Ride to the Observatory in the National Park Sierra de San Pedro Martir


After a few days on the beach with nothing else but food and cervezas, it was time for me to jump back on the bike.

I talked to Kiki, the camp’s owner, and he showed me on the map some nice places to go ride. Since I was by myself, I asked him how technical the road was, and mostly how sandy, since a big 500 lbs pig can get stuck very easily. He told me that I shouldn’t have any problems going to all those places with a big bike. But I later realized that this was coming from a former Baja racer.

I woke up around 6 o’clock on Monday morning and did the regular routine: pushed the bike out of the camp, went to OXXO (the Mexican 7eleven), had coffee, sandwich and a bag of peanuts, which would be the meal for the day.

As I was riding out of town I could see to the East the sun almost rising and to the West, just above the mountains, the full moon was bright orange.

The only directions I had for the day was a map I had from Kiki, and my notes. I had no Mexican maps on the GPS, so I was using the GPS just to track places I was going, so I can find my way back in case I got lost.

Outside San Felipe, at the storage place, I left the highway and went on the gravel road. Right away I was charged by 5 dogs. I was in a playful mood and I was going slow, so the dogs could catch up with me. Once they got close enough, I pinned the throttle, started fishtailing the bike, and left the dogs with a mouth full of sand.

I rode out into the desert until the first crossroads. Kiki told me that when I would see a dead cow at the crossroad, I should turn right. So there it was (the first Mexican road sign that helps).

Now I was heading towards Laguna Diablo (Dry Lake). Soon enough the sand started to be deeper and deeper. I shortly realized that when the locals mention sand, they have a different meaning for it than we do. I thought I knew sand and that I could ride it no problem. But this one was a totally different definition of it. I made it through without a crash, and then I found myself in this big opening called Laguna Diablo. This is where my racing hormones kicked in. And before I knew it, I looked down and I was doing 130 km/ hr.

Got back to Hwy 3 into San Matias, and then back on the gravel towards Mike’s Sky Ranch. The road elevates to about 4000 ft (about 1300 m) and the scenery changes dramatically, with lots of vegetation and nice ranches on both sides of the road. The ride is a lot of fun, twisty, not too sandy and rocky, up through the mountain (recommended to intermediate riders). Then I went through a water crossing, and right after that I was at Mike’s Sky Ranch. Looks like a nice place, but I didn’t see anyone around. Finally a lady came out and I confirmed with her that the road to El Coyote Ranch was the one that I was looking at, just behind Mike’s Sky Ranch. I asked her for “gasoline”, she said no, and I was on my way. From this point everything changed from a good road to a really technical climb, a lot of washouts, big rocks, not something that I would recommend doing by yourself on a big bike.

Within 10 minutes after leaving Mike’s the road climbs from the bottom of the valley to the very top of the mountain, and drops down just as fast on the other side. I started to hear Kiki’s words in my head “Be careful, there’s two roads that you can take from Mike’s to El Coyote, and one of them is washed out”. When I saw a six foot drop in front of me, I realised I had taken the washed out one. I stopped my bike and started walking to look for a spot down in the ravine and up on the other side. First one that I came across was doable, but if I had to come back the same way it would have been too steep to climb. I walked a little bit more and I found a safer place to take my bike down through the water and up to the other side. From that point until I hit El Coyote Ranch, the road was just as bad, lots of washouts, sand, big boulders, to sum it up a lot of fun for a guy like me.

El Coyote Ranch is a very nice place, scenic and “muy tranquilo”. I met three American guys riding their bikes there, and they were really surprised to see me riding there on a big bike. Alfredo, the owner of El Coyote, is a very nice and friendly guy. I bought some gas from him, and I asked him if he can contact Camelia in San Felipe if I decided to stay there over night.

I hit the road towards the Observatory, through The National Park Sierra de San Pedro Martir. This is a really nice twisty paved road climbing from sea level to almost 3000m in the National Park. It was the first part of the trip where I could just lay back and enjoy the view and the music in my helmet.

Just before I entered the park I was surprised to see a sign saying that you are not allowed with a motorcycle in the park. But you can drive a car in the park. I just ignored the sign and kept going. When I reached the office, after a little debate with the ranger, he let me ride my bike in the park, with the promise that I would stick to the road.

Two km before the Observatory, there was a closed gate. Few minutes later, a local worker drove by in an old Beetle, and he was so nice to give me a ride. His English was just as good as my Spanish, but that didn’t stop us to have a good conversation and a good laugh on the way to the Observatory.

On the way back, I was considering stopping at El Coyote for the night, but I was having too much fun riding my motorcycle, so I decided to return to San Felipe. This time I took a different route back to avoid the big wash out I went through in the morning. It was still very technical, but not too bad. As my fuel was going low in my tanks, I started to feel that the bike was lacking power (which is the first sign that the fuel filters get clogged from the bad gas). At some point, going down the hill, my bike stalled and I knew it was time to take some pictures and let the bike cool off, because my fuel was probably close to the boiling point. But after a short brake, everything was fine and I had no problem all the way back to San Felipe.

Overall, this was a 10 hours’ ride. Once I got to San Felipe, I must have had 1000 tacos!

All day riding I was thinking about my friend Matt and how he would have enjoyed this ride with me. I was also thinking about my friend Cristan, but then I said to myself “No, I would’ve had to pick up his bike way too many times” J

I realized how much I missed riding after a few days’ break. A big thanks to Kiki for telling me about this spectacular trail!

Categories: Mexico | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Ride to the Observatory in the National Park Sierra de San Pedro Martir

  1. Sounds amazing! I really want to go to Peru!!

    I run a feature on my blog where I speak to people who’ve recently travelled somewhere interesting, just a mini interview and a few of their photos, plus a link to their blog/website/flikr etc. It’s a pretty successful feature, and it looks like this http://emilyluxton.co.uk/category/postcard-from/.

    If you’re interested in taking part I would love to have you, just send me an email – eluxton@hotmail.co.uk

  2. Dorothy

    Wow Vasile – I’m breathless just READING about that ride.

  3. Perry & Marian

    Vasile, riding in Vanc will never be the same again! How is Camelia doing?

  4. That for sure! I am getting better, thank you. I hope next week I will be ok to ride and we can keep going. Turned out I had whiplash too, and this takes a while to heal but it’s getting better.

  5. Diana

    buna, Cami
    citesc cu rasuflarea taiata despre aventura voastra!!! E absolut fantastic, “beyond words”. Dar ai grija si fa-te bine repede! I will be thinking about you, pupici
    Diana Cretu

    • So good to hear from you, Diana, and so glad to know that you are following our blog! Yes, it is quite an experience, you are right. And I promise to get better:) I am back on the road since yesterday. It still hurts, but it will get better in time. Miss you so much! Kisses!

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