How far to Mike's?
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  Northern Baja Expedition

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May 12 - 16, 2008

Dual Sport Motorcycles   --5 Days--   Novice/Intermediate Difficulty

This five full days of dual sport adventure touring will see us riding to and through many landmark locations, including Mike's Sky Ranch, Gonzaga Bay, Coco's Corner, Laguna Hanson, Arroyo Calamajué and more.

Five full days of riding, making a grand loop of northern Baja.  A fantastic variety of riding terrain awaits you on this tour.  From the cool pine forests of the mountainous  regions of the north... to arrid, cactus strewn deserts, dry sandy lakebeds and arroyos, and best of all... to the beautiful beaches. There's even some good ol' Mexican asphalt thrown in for good measure.  This is a fully supported and guided trip. Meals, accommodations (double occupancy), and fuel are provided for you. We take care of everything but your alcoholic beverages.  Here's our itinerary:

Day 1-- The border to Mike's Sky Ranch

Note: Roll your mouse onto photos for descriptions.

We'll rendezvous early for breakfast in San Diego, where if you didn't ride down with us, you'll meet and greet for the first time the GripTwister crew and your fellow riders before crossing the border together in Tecate and obtaining our tourist visas as a group. Then we'll head east a few miles on pavement before turning south onto dirt into the mountains, as we make our way towards Mike's Sky Ranch, the legendary off-roader's oasis perched high in the mountains by a beautiful stream.

Who says long, straight two tracks can't be fun?

Getting some air

Your tour guide

Riding up big rocks is fun!

We'll travel through the Constitution National Park, where the high altitude brings cooler temps and beautiful pine forests, then head southeast towards the fertile Valle de Trinidad via tracks frequently used in the SCORE Baja races. After refueling, we'll head up to Mike's on more Baja race course routes. A nice size water crossing marks our arrival at Mike's.

A two-track near Laguna Hanson.

Coming up on Laguna Hanson

A section of the road into Mike's that's in good shape.

On the way to Rancho Mike's

The Courtyard at Rancho Mike's

Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you'll marvel at the swimming pool in the manicured courtyard while dining on a huge steak dinner, followed by some bench racing with new friends over a drink or two in their unique bar before hitting the sack. If it's a clear night (and it usually is), you'll want to take some time out to stare up at the beautiful Baja sky for a truly awe inspiring moment.

Day 2-- Mike's to Gonzaga Bay

We'll depart early from Mike's, making our way out the long dirt road to the highway. Time and conditions permitting, a contingent may take the "back way" out of Mike's, rejoining the group at the highway.
A water crossing going out the back way from Mike's.

On the way out of Rancho Mike's

Then we'll head east for the seaside town of San Felipe and the Sea of Cortez. We'll take the "back way" into San Felipe through Laguna Diablo, where you can let your inner "Baja racer" come out to play for a while on the huge dry lakebed.

Taking time out for photos on Laguna Diablo during an unsupported ride.

Love that sky!

Laguna Diablo

In San Felipe, rapid new land developments have been spurred on by Americans who've discovered that a warm, beachside getaway is available for less than half of what they'd spend in California. We'll gas up and grab lunch at one of it's restaurants on the "malecon", or boardwalk before continuing south. At one time, the road leading to Puertecitos was one of the most horrible paved road in the world, with man eating potholes impossible to avoid, but this stretch has just recently been paved. However, the new "vados", or dips in the roadbed are so steep and abrupt that careful attention must be paid so as not to hit one at high speed unprepared for it. On the other hand, if you are prepared... they can be utilized as motorcycle launching pads! Before too long, the nice new pavement ends at the small town of Puertecitos, where many an American expat calls home.


From here to Gonzaga Bay, the road is harsh and winding, with huge rim bending rocks sticking out of the roadbed everywhere and occasional stints of long straightaways with washboard so stiff and tall you'll forget you're on a "highway", but the views of the Sea of Cortez meeting the desert are simply spectacular, and you'll realize in quick order that this road was just meant for a motorcycle!

The Beautiful Sea of Cortez

The Beautiful Sea of Cortez

Reaching our destination, we'll enjoy a tasty dinner as we look out across beautiful crescent shaped Gonzaga Bay towards Punta Final from Alfonsina's, a fly-in restaurant and motel that's popular with private pilots from the US.

Looking towards Alfonsinas from the

Looking across the bay to Punta Final at sunset.

