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Road Log Notes From Reader

Mexico's West Coast Nogales to Manzanillo

The following e-mail message was received from a reader, Louis Lampe. The information was gathered during the 1998-1999 season. You'll find that there is a lot of detail, it's a little hard to follow if you aren't familiar with the area. Louis obviously loves to explore. People who do know the route will find a lot of nuggets in this write-up. Particularly good is the fishing information and the details about staying overnight at Pemex stations.


Tucson to Boca de Iguanas 12-14-98

Note all references are to the toll road 15D from Nogales to Mazatlán and then 15 from Mazatlán south until I turn off N. of Tepic to follow the coast road. Also peso exchange is about N$9.75 per US$1.00 in Tucson. On Wednesday 12-16 I saw N$9.90 per US$1.00.

Nogales AZ gas prices: Shell station Mariposa road, unleaded regular $1.199/gal, diesel $1.169/gal. Fiesta Market a bit closer to the gate was cheaper. (Tucson was $.939/gal regular). Pemex N$4.25/liter regular, N$4.68/liter premium, N$3.35/liter diesel. This figures out to about US$1.50 per gallon for regular unleaded which some will argue is the same or a little less octane as US regular unleaded. NOTE WELL: THEY TELL ME THAT SOME PEOPLE ARE STAYING HOME BECAUSE GAS PRICES ARE SUPPOSED OUT OF SIGHT. LAST YEAR I FIGURED THE SAME GAS COST ME US$1.46 PER GALLON. NOT MUCH DIFFERENCE.

Restaurant Elba in Santa Ana is very good but I didn't stop there this time.

I notice more Pemex stations catering to overnighters.   I stayed a year ago at km 31 N. of Chihuahua because it was late and I was tired.   I slept in the camper, dry camp free.  Shower N$3, restrooms free with tip box optional. Very clean.  Economy restaurant and tienda.  Such a deal.   Friends on theroad tell me about staying at these  Pemex Plus or Super Pemex stations. Some would prefer to overnight at a trailer park but if none is available you can't really go to a hotel without adequate parking for a large rig. I saw a similar place this time at km146 N. of Hermosillo, GPS N30° 21.67´ W111° 05.90´.  It looked very good from the road.  Big signs: Baños, Regaderas, Restaurante.  Called Est. Llano, ES 3264.

Too early, I didn´t stop.  But I did overnight at Est. Valiente, ES 3531, km21 N. of Guaymas, GPS N28° 02.56´ W110° 56.40´. Dry camp, of course and no showers. Restrooms old but clean.  Very good 24 hour econ restaurant with complimentary cup of coffee. There were probably eight RV´s there for the night.   In the future I will buy gas elsewhere. By the way, the tourist booth at the caseta at km 15 N. of Hermosillo is very helpful.  I asked about the problem with robberies at night on the carretera in Sinaloa.  I had heard average 1.5 per night with some of the robbers in uniform.  I was told it hadn´t gotten better and under no circumstance driveat night in Sinaloa.  They also said that the good bass fishing in Sonora was poor this week.  They have some small maps and hotel suggestions.

Northern Sonora roads were pretty good.  Practical maximum 65 MPH, slowing to 50 MPH in rough spots and less for curves.  Average about 55 MPH. South of Guaymas the maintenance was not so good and the roads were narrower, making it rather interesting being passed by a large truck or bus.  Practical maximum 60 MPH.  In Sinaloa the roads were noticeably wider, with pretty good maintenance in the north but poor south of Mazatlán. I noticed at km10 N. of Obregón at the caseta Río Yaqui, ES 4433, advertising restrooms, restaurant, shower with clearly visible nice parking spaces to one side.  Looked good from the road.

It is worth explaining the truck route through Cd. Obregón.  If southbound you will see at the north edge of town a Wal-Mart and a VIP´s on the right (west) side of the road. Almost immediately is a veer to the left which is the truck route to Navajoa and Barra de Navidad which is faster and easier than going through the hotel zone.  The truck route is a pair of wide one-way streets parallel to the main street but one or two blocks east.  At the other end of town the turn to Navajoa is poorly marked.  When you see a Ley´s shopping center ahead and a bit to the left, turn left keeping Ley´s on your right.  Soon there is a sign Navajoa 75 km.  If on the other hand, you don't want the bypass and you want hotel row and the main street, pass the first veer to the left and take the second veer to the left and this will be M. Aleman.  I have stayed at Day´s Inn, formerly Costa de Oro and liked it.   It is pretty much like any other Day´s Inn.  GPS N 27° 28.16´ W 109° 58.46´.  I have stayed at other more expensive hotels in Cd. Obregón but I prefer Day´s Inn.  South of town at km 219 is the propane plant.

