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Driving Information From Reader

Zacatecas

Fall, 2007

The following information comes from Mark Dunn, resident of Zacatecas. The first section deals with access to the Hacienda del Bosque after completion of the new intersection just north of the hotel. There is also information about new bypass routes around Zacatecas. This information was compiled during the fall of 2007.

Please note that we have not driven some of these routes. Also note that it is important not to drive a "heavy" rig, one with duals, through Zacatecas. You'll probably get a ticket if you try. Use one of the bypass routes.


Access to Hacienda del Bosque

I hope this might be of help now that the intersection of Mexico Highways 54 and 45 outside of Zacatecas has been completely constructed and signed. The Hacienda del Bosque (not to be confused with the Hotel del Bosque) sits right next to this new interchange so there are four different approaches depending on where you are coming from. This is the intersection where Mex 54 from Guadalajara joins 45, splits from 45, or joins it depending on how you want to look at it, and the direction you are coming from. Mex 54 and 45 meet northwest of Zacatecas as 54 comes from Saltillo and 45 from Juarez. For about perhaps 10K they run together as one highway. The new intersection is very well signed both for the Hacienda and wherever else you are going.
1. From San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes, and through the city. (From San Luis approximately 40% of the highway is 4 lanes, another 40% under construction with much to be opened soon, and 20% not touched yet.) If you choose to drive directly through Zacatecas city, it is a six lane boulevard, with buses usually gumming up the far right lanes in either direction. Four new overpasses within the city have eased congestion. If you don't mind traffic which can vary from none to moderate with 1:30-3:00PM being the heaviest, and don't have a single axle small rig over 18' (NO trailers) it is an entertaining drive. Over about a quarter mile of this in the very center of the city is being constructed a second story of traffic lanes to avoid the only two traffic lights left. Once this is done one will be able to drive right through the middle of Zacatecas and never need to stop.You will get your eyes full of contemporary Zacatecas as the historic Zacatecas is about two blocks to the north. Don't get any ideas about finding parking as you do not want to leave this wide boulevard unless you are in a van. It is all uphill as you will cross the Continental Divide at the top. (You will pass the turn off to the Hotel del Bosque, already mapped in the guide. It is the exit to the right at the Pemex to the right, follow the main flow of traffic to a STOP sign at a glorieta involving two bridges, take the third right, the one just before the huge statue of Juarez, and go two miles.) Keep heading basically west on this six lane as the city thins out. You will approach an intersection indicating choices for Aguascalientes or Durango-Guadalajara. To reach the Hacienda del Bosque, you want Aguascalientes. Keep in the far left lane, drive up onto the overpass, and the exit will curve off and bring you onto the Pesado / Libramiento, or the free truck route. Get immediately as possible into the left lane. The Hacienda is on the left. Once the concrete divider ends on the left,  and you have a left turn lane here, you simple turn as the sign indicates. Traffic will usually allow very frequent opportunities to make this left across the lanes coming towards you, so do not panic at the idea.

2. From San Luis Potosi and Aguascalientes via the truck route to the Hacienda del Bosque (also note the alternatives under bypasses around Zacatecas city). As you approach Zacatecas city on Mex 49, which combines with 45, and west towards Zacatecas from the junction of 49 with the cuota highway from Aguascalientes, Mex 45D, you will see signs at an overpass intersection for the Libramiento/Durango/Centro SCT (highway department). Bear right with many trucks and busses, and loop back up and over Mex 49. This bears basically south for perhaps a mile and then at a "Y" gently curves to the right. Sometimes, obviously this route has trucks on it, less so now that the quota bypass, and other times oddly devoid of them. Nice vistas of the city from above. This route is curvy and has hills, so there can be double trailer trucks crawling along. About halfway around the city you will come to an overpass intersection indicating a turn to Guadalajara city and a street called Cinco Senores. If you have no plans on staying in Zacatecas this night, and you are going to Guadalajara, to can go this way. It is an alternative extension of the Pesado/Libramiento and joins Mex 54 about five miles south of Zacatecas city. You can also wait and turn towards Guadalajara on Mex 54 in another few miles. You eventually reach the intersection in number 1 above, as indicated by signs and turns for other major cities, with the Hacienda an easy right immediately before reaching this intersection. This well signed.