Looking towards Puntafinal from Alfonsina's

Day 3-- Gonzaga Bay to Camalu

Gonzaga Bay 180 Degree Panorama
Sunrise over the Sea of Cortez

Wake before sunrise, and you are in for a real treat here, as they don't get any better than this. After breakfast, we'll mount up and head south to Coco's corner, where we'll stop for a cool beverage while enjoying the company of this Baja icon. After chatting for a bit and signing his book, we'll head to the beautiful Arroyo Calamajué to take an "off the beaten path" route out to paved Highway 1.

Road To Calamajue

One of several water crossings in the arroyo

Posing for a photo near the fountain of youth

Bighorn sheep, the "Fountain of Youth", ruins of an old Spanish mission, and a large vein of green slate cut by the arroyo are but some of the things we'll likely see in this, the most difficult bit of terrain on our trip. After a bit of a workout, we'll turn onto Highway 1 and head up to Cataviña as our journey takes a northerly turn.

The Cacti Grow Thick

As we approach Cataviña, you'll see enormous boulders scattered about the land as if by the hand of a giant, -some in large piles forming small mountains- while growing everywhere in between are a myriad of cactus and the fabled cirio trees of Baja, nicknamed "Boojum".

The Cirio tree, nicknamed Boojum

The Boojum is the strangest tree you'll ever lay eyes on, some growing into all kinds of stange contortions.

Passing by an occasional spring, we'll even see the rare "blue palms" of Baja. We'll grab lunch in Cataviña, where after filling our bellies, we'll fill our tanks before continuing north on Highway 1 through high desert country. Nothing boring about this stretch of pavement, however, as we're cruising through some stands of cactus that could only be described as "forest"... it's so thick.

Is there anyplace you'd rather be??

The Cardon cactus can reach pretty high

Heading off pavement once again, we'll pass several turquoise mines in the hills as we take the "backway" up to Camalu, where we'll stay in a great hotel right on a bluff overlooking the Pacific ocean. And once again, being only 1 day after the new moon, you'll marvel at a night sky like no other.

Day 4-- Camalu to Laguna Hanson

We'll depart early, heading right up and along the coast, as we've got some ground to cover today. As has been much of our route at one time or another, we're riding on routes used in the Baja 1000 races. The views of the ocean are fantastic in places, and it's easy to imagine this desolate coastline being lined one day with expensive gringo homes as has happened in other parts of Baja.

The Mighty Pacific

Feel the cool breeze.

We'll grab a taco lunch in Erindira before continuing up the coast. Soon though, the route turns inland as we make our way through some of Baja's "wine country". A few more miles and we're gaining some serious altitude quickly, as our route meanders towards the Constitution National Park once again.

Kids LOVE the motos!!

Heading through the mountains.

The increasingly thick pine forests are an indication of our altitude as well as our proximity to our last night's destination. We'll do a little sight-seeing from our bikes as we drive through the National Park that surrounds Laguna Hanson, with it's nice campgrounds at the "lake's" edge before heading to the nearby lodge we're staying at.

Laguna Hanson in the summer.

A fitting dinner of venison, if you like, awaits you at the day's end. A soft bed combined with the fresh mountain air should be all you need to combat the thoughts rushing through your head of the good times and great riding you've enjoyed over the last 4 days that threaten to keep you awake all night.

Day 5-- Laguna Hanson to San Diego

We'll enjoy a hearty breakfast at the lodge before heading north through mountain two-tracks towards the paved highway that mean the end of our trip is nearing.

Mountain Roads

It's a good bet we'll see other off-road riders on our way out, as the mountains in this area are loaded with good riding of the single track variety as well. A brief stint on a high-speed tollway gets us to Tecate, where you'll enjoy all the tacos you can eat as we take our last meal together as a group. We'll cross the border in Tecate and enjoy the leisurely ride through the California countryside back to San Diego and the staging area before saying goodbye and exchanging contact info with new friends.

Price:  $1599 USD

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Includes all meals, accomodations (double occupancy) and fuel.  Transportation and lodging for you, your bike and riding gear to and from the staging area in San Diego is available at an additional cost of $400.  A $500 deposit reserves your place, with the remaining fee due not less than 30 days prior to the tour.  If you cancel 60 days or more prior to the tour date,  you will be refunded all monies paid.  Cancellations less than 60 days but more than 30 days from the ride date will forfeit the deposit.  No refunds will be given for cancellations less than 31 days prior to the tour. Once you have paid your deposit, you'll be granted access to the participant's section of the website, where additional information about travelling in Mexico on motorcycles, as well as info on insurance, exchanging money, etc. and a bulletin board where you can get specific questions answered is available to you.

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