The truck route around Navajoa is terrible.  With my pick-up and slide-in cab-over camper I always go through town instead of the truck route.   I suspect that large rigs are required to take the truck route but I know that some people chance it and go through town.

I passed Río Fuerte TP north of Los Mochis which I like but it was too early.  See page 103 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.  I have stayed there before and will again.  The gas station about a half mile south on the east side of Hwy. 15D is very creative at extracting money.  T.P. is somewhere around km 16 or 18 on the bank of Río Fuerte, W. of the carretera.  At the administración (office) GPS N 25° 57.64´W 109° 03.19´.  The only trick to finding it is to go to the north end of the bridge over the river and turn west.  If northbound you should slow down and look for an impromptu unpaved left turn bay.

I overnighted at Est. Valle Bonito, ES 3693, at km 0 at Culiacán at the caseta.  It´s not obvious but there is a parking area in back of the station called the Pensión,  away from highway noise.   Restroom, shower, restaurants (2, one open air, one air conditioned).  I wasn´t real happy with the food I had in the A/C restaurant.  Hot showers 24 hours.  A little rough but clean and serviceable.  Total for me and my camper N$10 for 12 hours.   He said that he had 220 volt or 110 volt plug-ins for air conditioners. I only saw one bathroom/shower so I guess someone stands guard while the ladies use the bathroom and shower which didn´t seem very busy.  Great location.  Saved me the drive into Culiacán. The following day, after leaving Culiacán, I found a much better Pemex, Servicio Santa Lucía, 15 minutes south of where I had stayed.  ES 4006,km180, restrooms, shower, restaurant.  New and very clean.  Only one shower and you have to ask where it is.  Security guard has the key.  This place is on the toll road to Mazatlán, south of the Costa Rica, El Dorado, Mazatlán interchange but north of the first caseta (toll booth).  GPS N 24° 34.82´ W 107° 26.34´.

On the Maxipista (a smooth well paved road) to Mazatlán it is worth stopping at the Mirador at km72.  It has a great view of the ocean with cocos and other refreshments.  Note: On the return trip I took old highway 15 between Mazatlán and Culiacán which is a great road, well maintained, supposedly safer and of course I avoided the high tolls. The last good Pemex that I saw was just south of Mazatlán at km278, also called Santa Lucía, ES 3996, restrooms, restaurant.  No shower that I saw but I didn´t get out of the truck.  GPS N 23° 11.73´   W106° 19.86´.

I continued south on that terrible road to Tepic.   Lots of trucks and bad road made the practical maximum 35 to 45 MPH, with many construction delays.  There is a neat way to avoid the long uphill climb to Tepic and back down to Highway 200 to Puerta Vallarta.  It´s like this: going south go through Tuxpan junction and continue on highway 15 past the junction to Santiago Ixcuintla, continue on highway 15 for about 8 or 10 more km to a marked turn-off, GPS N 21° 48.49´ W 105° 06.20´, to the west to Villa Hidalgo.  Km posts not reliable here.   Much construction on highway 15.  By the way I passed the Pemex station, ES 4753 just a few Km north on highway 15 and failed to mark its location.  There is usually a police inspection close by. Last good big Pemex if you are bypassing Tepic.   Go West through Villa Hidalgo (small, busy Pemex there) to Guadalupe Victoria (careful not marked,it's just a crossroads) and turn left (south) towards San Blas.   When you get to the "T" in the road at San Blas, go left (east) a mile or so and then right and follow the signs to Matanchén and Santa Cruz.  You can't drive fast and you really have to watch out for unmarked topes but you never get more than 300 feet above sea level, the scenery is nicer and no trucks.  I relax and enjoy it.

I stopped for the night at Playa Amor TP, good spot, well recommended, GPS N 21° 28.47´ W 105°11.79´.  See page 154 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.  I had hoped to make at least Puerta Vallarta in one day but after 9 hours driving, I decided that tomorrow would do.  Km posts are not dependable here but Playa Amor is about 14 km south of San Blas or about 5 km north of Santa Cruz, both of which are off the road a bit toward the coast and you don´t want to go through them.