3. From Guadalajara to the Hacienda del Bosque. As you approach Zacatecas city from the south, there will be a Modelo/Corona beer distributorship on the left. Get into the right lane as signs for "Ruta Pesado/Libramiento/Aguascalientes" indicate you should be. This is the intersection mentioned in 1 and 2 above. Do not go straight over the overpass. Bear right onto the pesado/libramiento towards Aguascalientes, then get into left lane as Hacienda is coming up fast. You will see it to left, and turn immediately after concrete divider ends. There is a left turn lane here to get you away from traffic. Again, you are making a left across three lanes of traffic, but there are frequent lulls in traffic so this is not a problem.

4. From Juarez and Fresnillo, Mex 49/54 southbound, to the Hacienda del Bosque. You will again approach this same interchange on the combination of Mex 54 & 49. You will know you are there as there will be sign for a right turn towards Guadalajara on Mex 54. Do not turn towards Guadalajara. Continue straight on the Pesado/Libramiento/Aguascalientes route and in a very short distance, just after you go UNDER the overpass you will see the Hacienda on the left. Again you are making a left across three lanes of traffic, but you have left turn lane to get you out of traffic.

Remember that there a lots of taxis, busses, and hotel shuttle to get you to the Cento part of Zacatecas from the Hacienda which is out on the edge of the city and ten minutes from the very center of the city. You will find a lovely city with incredible street life, a vibrant cultural calendar of almost multiple nightly events available at the Turismo Office on Hidalgo, friendly and helpful people, several incredible museums, parks to rest in, good eating, etc., etc. We live here and while we drive through the central city, we taxi, walk, or bus in for shopping and other events. Finding a place to park can be quite challenging. As you can see, we like this place. Altitude is high so evenings are cool and afternoons hot, cool and hot being defined by whatever the seasons are. January and February can be chilly, meaning lows in the high 30s, low 40s F. and highs in the low to mid 60s F to mid 70s around 2:00 PM. All year the high altitude sun is hot. Palm trees grow here in the parks so this is not the Arctic. From March through November the weather is a delight, and in the hot months of later April and May it is an escape where the mid-80s are the norm. June through early October can be the "rainy season" when the mountains turn shamrock green if you can imagine that. "Rains" usually mean afternoon showers of short duration, not deluges which last days. It is cool here all Summer after that "hot season" ends in May; www.weather.com and www.accuweather.com have us listed. Weather aside this is an astonishing city full of hospitable people.



Access to Hotel del Bosque

There are several ways to get to the Hotel del Bosque, not to be confused with the Hacienda del Bosque, without going through the city. We like the Hotel del Bosque because it does not have a busy highway and busy railroad tracks right next to it as the Hacienda does. The downside is no sewer hookup, although there is water and electricity. You can negotiate with them as to where they might let you park. In the past, they would allow us to pretty much park where we wanted, and run a cord through a window into a nearby room. The Hotel del Bosque has undergone serious renovation in the past eighteen months, and is a very serious uptown place, so the rules might have changed. The real plus of this place is the usual quiet and it is a five minute walk to the city center.

