Nogales to San Carlos/Guaymas via Mex 15
Date: February 16, 2001
Logged By: Mike and Terri Church
Vehicle: 19-foot Class B Van
Note: This is the first day’s drive on the very popular route down the west coast of Mexico. The entire drive as far as Mazatlán can be done on four-lane highway, the only real obstacles are the border permit stops and the drive through Hermosillo. The stop for the night is in San Carlos which is just a few miles north of Guaymas.
000.0 Miles (000.0 Km) -- This drive begins at Exit 4 on Interstate 19 which runs between Tucson, Arizona and Nogales. Unlike most highways in the U.S. this one is marked in kilometers, Exit 4 is four kilometers north of the border.
Take the exit here, it is marked Exit 4 and also Mariposa. After the exit turn west and follow Mariposa toward the truck crossing which is west of town. This is the best place to cross in the Nogales area since the truck route will take you around the Mexican town of Nogales and connect you with the highway south of town.
003.0 Miles (004.8 Km) -- You will pass to the right of the U.S. border station and cross into Mexico. Continue straight following the sign for Hermosillo Cuota 15D. You do not stop for an inspection here, that happens a little farther along. A sign gives the distance to Hermosillo as 260 Km. A road to the right would take you to Nogales Centro.
You will find yourself on a toll ring road that circles Nogales. It has limited access, in fact fence lines it to keep anyone from entering or leaving. That’s why you didn’t have to stop at a border station.
006.8 Miles (011.0 Km) -- Km 7 marker. These markers count down to the intersection of the ring road with Mex 15 south of town.
008.3 Miles (013.4 Km) -- Toll booth. The toll here is just for the ring road around Nogales. Rates: autos - 30 pesos, 2 and 3 axles - 60 pesos, 4 and 5 axles - 105 pesos.
008.9 Miles (014.4 Km) -- At a Y in the road go left. You are approaching a customs inspection station and the right leg of the Y is for trucks, RVs and cars go left.
The station is closed when we stop but there is no sign saying so. A man came out and waved us through.
009.0 Miles (014.5 Km) -- Km 2 marker.
010.7 Miles (017.3 Km) -- Another Y. Go straight (left leg) and you will merge with the traffic on Mex 15 headed south from Nogales. If you took the right leg you’d go back north to Nogales Centro.
Pass Km 264 marker as you merge. This is the distance to Hermosillo. You will find yourself on a 4-lane highway.
014.8 Miles (023.9 Km) -- Km 258 marker. Pemex #3771 on the left with magna, premium, and diesel. There’s lots of truck parking and access is good.
015.4 Miles (024.8 Km) -- Turn off to the right for parking to get Tourist Cards and Vehicle Permits. There is usually plenty of room to park large rigs, this is one of the best places to cross into Mexico with an RV due to this fact. It's also a good place to return to the states since there is usually a special kiosk set up to take back your hologram sticker.
On this trip we already have both Tourist Cards and Vehicle Permits since we’ve been traveling in Mexico for several months so we just continue straight and pass through the customs checkpoint. We are don't get inspected by customs but they do take a look at our vehicle permit.
023.4 Miles (037.7 Km) -- Pass through the town of Cibuta with a few topes (speed bumps) but easy driving.
The section of road after Cibuta often has no shoulders.
043.8 Miles (070.6 Km) -- Entering the town of Imuris, population 10,000. Easy driving.
044.3 Miles (071.5 Km) -- Cutoff for Mex 2 to the left. This is the major highway that goes east-west across northern Mexico just south of the border. It is marked for Agua Prieta, Cananea, and Chihuahua.
044.4 Miles (071.6 Km) -- Pemex #2319 on the right. It has magna, premium, and diesel. It’s medium-sized with poor access for big rigs, there is no truck parking.
045.7 Miles (073.7 Km) -- Leaving the town of Imuris.
054.1 Miles (087.3 Km) -- Km 196 marker.
054.0 Miles (087.1 Km) -- Sign saying Bienvenidos a Magdalena. Prepare to exit to bypass the Magdalena toll station.
054.2 Miles (087.4 Km) -- Exit on the right for Libra route through Magdalena. It’s at Km 194. If you stay on the highway you’ll have to pay a toll and the route through Magdalena is pretty easy.
After the exit you’ll find yourself headed south on a two-lane paved road. Most of the trucks from the highway will be taking the same route.
055.2 Miles (089.0 Km) -- Cutoff to the right for the road to San Ignacio. Continue straight.
057.0 Miles (091.9 Km) -- Pemex with no number on the left. It’s brand new and has magna, premium, and diesel. It has good access and a little truck parking.
057.5 Miles (092.7 Km) -- Km marker 185. About here you are entering the outskirts of Magdalena. The sidewalks start in another half-mile or so.
See our book Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping for details about campgrounds in this area.
058.4 Miles (094.2 Km) -- VH Supermarket on the right just past Km 183, poor parking for big rigs.
058.6 Miles (094.5 Km) -- Pemex #2321 on the left, it has magna, premium, and diesel and has good access.
058.8 Miles (094.8 Km) -- Pemex #2323 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. It’s small but has OK access.
058.9 Miles (095.0 Km) -- Stoplight.
059.2 Miles (095.5 Km) -- Stoplight.
059.5 Miles (096.0 Km) -- Cross bridge and leave town. Stands selling strings of chilies are on the left.
060.5 Miles (097.6 Km) -- Km 180 marker. Merge back onto Mex 15D just after the Km marker.
069.3 Miles (111.8 Km) -- Entering Santa Anna, population 19,000. Easy driving.
069.8 Miles (112.6 Km) -- Pemex #2311 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. Medium-sized but only OK access.
Just past the Pemex on the right is the cutoff for Mex 2 to the west.
069.9 Miles (112.7 Km) -- Pemex #2312 on the right with magna, premium and diesel. It’s small and has poor access for big rigs.
074.9 Miles (120.8 Km) -- Pemex #3811 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. It has good access and a big truck parking lot out back.
082.9 Miles (133.7 Km) -- Pemex #3264 on the left with magna, premium and diesel. Good access and some truck parking. The town of Estación Llano is off to the right.
125.5 Miles (202.4 Km) -- Rest area Guadalajara on the left at the Km 77 marker. It has a restaurant.
130.7 Miles (210.8 Km) -- Pemex under construction to the right. Will have magna, premium, and diesel and it looks like they are putting in a large truck parking area.
152.1 Miles (245.3 Km) -- Km 34 marker.
152.9 Miles (246.6 Km) -- Cutoff to the left for Pesqueira. This also the cutoff for the Libre traffic, many trucks take it to avoid the upcoming toll booth. We’ve not driven the free route so we can’t tell you about road conditions.
Immediately after the cutoff on the left is Pemex #4561 with magna, premium, and diesel. It has good access for big rigs and a large unpaved parking lot for trucks in the back.
162.6 Miles (262.3 Km) -- Km 17 marker.
163.6 Miles (263.9 Km) -- Toll booth. This is for the short 15-mile section of road between the Libre cutoff
at 152.9 above and the second cutoff at 167.6 below. It you take the free (Libre) road, however, the distance is much greater. Rates: autos - 50 pesos, 2 and 3 axles - 78 pesos, 4 and 5 axles - 116 pesos.
167.2 Miles (269.7 Km) -- Pemex #3556 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. It is a large station with great access as well as truck parking.
167.6 Miles (270.3 Km) -- The free road traffic comes in from the left.
170.7 Miles (275.3 Km) -- Pemex #3784 on the left with magna, premium, and diesel. No access from southbound lanes but there is a retorno just beyond for southbound traffic and good access from northbound lanes.
171.9 Miles (277.3 Km) -- Km 2 marker. Prepare to take the ring route around the southeast side of Nogales, the intersection is just ahead.
173.1 Miles (279.2 Km) -- Intersection with stop light. You can tell it is the right one because Pemex #2543 is on the far corner to the right. You want to turn left here. The route is marked Periférico Ote.
After the left turn you will find yourself on a crowded boulevard. Just relax and drive carefully. This is the toughest part of today’s drive but it’s really not that bad.
174.6 Miles (281.6 Km) -- The road comes to a T and traffic turns left although the route is not marked.
Almost immediately after you turn left the traffic goes right. Turn right along with the other traffic. Pemex #5864 is on the corner on the far side. Poor access.
175.5 Miles (283.1 Km) -- Road passes over a bridge over a cement-lined canal, the canal is dry today.
177.3 Miles (286.0 Km) -- Prison on the right.
177.7 Miles (286.6 Km) -- Pemex #5864 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. Not good access for big rigs.
178.3 Miles (287.6 Km) -- Chihuahua cutoff to the left. Do not take. The road we are on winds around to the right.
178.4 Miles (287.7 Km) -- Pemex #3461 on the left with magna, premium, and diesel. This is a major truck depot with truck parking in the back but is a madhouse and best avoided.
179.3 Miles (289.2 Km) -- Major intersection with stoplight. Turn left here to head south on Mex 15D to San Carlos and Guaymas. The turn can be identified by Pemex # 1648 on the right just before the turn. It’s a poor place to gas up for rigs turning to the left. We turn left.
If we were headed for Kino Bay we'd continue straight at the intersection and then take the road out to Kino Bay which goes left in a few miles from the western side of the ring road. There's also an easier route through northern Hermosillo that will take you to the Kino Bay highway. We drove it later in the year and may include it in a later log.
179.7 Miles (289.8 Km) -- New Pemex under construction to the right.
180.4 Miles (291.0 Km) -- Km 251 marker. As you will see from a sign just beyond the km markers count down as we head south and end at Ciudad Obregón. The sign says Guaymas 125 km, Ciudad Obregón 250 km.
183.2 Miles (295.5 Km) -- Pemex #3802 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. It has good access for big rigs and a restaurant. There is some truck parking next door.
213.1 Miles (343.7 Km) -- Pemex #4522 on the left with magna, premium, and diesel. It has good access, a restaurant, and some truck parking.
230.3 Miles (371.5 Km) -- Pemex #3521 on the right with magna, premium, and diesel. It’s large with good access and truck parking. A side road just before the Pemex takes you on back roads to Bahía Kino. There is better access to the main Bahía Kino road from the Periférico around Hermosillo which is easier driving on the west side of town than the section on the east that we just drove. In other words, if you’re going to Bahía Kino we don’t recommend taking this cutoff.
250.6 Miles (404.2 Km) -- Pemex #3531 on the left between the north and southbound lanes. It has good access for big rigs and a restaurant.
You are approaching the cutoff to San Carlos and Guaymas. If you stay on Mex 15D you will pass though a toll booth that can be avoided by driving through Guaymas. Almost everyone does this because they overnight in either Guaymas or San Carlos.
250.8 Miles (404.5 Km) -- Cutoff right for San Carlos and Guaymas. We turn right and take the cutoff. After the cutoff you are still on four-lane highway.
253.0 Miles (408.1 Km) -- Km 135 marker.
254.5 Miles (410.5 Km) -- Cutoff for San Carlos to right. Guaymas is a few miles straight ahead. We turn right for San Carlos. After the turn we are on a quiet boulevard through the desert. The next driving log starts at this point.
259.8 Miles (419.0 Km) -- Entering San Carlos.
See our book Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping for information about camping in the San Carlos/Guaymas area.
Copyright © 2001 Mike and Terri Church