Full service gas at Las Varas about 42 km south of Santa Cruz. Continue south to Las Varas where this road joins highway 200 which continues southbound toward PV. GPS N 21° 10.80´ W 105° 08.25´.  At this point you are between km72 and 73 on highway 200 and PV is about km180.  The road varies from good to bad to under construction.  Well north of Puerta Vallarta the road becomes very winding and passing is impossible.  This will continue until many miles south of Puerta Vallarta.  There isn´t much south of PV in the way of tourist accomodations until Bahía Chamela, although you will pass Tomatlán junction, 12 km to Tomatlán which has the only shopping opportunities beyond the basics this side of San Patricio/Melaque, also a Pemex just south of Tomatlán junction.

Bahía Chamela has access from Pérula and Villa Polinesia.  The four trailer parks in the area are named Pérula, Red Snapper, Playa Dorada and Polinesia.  See pages 135-136 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping. Pérula junction is at km73 GPS N 19° 35.88´ W 105° 06.26´.    Turn southwest toward the coast and go about 1km on a paved road to find Red Snapper RV Park in its second year of operation.  GPS N 19° 35.31´ W 105° 07.41´, at my space.  Good wishes for a successful beginning.  It was quite popular this year.  A few blocks farther on you can find the TP called Pérula.  It is hard to find for the lack of signs but many people like it.  The one called Playa Dorada seemed to be the least popular.  See page 136 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.

The road to the south continues to be two lane, slow and winding but generally not too much truck traffic.  Go slow and watch for potholes and abrupt curves and don't try to average more than 35 mph. From here to San Patricio/Melaque I saw no RV parks until Boca de Iguanas at km16.  3 km down a paved road you find two trailer parks.  The first is called Boca Beach, page 135 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping,  which is large enough to handle caravans, though limited hookups for caravans.  Also there is a core group of those who return every year for the duration and have most of the better beachfront spots reserved. The second is called Boca de Iguanas.  See page 134 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.   It is about 100 meters farther at the absolute end of the road.  It is more laid back and smaller with fewer amenities but they have their own core group who like it that way. GPS N 19° 18.40' W 104° 49.15' at my space.

Beyond Boca de Iguanas there are some other places to consider.  Turn off at km13 to La Manzanilla which is a small town on the beach with several hotels ranging from basic to pricey but no trailer parks nor parking for trailers or RV's.  I like to stay in Hotel Posada del Cazador.  GPS N 19° 17.06´   W 104° 47.30´.  Gilberto Covarrubias, the owner, speaks good English. San Patricio/Melaque has a number of hotels and one trailer park.  La Barra de Navidad is larger and busier but no trailer park that I saw.  The propane plant is down the road another 15 minutes south of Barra de Navidad just north of Cihuatlán.  And finally we come to Manzanillo, Colima  which is a major tourist town and seaport about 50 km farther on with all the tourist facilities one could want.

La Manzanilla to Tucson 3/24/99:

Note: the peso exchange rate is now about US$1.00=N$10.00.

La Manzanilla to Jct. Hwy. 200 and headed for the turnoff to Presa Cajón de Penas 2:00, 76.6 miles.  Turn right (inland) 11.2 miles to P.Cajón de Penas, boat launch and restaurant, 0:30. Total time from La Manzanilla was 2:30, two-and-a-half hours. 

On Wednesday March 24 1999 I left La Manzanilla, Jalisco driving north on the highway 200 toward Puerto Vallarta.  The only Pemex between here and Puerto Vallarta is 29.7 miles north at La Cumbre which is also Tomatlán Junction.   This is a good secondary Mexican road with maximum practical speedof 55 MPH and of course slower for turns.  Careful, there some very aggressive topes, some unmarked or illogically located.  Driving time on highway 200 two hours and 76.6 miles. 