1a. To the Hotel del Bosque from Juarez. Northwest of Zacatecas turn left or north towards Saltillo on Mex 54. This part of 54 from this corner to the Villa de Cos junction is now four lane. You drive immediately past the edge of the small town of Morelos, but keep going north up a long but not particularly tedious hill. Just over the top of this hill there is a right hand turn for Veta Grande. Take this right and start up a long uphill grade that will take you through some hilly terrain. You will actually be a thousand feet higher than Zacatecas, or 9300' at the top. The views are amazing, or we think they are, and there are actually pull-offs for rigs the size of a bus. You cross the toll/cuota mentioned below. Don't get on it unless you are heading immediately to Aguascalientes or San Luis Potosi. At a junction further on do not turn left into Panuco or Veta Grande. You can see dozens of mines along this route. Eventually you reach the top and a gradual decent towards Zacatecas which you will be looking down on. You reach a major intersection. Straight ahead is signed Bufa which has parking lots large enough to land a 747. If you have the time do this for many reasons including a view of the city that will take your breath away, do it even if you are flying through. To left is signed Solidaridad, but do not go left. Go right which veers off at an angle . Keep going "straight" on the obvious main traffic route, avoiding all the streets branching off at every conceivable angle. You may see signs indicating Fresnillo, and an airport symbol. Follow these. Past this Bufa/Solidaridad corner to right you will see a funky pink castle like building after the right immediately above. This is Bracho, site of the Morismas the very end of August (imagine a reenactment of the battle where Cervantes lost his hand with many thousands of players) and below the castle a large metal canopy which is where the Pope held mass a decade ago. It is said there were a million people here. So you keep straight ahead on what in reality is the north Libramiento, which has no trucks, and within about two or three miles of the above junction you will arrive at the Hotel del Bosque on the left. Big sign announcing this. Transcontinental buses drive down the driveway into the hotel so no need to be timid. You have arrived without having to contend with any city traffic.

2a. To the Hotel del Bosque from Saltillo on Mex 54. After passing through the very small village of Poso de Gamboa, an important junction covered later, with a new overpass finishing construction, continue on 54 approximately five miles and you will see the Veta Grande junction to right mentioned in 1a above. Follow those directions from this corner.

3a. To the Hotel del Bosque from San Luis Potosi or Aguascalientes. There are several ways to do this. Below I describe two ways to totally escape Zacatecas city. I include there alternative ways to the Hotel del Bosque and Hacienda del Bosque. Here I describe how to get from Mex 49 and 45 onto the north libramiento. The Pesado/Libramiento/Centro Sct turn explained in 2 above is the south libramiento. So, yes, there is a circle around the city and the guides usually never mention the north section for many reasons which have been remedied in the last year. Coming into Zacatecas you pass UNDER the first overpass with the turn to the south libramiento/Centro Sct mentioned in 2 above. Keep straight ahead on the six lane, and do not take the libramiento/SCT turn. Less traffic out here. You pass under another overpass, a narrower one. You go OVER another overpass in about a mile. Keep going straight on the six lane and there is another overpass. Look sharp! You have three alternative turns here. The obvious is straight ahead over the overpass, or to the right a wide ramp/street heading up a fairly steep hill.  Between the two is an exit sandwiched into almost a narrow slit. It is signed Retorno/Guadalupe Centro. You have two options. The hill to the right is official, but if you do not like the look of the hill and beware of the unsigned tope at the bottom of it, take the middle option.  At the light, turn right onto a four lane boulevard. This looks like a residential area, and it is, but it is also the north libramiento which will become self-evident in about a quarter mile. Some nice topes the first quarter mile, which then breaks into an obvious bypass/libramiento. Keep straight until you approach a light and a sign that indicates right to Bufa/Veta Grande/Saltillo. Take this right, up a slight grade, down through a valley, and up a steeper grade to an obviously major intersection.  You are at the intersection described in 1a above. Bufa to the left, Veta Grande and Saltillo to the right. You want to go straight, which is unnerving as the continuing highway on the other side of intersection dips enough so that you are not sure there is any road there, and veer to left, the only way you can go. Go "straight" following the obvious main route, ignoring all the streets branching off at all angles, and within a two or three miles the Hotel del Bosque is on the left. Again, there is a sign announcing this.

4a. To Hotel del Bosque from Guadalajara. As you approach the junction as in 3 above, follow those directions as if going to the Hacienda, but about the time you see the Hacienda on the left there will be an exit for Zacatecas curving off to right. Follow this and you end up on a six lane boulevard towards Zacatecas. In perhaps two miles you go UNDER an overpass. Look sharp! Take the next right hand exit before this second overpass up a small hill. Usually traffic coming from left then. Get into this traffic stream and immediately to left. Continue left across the curving overpass. Once off this overpass get to right lane. Ignore fist street to right, almost straight ahead, as you come off overpass and keep arching to left. Ignore second right, Quebradilla street, signed with lots of arrows to different hotels, but the next immediate right you take. The thirty foot high bronze of Benito Juarez should be on your left. To right big 4x4 meter sign about Hotel del Bosque. In two or so miles, right turn to Hotel del Bosque with good sign announcing this.

