear Carl and Lorena:

Finally getting in touch with you as we promised ever so long ago. We met you and Lorena at the Paraiso Miramar Hotel and Campground located just north of Santa Cruz on the Pacific Coast of Nayarit last winter. We really enjoyed talking with you about travelling in Mexico and we appreciated the information you gave us for our trip up through northwest Mexico. We promised to send you information about camping possibilities along our route to the border. So here goes.

Prior to our meeting you, we discovered a free camping beach a few km north of Rincon de Guayabitos on the left hand side of Mex 200 (going north). The road to the beach is between kms 81 and 82. The name of the beach is Boca de Naranja. There is a sign on the highway for the little town along the way called Lima de Abajo. The road to Lima de Abajo is about 2.5 km. It's a cobble stone road to the town. Beyond the town it turns into a dirt road, which is not bad. The last half kilometer is kind of rough, as it goes down an incline to the beach. You just have to take it easy.

The beach itself is broad and sandy. There is no shade cover along the beach. You have to get back a bit to find shade in the palm trees. There are lots of palapas, but no services or facilities. There is a fair amount of vegetative trash around and some plastic, but the beach itself is quite neat and clean. Looking south the beach stretches for several miles towards La Penita and beyond to Guayabitos. This is a dry camp situation. Also, you might want to camp with others for security as none of the locals stay or live here. The place probably gets overrun during holidays.

(Just a note about the Trailer Park Los Cocos in San Blas: There was a For Sale sign up on the property.)

Mexcaltitlan - the supposed origin of the Aztecs. You drive to the end of the road and then catch a boat to go over to the island. The place where you catch the boat has quite a large parking area. It would be possible to camp here overnight. Again, no one stays overnight or lives here so it would be advisable to be with a group of campers.

Next we visited Teacapan (about 38 km south of Escuinapa de Hildago) and stayed at Playa Las Lupitas. A few kms before getting to Teacapan there is a campground called Rancho Las Lupitas along the highway. Just past Rancho las Lupitas, turn right towards the sea and follow a dirt road for about 1+ km. It winds around a bit but eventually ends at the beach. It's a dry camp situation. There are some palapas set up. It looks like one of those places that might get overrun on the weekends, but it was certainly quiet during the week when we were there. Usually the rest of the beach front is occupied by Canadian RVers dug in for the winter. We saw lots of dolphins playing in the bay and a couple came right up to shore persuing fish. Also, this is a great birding area.

Just like you said, the drive on Mex 40 over El Espinazo del Diablo toward Durango is fantastic. Incredible scenery. Lots of places to pull off and take in the views. A fair amount of truck traffic, but they give you lots of room. Because the road is so curvaceous and the turns so tight, the oncoming trucks have to actually come over into your lane to make the turns. So you always have to be on the alert and give them lots of room.

Went through El Salto and drove to El Tecuan National Park, about 44 km east of El Salto on the south side of the highway. You drive through a gated entrance where you sign in. There is a couple who live on site and keep an eye on the place. Then drive on for about 1 km to where there are 6 cabins which you can rent, or you can camp anywhere you want. The cottages are equiped with propane. To rent a cabin costs 100 pesos a night or 1000 pesos a month.This is another dry camp situation. Water is available, but it's a bit of a trek to go and get it. Campers can set up in the field opposite the volleyball courts just below the cabins or you can follow some of the trails and do more remote camping. Lots of evidence of group camping. There are some track trails where one can go for walks. It looks like the government had put some money into this place but seem to be letting it go to ruin. AAA puts this park at 57 km west of Durango. The cost to camp overnight was 20 pesos.

On the way from Durango to Parral, at around Km 130 to 140 on Hwy 45, the road decends through some interesting canyon country.

You suggested that we check out Pancho Villa's hacienda in Canutillo. We did and it turned out to be a very modest but interesting museum. The folks running the place are very friendly. They gave us permission to camp over for the night at no charge and also offered us water. However it might be a good idea to give a little something towards the running of the museum. This is a good place to break up the trip between Durango and Parral and on to Creel.

Just north of Canutillo is another little town of Villa Ocampo. In the Guia Turistica for the state of Durango, it mentions a presa (dam) that exists 5 km west of Villa Ocampo. Although we didn't go in to check it out, my guess is that it could be another camping option.

At about the 395 km marker on the highway we noted that there was an industrial park on the right hand side on the southern outskirts of the city of Hidalgo de Parral. It had some access lanes where one could pull off and camp overnight. Campers that we had met in Durango told us that this is one of the places that they have used in the past. Another km or so up the highway towards Parral is a golf club and these same campers said that they have also used it as a place to camp overnight, but you should ask and they don't want you there till after 7:00 pm. They don't want you occupying the parking area until all the activities are finished at the club.