At km 130 (GPS N 20° 00.15´  W 105° 18.72´), I turned inland toward Presa Cajón de Penas on a paved road for 4.8 miles and then a hard gravel road for 6.4 miles, total time was 30 minutes. The road was signed well enough but you when you get there look for the south side of the lake and the launch area known as the Puerto Vallarta Bass Club. People from Puerto Vallarta and the area within a few hours from here like to come here to camp and fish for largemouth bass. This is dry camping. At the restaurant on Wednesday afternoon, I had a great dinner of chacales, a river shellfish that is a real taste treat.  These were large.  One of them filled a dinner platter.  Thursday I went fishing and ate a well-prepared largemouth bass (lobina).   I always ask for my fish to be cooked "tierno y blando no cocido tan duro".

On Friday morning I left for Playa Amor in Playa Los Cocos, Nayarit. On Friday March 26, 1999 I drove back to highway 200. Then to Puerto Vallarta 47.1 miles 1:26. Getting through Puerto Vallarta 12.3 miles 0:38. Puerto Vallarta to Las Varas 52.2 miles 1:44. Las Varas to RV Park Playa Amor 30.4 miles 1:05.Total excluding the road to the dam was 142 miles and 4 hours and 13 minutes.

I drove back to the junction with highway 200.  From there it was one hour twenty-six minutes and 47.2 miles to the sign that said "Bienvenidos a Puerto Vallarta".  If you were counting km posts, they sort of disappear in the hotel zone but it might be something like km 205.  The road was OK to El Tuito, practical maximum 45 to 55 MPH, but then is a twisty, windy, uphill and downhill road with little chance for passing.  Practical maximum speed is 25 to 35 MPH with some impressive potholes.  The scenery is good with some pine tree country so relax and enjoy it but be very alert for potholes.

The bad news in Puerto Vallarta is that it is a long way from the bienvidos sign to the north side of town.  You have already passed through a busy hotel zone south of Puerto Vallarta including Mismaloya.  From the welcome sign there are 3.9 miles more to the first Pemex and the first traffic light, about 10 minutes. To avoid downtown traffic take a right at the light to follow what is called the libramiento on the maps and go through the two curious cylindrical tunnels.  Watch for topes before and after.  Ignore all the turnoffs to "el centro" or others. Follow your nose and 3.1 miles after the traffic light you will merge back into Avenida México, the main street through Puerto Vallarta, the only street except for the tunnel bypass.  The signs point to Tepic. You will find yourself on a divided street with another separator on each side giving another road called a lateral in each direction.

This type of divided street with laterals is generally called a calzada.  From the two or three central lanes left turns are not permitted.   For a left turn from a calzada one must anticipate and get off to the right onto the lateral. (While generally in Mexico the right turn on a red light is illegal, on a calzada like this it can be downright dangerous.)  At the next traffic light there will be a left turn arrow to permit those on the lateral to make a leftturn across traffic safely.  Do not make a left turn from the center lane. It causes accidents and traffic tickets.

The system in Puerto Vallarta is incomplete.  By the time you get to the traffic light at the marina the laterals disappear and then construction begins. The next traffic light is at the airport and VIP´s.  There is supposed to be a Sam´s Club in the area but I didn't see it from the road. Next there is a great find. On the inland side of the street there is a Super Pemex, Est.  5186.   GPS W 20° 41.72´  N 105° 14.12´.  12.3 miles from the Bienvenidos sign or almost to the Nayarit border. This has a large free parking area in back with sparkling clean bathrooms and showers, all to get you to buy their gas and use the tienda.   When buying gas, large rigs should stay in the far right or far left line to the pump allowing you to go behind the building for an easy turn around.  Diesel is behind the building also. The tienda is OXXO.  OXXO is a bargain.  Instead of raising prices for us on the highway, they have prices pretty close to normal and a good selection. There is no restaurant here but they probably couldn't compete with all the Puerto Vallarta restaurants anyway.  This is also the last Pemex on the north side of Puerto Vallarta.

You soon cross the border into Nayarit, where time zones change.  Note unleaded gas $4.38 and 4.82 per liter, diesel $3.63. This Pemex is the last one in Puerto Vallarta north and is 12.3 miles north of the Bienvenidos sign.   This took 38 minutes in light (for Puerto Vallarta)traffic. Cross into Nayarit and change time zones.  Then there are three or more Pemex stations.  Gas is no problem on this road. The next good find is that there is a KOA campground a little bit north in Nayarit.  I lost count here but it is 3 to 5 miles ( 13 minutes through construction) north of the Jalisco/Nayarit border, a bit north of Nuevo Vallarta on the inland side of the road.  By highway count it is at km post 149 on the route to Tepic.  This campground is pricey but offers a lot of facilities.  Good value for Puerto Vallarta.   I will send a separate review. From the KOA I drove 7 more miles through construction taking 20 minutes to km 136. Then the road improves to 45 to 55 MPH.  From the KOA it is 47.6 miles or 1 hour 31 minutes to Las Varas where begins the scenic bypass around Tepic with no trucks and very little change in altitude.   It's about the same time and I avoid the long climb up to Tepic and back down again.