Zacatecas Bypass Routes

Now, other routes either new or ones that are discovered from living in a city for many years. Better signage has also helped the process. There has been a great emphasis on highway construction over the past six years in particular, both brand new roads and renovation, and they have realized the value of signs.

Want to escape Zacatecas entirely? You will weep to know that for years there was and still is a free way around. North of the junction of Mex 54 from Saltillo and 45 from Juarez, on 54 is the very small pueblo of Pozo de Gamboa, and a junction of an good asphalt highway heading south which I believe is Zacatecas 155. A new overpass is currently finishing construction at this junction. If you take this road south around Tacoaleche and through Zoquite, it joins Mex 49 east to San Luis Potosi and west to Aguascalientes cuota at Santa Monica. Santa Monica is where the "cones" are, actually point up cone shaped former grain silos. At Santa Monica there is an overpass over Mex 49, and all is well signed for Tacoaleche at that end if coming from south. This is about two miles east of where the new toll road route to and from Aguascalientes joins Mex 49. The only topes are through Zoquite which is another small pueblo. There are a few tractor-trailer trucks that know of this route, and they pass without difficulty so you can too. Always just continue "straight", ignoring other signed roads branching off.

Another surprise is that the "new" toll road to/from Aguascalientes use to end on its northern end at Mex 49. Now it directly meets another toll/quota which takes one from this point of Mex 49 east of Zacatecas to near the junction of Mex 49 and 54 northwest of Zacatecas city next to the Servicio Morelos Trailer Park. On this new quota, there is an exit in either direction for Veta Grande. If you get off at this junction, go north and one meets Mex 54 to Saltillo. One can, of course, continue straight on the quota to where 49 and 54 meet at Servicio Morelos, too. At the Veta Grande interchange, if one heads south they are on the road described previously in 1a, you are heading for the Hotel del Bosque. I know that some resent toll roads here in Mexico, and granted they can be expensive. Concerning the new toll from Zacatecas towards Aguascalientes. This bypasses a string of small towns on the free road which include Ojo Caliente. This particular stretch of road is choked with trucks and has at least a half zillion topes. The cuota around this costs twenty seven pesos for two axles. Both ends of this new quota bypass are well signed with eleven signs at the northern end as an example.

Living in Zacatecas I have never taken this new Zacatecas quota bypass from Mex 54 to Mex 49 & 54, so I do not know how one gets off the new bypass to the camping facilities at the Servicio Morelos. If coming from the north it looks like, and I do not stake my life on this, that you do take the turn for the bypass with the eleven signs, but do not get on it. Instead go towards Saltillo, Mex 54,  about a half mile and on that corner one finds Servicio Morelos. If coming from the south, it seems that one is forced to get on Mex 49 towards Fresnillo and Juarez. If this is the case one would need to take the retorno to left in less than two miles and backtrack towards the junction to Saltillo mentioned above. One could also get off the northbound quota bypass at Veta Grande, drive north towards Mex 54 to Saltillo, but take a left at that corner which will take you to Servicio Morelos in about two miles.

Another observation is the previously mentioned parking lot up on Bufa, the one for landing 747s. I suspect that one could dry camp there without any officialdom complaining. It is a pleasant downhill, very downhill walk into the city and there are always a wealth of taxis to ferry one into this beautiful city and back.

Lots of combinations of roads here, and whatever you need to do I hope that this makes your travels just that much more of a pleasure. This is a tribute to all the people who have helped us figure out not only where we were, but how to get where we were going. Forgive me if I have scrambled something.

Mark Dunn
Zacatecas, Mexico

 

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