13/El Dátil to Mulegé

Distance: 90.3 mi (145.3 km)

Notes: one of the most challenging rides on the Baja Divide is from La Ballena to San Miguel following storm-damaged roads in a canyon, 3” tires recommended, resupply in San Ignacio for this section and minor resupply in El Dàtil for the ride to Mulegé, reliable surface water in canyon from La Ballena to San Miguel, big descent from San Miguel toward Mulegé, mission and oasis at Mulegé

Warning: the ride from La Ballena to San Miguel is very strenuous, major resupply in San Ignacio for the ride to Mulege

Resupply: El Dàtil-fW, Mulegé-FWMCR$ Bus

Crossing from coast to coast in Baja California always ensures a diverse range of experiences, terrain, and communities. The route continues away from El Dàtil on dry lake beds for ten miles, climbing just a few hundred feet to rejoin the main dirt road. Turn upstream at La Ballena toward San Miguel. Although the route only slowly gains 1500ft in over 40 miles, the road through this valley has been damaged in dramatic floods in 2013-2015. The road remains intact as the few families which reside in the valley continue to use it, although it appears that no official road improvement has taken place. Thus, this stretch of road alternates between very sandy sections, loose cobbles, and water crossings. The two major redeeming qualities of this section aside from the important connection it makes, are the canyon scenery and persistent surface water, thus reducing the burden required by the rider. La Ballena to San Miguel will take most of the day, and it will be a challenging ride. It never really gets any harder, but it takes a while.

If you select to skip this ride though the mountains and the ride along Bahía Concepción, continue south on the main road towards San Juanico, turn back into the mountains towards La Purísima and rejoin the route at San Isidro.

The road beyond San Miguel is firm, once you climb out of the main drainage. After a few short hills to a final pass, a very steep road descends the Sierra de la Giganta toward the Sea of Cortez. Storms have also damaged the road on this side of the mountains, but government money and equipment have repaired the road so that it once again serves as the main link between San Miguel and civilization. After a roller coaster descent from San Miguel, the final miles into Mulegé are mostly flat and unremarkable until you are very near town, where you encounter several large farms, and eventually, the shaded oasis of Mulegé, and the large estuary leading out to the lighthouse and the Sea of Cortez.

Mulegé is another great place to relax for a day, and features abundant resupply, restaurants, cheap motels, and places to swim. The mission church and the lighthouse are worthy diversions. The freshwater flowing into the estuary, crossed by a low concrete bridge, is warm although not quite hot. Two routing options exist south of Mulegé. The main route, requiring a boat ride across the bay, accesses a challenging and unique coastal route. However, a number of variables may impede that crossing and a simple alternate is offered. The highway south of Mulegé traces the western edge of Bahía Concepción, famed for it’s incredible beaches. In combination with a small shoulder, this is the best section of MEX1. The alternate joins the Baja Divide at El Rosarito, a truck stop and restaurant ten miles south of the bay. 

Next section: Mulegé to El Rosarito