At km 72 is Las Varas. It's a good idea to top off gas tanks here.  Then find the left turn just past the Pemex (toward the coast)  to San Blas. GPS N 21° 10.78´  W 105° 08.21´.  Km posts reset to zero but there are a few confusing signs from an older system.  At km 9 is Zacualpan.  There is a Pemex on the right, maybe empty, then at the near side of the jardin see a small sign pointing to the left to San Blas. Counting from Las Varas go 26.5 miles to a tee. To the right is Tepic, to the left is Santa Cruz and San Blas.  This is a little jog to the left 0.5 mile then to the right at the road to Miramar, San Blas and Playa Los Cocos then 3.4 miles to Playa Amor RV Park at the north end of Playa Los Cocos and 0.7 mile south of Aticama where there are some good beachfront seafood restaurants.  I had a great robalo in the one called Lupita´s.  Total distance from Las Varas to Playa Amor RV Park is 30.4 miles and 1 hour and 5 minutes.  See previous comments on Playa Amor.   It's a nice park, much better than the review on page 154 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping, and a bargain.  GPS N 21° 28.48´  W 105° 11.78´.

Saturday March 27, 1999:
From Playa Amor to San Blas junction 9.4 miles, 0:20 Turn right at Guadalupe Victoria 11.6 miles, 0:20 To Villa Hidalgo 7.9 miles, 0:16 To junction with Highway 15 turn left (north)   10.1 miles, 0:21 To jct Santiago Ixcuintla 3.2 miles, 0:07 To Tuxpan jct. 8.9 miles, 0:13 Acaponeta 41.2 miles, 0:51 Sign "Bienvenidos a Mazatlán" 94.7 miles, 2:35 Confusing junction, Culiacán 15 bear left 0.7 miles, 0:04 Sign Culiacán-Nogales.  Identified as km 0  2.4 miles, 0:13. Old hwy 15 jct Cosalá, turn northeast 92.4 miles, 1:37. Total Playa Amor TP to jct Cosalá  281.5 miles, 5:20, To El Salto and launch site 6.6 miles, 0:20.

I left Playa Amor and headed north, 5.5 miles later there is a crocodile farm, Cocodrilos, which I had heard was well worth the visit but I didn't stop this time. 9.4 miles from Playa Amor is another junction which is jog left then jog right.  At the first junction see the sign Tepic right San Blas left.  Turn left (toward the ocean).  1.5 miles later cross the bridge and see the sign right to Guadalupe Victoria.  Turn right.  I have to warn you that this area has numerous dips in the road called vados, which can give you quite a jump for your rig.   Fortunately they are all made of white concrete which contrasts with the asphalt so keep your eyes ahead and slow down for any color change.  Also there bad curves not well announced so keep your eyes ahead and slow down for any curve approaching. 10.1 miles later is Guadalupe Victoria where you turn right (inland).  The road to Hwy 15 is unremarkable and seems fast except for one vado that is deep and asphalt, not white concrete, about halfway to Villa Hidalgo.  Also there is one of those little bridges that gave an unexpectedly hard jump so keep your speed down. 7.9 miles later is Villa Hidalgo (small Pemex seems to be always open when I'm there and busy) and then good 50 MPH road back to Highway 15, the highway from Tepic to Mazatlán.

Turn left (north).  Very soon you will cross Puente Rio Santiago and see a very large Pemex Es. 4753.  Looks good from the road but I couldn't see a parking area.  There was a long line here for the inspection station, which is usually here.  I lost about 20 minutes here in line but did not get inspected. From where the Villa Hidalgo road joins highway 15, it is 5.0 miles to the Escuinapa/Ixcuintla junction (don't turn here) and 8.9 miles more to Tuxpan.. Tuxpan Jct. must have been Km 70 or 72.  I couldn't be sure.  I crossed the bridge over Rio San Pedro Mexquital and got out of the construction into poor road 50 mph max with some dangerous curves through Acaponeta then the border Nayarit/Sinaloa at km 163, 50-55 mph with some bad spots.My guess is that the Mexican government has finally decided to direct major attention to that stretch of highway 15 from Mazatlán to Tepic, the last really bad piece of the road from Nogales to México, the city.  For the last two years there have been major delays for bridge construction.  Now we can expect highway construction for another couple of years at least.  Then another toll road!