The drive to La Bufa and Batopilas from Creel, Chihuahua is quite dramatic and exciting. Highly recomended, but nerves of steel and a high clearance vehicle is recommended. In Batopilas we discovered a very interesting restaurant with good food called El Puente Colgante (the Swinging Bridge). The people who run it are a very nice family. They are probably in their late 30's and have 3 children. It's kind of like going to visit them in their home. There are lots of historical pictures of Pancho Villa and other things of the area. Also has several antiques - old radios, coffee grinders, lamps, water clay pots, etc. One of the better and more interesting restaurants that we've come across in Mexico.

We walked to Satevo Mission about 10 km further down the road. This road was quite drivable - no worse than the road down to Batopilas. If walking in the area, be sure to take lots of water as it gets quite hot during the day. This is a good route for birding.

At Basaseachic Falls we camped in the north end of the park just a couple of km south of the town. The campground is basically for tents. It has lots of rocky outcrops, pine trees and beautiful views with the stream down below. This campground is only good for slide-in campers on pickups or vans with high clearance. The campground has no facilities except for some garbage cans and two outdoor toilets. It's basically a dry camp situation and there is no charge. We noted that one of the buildings was advertising baths with hot water, but we didn't check it out.

At the junction of the road to San Juanito there is a sign for Rancho San Lorenzo. It has a trailer and a tent symbol indicating that there is another camping area at the south end of the park. We didn't check it out so we don't know what they have to offer or what they charge. This is a great place to spend at least an afternoon hiking the various trails.

Drove through Madera and followed the signs to the Zona Arqueologico de las Cuarentas Casas - about 40 km north of Madera. A switchback trail goes about 300 meters down into a canyon and then about 250+ meters up the other side to some cave dwellings. There is a guard who comes with you to explain things, but he only speaks Spanish. There is no camping allowed in the parking area.

About 30 km back towards Madera (just north of a little settlement called Nueva Madera) there is a presa (dam) called La Pinita on the east side of the highway. It is a nice location, fenced with a gated entrance and locked at night. There are pine trees and access to the lake. They charge 100 pesos a night for no services.

Back up the highway (north) from the presa about 15 km, there is a microwave tower site on the right hand side. Cross the railway track and look for the sign for Las Varas. Go on for another couple of km where you will see a cobblestone road going off to the right towards the tower. Follow the cobblestone road for 1+ km. The whole area is a beautiful pine forest. Again, it's only good for slide-in campers and vans. There are several flat places to camp up there.

In Casas Grandes we camped at the Hotel Los Arcos located on the south end of the city on the right hand side of the highway going north. It has seven sites with electricity and water. You pay for what you use. We paid 30 pesos/night without any services.They said that they just opened up six new sites last year. Showers can be had in one of the hotel rooms.

That's the end of my report. Hope you can find some of this useful.

We certainly have enjoyed our last two trips in Mexico and plan to go back again this year to Monterrey, Xalapa and down to Oaxaca and perhaps San Cristobal de las Casas. Want to do a little kayaking in the Xalapa area.

We were so sorry to hear about the death of your friend Steve. We enjoyed getting to know him through your books. It appeared that he certainly knew how to enjoy life.

Best wishes,

Gerry and Maureen Recksiedler
Box 744
Stonewall, MB

Both Maureen and Gerry are recently retired from the field of education. They are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy whitewater and flatwater canoeing, hiking, biking, birding and cross-country skiing. Gerry has recently taken up the sport of whitewater kayaking. He has studied Spanish both in Winnipeg and in Mexico over the last several years. Maureen began to study Spanish about 2 years ago.

In the late 1960's they spent 2 years in Africa working in a teacher training college as CUSO volunteers. After the contract expired, they travelled for approximately 4 months through Asia before returning to Canada. In the mid 1970's they took a leave of absence from work and toured Europe in a VW van. They also visited Central and South America for brief holiday visits. Their most recent trip took them to Greece and Turkey in the fall of 1999 for 5 weeks.

Gerry and Maureen live about 5 miles outside of the commuter community of Stonewall located just northwest of the city of Winnipeg in the prairie province of Manitoba, Canada. Their home is located on a small wooded acreage surrounded by farmland.

Since their retirement they have made 2 trips to Mexico - the first for 4 months and the second for 3 months - and will be leaving on their third trip in January 2000. After extensive research they decided that the most suitable vehicle for Mexico would be a four-wheel drive Dodge Ram pickup (3/4 ton) with a slide-in camper. They chose this combination in order to have a vehicle that could maneuver reasonably easily on the narrow highways and through the constricted streets typical of most Mexican towns and also to have the ability to go into difficult to reach areas or beaches. When they find a place where they want to stay a while, its possible to take the camper off and use the pickup as a runabout. A solar panel allows them to dry camp in comfort. Of course the family pooch comes along. "The People's Guide to RV Camping in Mexico" was very useful in helping them equip their rig for travelling in Mexico.

The Perfect RV
Book Review: Traveler's Guide To Mexican Camping
Driving in Mexico
The Best of Mexico
The Copper Canyon
Recipes from Batopilas
Driving: Nogales to Lake Chapala

©1972-2001 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens