Baja Highway 1 Road Report
I just made the drive from Cabo San Lucas to Tijuana and here is the most recent road report for the Baja Transpeninsula Highway 1 end of September 2015. These photos are from a GoPro window mounted so excuse the reflections or bugs. There are a lot of insects on the highway after the recent rains so you might want to bring along a way to clean your windshield between gas stops. One quick note is in the corridor between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas has a fair amount of construction around the Dreams / Ventanas Hotel area so if you are driving to or from the airport from Cabo or places north keep this in mind as the new highway is still not open even though it appears to be finished.
Cabo San Lucas to Constitución
Leaving from Cabo there is only one area of highway construction along the pacific corridor north of Rancho Nuevo ending at the Jungle Bar/ Art n Beer area of Pescadero. They are tearing up the new highway in order to put culverts for drainage so there is a section of 2 lanes closed. Too bad they did not do this when constructing the highway in the first place. Passing through and heading north from La Paz there is a little area of construction in the Centenario area. Further north you find a short detour going around an area where the road was torn out by flooding from Tropical Storm Linda. They are working quickly to get it repaired and even though it is a short section the raging waters really ripped it up good.
Constitucion to Santa Rosalia
From there on through Constitucion there is nothing till you reach the Loreto area and most of this has been cleaned up. North of Loreto you will find a detour that is short but rough. No problem passing any of the detours in small cars, RV's or pulling trailers as long as you slow down and take it easy. There was a military checkpoint north of Loreto that for once seem to be fairly thourough. They actually were opening cars and looking in them rather intently but very courteous and professional.
Santa Rosalia to Guerrero Negro
On through Santa Rosalia you may see the piled up mud that has been scraped from the highway and in town as well as a little to the north it can be very rough road. Up the Cuesta del Infierno and then as it flattens out you will find 2 long detours (Desviacion). The first from the south is very dusty and over a mile long.. It is rough and winding so go slow and expect trucks to slow as there is little room to pass the trucks headed southbound. The next detour just to the north is probably a mile or more as well but it was well watered and packed so not must dust just rough going so take it slow.
Guerrero Negro to San Quintin
Further north to Guerrero Negro the road can be very rough in areas as well in town. Once north into Baja Norte you will find some sections have been re-paved or at least patched but as you get closer to Cataviña you will find the road rough in many areas and some serious pot holes. This are has been like this for the 30 years that I have driven Baja. My guess is that it is a long ways south in the state Baja Norte and I'm sure it is not easy to fund or find road crews to really clean it up and re-pave it.
The highway winds through the Vizcaino desert to the foggy coast at El Rosario and the regular military check ppint to the north of town was open and checking north and southbound traffic. From there along the coast to San Quntin area where the highway is rough again with lots of slow traffic from farm vehicles, trucks and buses. This area is very slow going and probably will not be getting any better for years to come. Just take it slow as passing a lot does not really get you through it much faster. One of the reasons US I-5 to Mex 5 south of San Felipe may well become the more direct route to Baja California Sur in the future.
San Quintin to Tijuana
Once passing through these farm areas that have a few small areas of construction you will enter the Valle de Santo Tomas area where they have widen the road and have another quck military checkpoint. Once you start up out of the Valley and the way north to Ensenada you will find intemitten road work. These short intermitten areas of construction really pop up quickly and their transitions are abrupt so slow down or you may cause damage to your vehicle.
The Manandero checkpoint area was closed completely and did not look like it was to be opening again any time soon. Once into Ensenada expect more traffic of course but no real construction areas along the coastal route from there to the border. One note is the Salsipuedes area where the highway completely collasped north of Ensenada, has been fully repaired and except for one small area near there, all lanes are open. The current cost for the toll is $31 pesos for a car and you will pay 3 times between Ensenada to Tijuana for $93 peso total.
On to and through Tijuana there is not much in construction just lots of traffic. The San Ysdiro border was a realtivey short wait for all lanes about 30-40 minutes. I did however after all these years of driving over the border make a major mistake. I used Google maps in TJ to get to an entrance to the border area that I was not familiar with. Once I was in line I realized it was a SENTRI only access! No way to exit all the way to the border. This is not well signed as it says "San Diego 5 and SENTRI" but not SENTRI only . Well I asked an CBP officer and he said to just go through. They let me do it one time, scolded me and put me through secondary for really no reason. They never inspected anything but made it clear that was a one time freebie and the next time I went through a SENTRI lane wihtout the permit it was a $5000 fine. One note when I asked a Mexican who was walking by while I was in line and he immediatley said his boss could take care of it. He came back with another guy who said to go through a specific gate and I would'nt have to pay the $5000. Then he wanted 250 usd and I asked for what? I did not end up in this lanes on purpose, It was an honest mistake. I told him no as he lowered his price to $500 pesos eventually and I knew then it was a scam and that I was sure the border patrol wouldn't fine me.
However now that they recorded by plate and passport I had better not end up in the SENTR lane ever again though. Overall the drive was better than the last time I drove it about 2 years ago. They seem to be makiing it better everywhere they can. The San Quintin, Colonet area will always be slow and I do believe that the laternatate I-5 to Mex 5 route along the Sea of Cortez may become the main route to Southern Baja once they paved the last 35 kilometers of it.
Next week I'll be headed southbound again and I may try the Mex 5 route south out of San Felipe to Laguna Chapala to Guerrero Negro. I will post a report for that route if I drive it. Safe travels and mucho ojo! (Mexican way of saying "Be careful, keep your eyes open!")