Because this road is poor and dangerous at night I will mention some hotels that I have seen but not yet investigated which might be possibles in a pinch.  Esquinapa de Hidalgo is at km 200.   You might look at Hotel Virginia south of town.  I have stayed at Hotel Sta. Cruz on the north edge of town but there is parking only for sedans.  I had to leave my camper in an empty lot next door.  Rosario is at km 122.  At the south end of town is Hotel Yuaco with good parking which I have heard good things about. South of Mazatlán there is a Super Pemex at km 277 Es. 3996 Santa Lucia II. The km posts disappear here but 6 minutes later I saw the sign Bienvenidos a Mazatlán.  Less than one mile later I saw a sign Culiacán angle right arrow which I followed.  Another three miles to a sign Culiacán Nogales and Km post 0.  At 3km there is a choice,15 libre or cuota.  I took the free road. At km 12 is the propane plant.  Km 21 is the Tropic of Cancer, the northernmost travel of the summer sun.

I was looking for the lake El Salto.  At km 105, GPS N 24° 03.34' W 106° 47.76', is the junction to La Cruz (La Cruz de Elota on my map and not to be confused with Elota).  About 20 minutes to the left (west) on a pothole road there are some supermarkets and shopping.  But continuing north on Hwy 15 at km 106 is the signed junction to Cosalá and Presa El Salto.  I turned right(NE) inland then 6 km on a good paved road (about 15 minutes) to a turn off to the right then 0.5 km on a gravel road to Angler's Inn and the boat launch.  GPS N 24° 08.07' W106° 44.08'. Angler's Inn is a very nice layout.  Some buildings but mostly large new looking trailers and a very nice looking bar and restaurant.  Open only to people with reservations made months before.  Since I couldn't get into Angler's Inn I proceeded a short distance down the gravel road almost to the water's edge where I met an old man, Torre Navarro, who seemed to be the watchman for the fish co-op boats.  This was Saturday night, March 29,1999, and it got chilly and he built a small fire.  Then I met his son Juan and Juan's wife and his grandson Rufino.  We shared the fire and just one drink of tequila and talked for awhile.  He let me park by the side of the road for the night.  His sleeping quarters looked pretty temporary and may well have been below September's high water line.  Curiously their word for gringo was gabacho.   It didn't seem derogatory.  I believe that I could have rented a boat with fisherman guide but we never talked price.  I guess the usual US$100 per day. In the morning I watched about a dozen boats leave Angler's Inn soon after first light.  No Mexican fisherman showed up early and I kind of lost the notion.  So I left and went up to talk to the managers at Angler's Inn.  If one wanted to tow his or her own boat, the launching looked pretty easy at least at this water level.  Maybe a tip to the watchman.

It took 14 minutes to drive back to highway 15 (km 106) and 6  minutes to the north at km 111.5 is the Hotel Resort Glass House.  This was Palm Sunday and there was almost no clientele.  I spoke to the person in charge, Adrian Gomez.  He showed me some rooms for N$150.  The large, once grand, hotel is now economy. There is a large secure parking lot and he said boat trailers were OK. Restaurant and bar not in service.  Tel, 01-67-20-5696.  No FAX.  Small Mexican restaurant across the street.  More 7km north in El Espinal but remember this is bad country for driving at night.  A better bet might be something in La Cruz.   I had been told that there was a trailer park near there but I didn't find it and a town cop didn't know of it.  Driving through town I saw two good-size super markets and some hotels but I didn't check anything out.  I'd like to find that trailer park near La Cruz.  If anyone knows where it is please email me at llampe@azstarnet.com.

I went back to Hwy 15, saw the first Pemex at km 174 Es. 2957, El Salado. At km 193 there are two including Super Pemex Es. 3856, Aguila III.   Nice economy restaurant but I couldn't check out the showers and bathrooms.   Due to a temporary water problem they were locked.  Signs here pointing west to Costa Rica and Los Cascabeles Centro Recreativo.  I went 3.9 miles (6.5 km)toward Costa Rica and found a huge park with a lake, a restaurant and many facilities including a nice RV park. GPS N 24° 35.73' W 107° 18.30'.   I stayed a couple of days.   I will send in a separate review.

I drove back to Hwy 15 and turned north.  Ten miles later I saw Super Pemex Es. 4365 mini-super, loncheria, restrooms, showers, restaurant.   Popular with truckers but I didn't stop in.  Another half mile and I saw a Ley's where I did some shopping.  The Km posts change here.  In another half mile I saw km 1 and Super Pemex Aguila. 2.2 miles later I followed a left arrow to Nogales. Note that Hwy 15D runs west of town.  I was taking the free road, Hwy 15, so after about 10 minutes through Culiacán traffic I passed Los Tres Rios at km 10, 2.2 miles past the left turn.  I have stayed several times in the heat of the summer at Los Tres Rios and enjoyed the air-conditioned rooms, the large pool and the really nice restaurant.  There is a trailer park attached, which has not been busy when I was there.  There is a large Ley's and a bank next door.  Also disco next door.   Wal-Mart and Sam's are allegedly nearby. Culiacán is not a tourist town.  I occasionally overnight there when I am not sure that I can get to Mazatlán with plenty of daylight left.

Then at km 10 Super Pemex Es. 3413, Centro Trailero II ready to open "Super Servicios Soon".  At the south end of Guamachil I saw the Motel York, which looked possible from the road.  Hwy 15 merges with 15D 14 km north of Guamachil.  At km post 121 I saw Super Pemex Es. 4999, which advertised Parts, Super, Restrooms. I lost sight of the km posts at Guasave.  Guasave is actually larger than it looks but the highway passes overhead on a bridge about 1km long.   At each end of the bridge is an exit to town.  At either end the exit is to the right so you don't cross traffic.  That is northbound traffic exits at the south end of the bridge.  The sign pointing to Sinaloa de Leyva to the northeast is visible in the middle of the bridge.  I left the highway at the south end, at GPS N 25° 34.75´  W 108° 27.63´, and followed the signs to Sinaloa de Leyva because I wanted to go to Lake Baccarac.  I did stay once in Guasave at Hotel El Sembrador on the south side of the highway.  It was quite nice with lots of secure parking.  It was a bit pricey for me but I considered it a very good value.  If you have the time for the drive to Las Glorias on the beach, friends gave strong recommendations to Mr. Moro Hotel and Resort where they had stayed in November.  See page 102 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.

The highway passes just northeast of Los Mochis.   There are two major exits to town.  At the southernmost one Hotel Las Colinas is visible on the hill to the east.  See page 103 of Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping.  I have stayed there although it is well out of my normal price range.  There is an attached trailer park but it did not seem to be open.   Not very far to the north is the other exit that takes you west on Lopez Mateos and very quickly to Los Mochis Copper Canyon T.P. which friends have recommended.  There are numerous hotels in Los Mochis in the middle price range.

I continued north to Hermosillo where I stayed at my favorite Hotel La Siesta (GPS N 29° 05.84' W 110° 56.55') on the north side of town on Blvd Kino through the hotel zone.  It is not pricey and very good value at that. It has good parking though not big enough for RV's and it has a very good restaurant.   North of Hermosillo the road was a 45-55 mph road.  At km 146 I had breakfast in the tiny restaurant at Servicio Llano.  I was not impressed. South of Santa Ana there is a propane station at km 165.  This would be a good place to fill propane tanks at Mexican prices.  It is opposite the Lavafacil that advertises regaderas.   At km 166 I saw Santa Ana RV park advertising full hookups.  Restaurant Elba in Santa would have been a great place for breakfast.   I enjoyed my previous meals there. I continued on to the inspection station at km 21 south of Nogales where I turned in my vehicle permit and found a pleasant surprise.  They have completed a short toll road which starts a couple of kilometers north of the inspection station and goes directly to the Mariposa Gate which I was told is officially Nogales Gate #3 or Puerto Fronterizo Nogales III.  Then follow Mariposa road to Interstate 19 to Tucson.

Lou Lampe  llampe@azstarnet.com

 

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