Snow in Baja! Visiting Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir
Most of the time when we think of Baja we imagine sun, beaches, surfing and fishing. Well did you know that Baja also has a beautiful national park with a 10,000 foot peak ( Picacho del Diablo aka Mount Diablo ) and snow! We took a trip to Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park just before Christmas to experience this wonder of Baja for ourselves.
The Park sits about 5 hours south of the border just east of the town of San Telmo de Abajo. The drive is easy and full of magnificent views of the ocean, wineries, grand valleys and towering peaks. We had no idea what to expect as we climbed up the mountains but we knew that at the end there should be snow.
So, with two cars packed of family friends, my girlfriend and myself, we left La Salina and headed south. We stopped in Ensenada for some last minute supplies, and were sure to fill up on gas once we hit San Vicente. You never know if you are going to be able to get more gas after the turn off so it is important to fill up. If you do happen to need gas once near the park, Meling Ranch sold us 5 gallons for 500 pesos or ~ $30 USD. The turn off from the Transpeninsular Highway ( The 1 ) is approximately 87 miles ( KM Marker 140 ) south of Ensenada near the small town of San Telmo ( about 30 or so miles south of San Vicente ). You need to be looking to your left for the sign that leads you towards the park. It is a large sign and is easy to spot and makes for a great photo opportunity. From this sign it is 100km ( 62 miles ) all the way to the Observatory but only around 50 miles to the entrance of the park.
The views from here on out are spectacular as you wind up into the mountains.
Once you hit the park entrance you will need to pull over to pay ( 61 pesos per person, kids under 6 and seniors are free ) and register. The process only takes a second and gives you a good chance to see the cabins that are available for rent and take more pictures.
Once at the entrance of the park the ranger has quite a bit of helpful advice on places to camp in San Pedro Martir as well as current weather conditions at the observatory and how to get there.
There is really only one main road going through the park but there are quite a few beautiful side trails to head down to discover beautiful meadows and see the local wildlife including Coyotes and California Condors.
Although the weather was a little unforgiving while we were there, when you are at the Observatory on a clear day you can see both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortes. If you are very lucky you may actually get a glimpse of main land Mexico as well.
All in all this is one of the most beautiful places I have seen in Baja. Not just because it seems completely out of place in Baja but because it is truly untouched and breathtaking. I highly recommend making the trip down or even just doing a quick side-trip on the way further down.
Some helpful links:
- Google Map of the turn off of highway 1
- Rancho Meling - Large ranch capable of housing large groups or families. About 30 minutes from the entrance to the park.
- Baja Dark Skies Ranch - Another place to stay that is close to the park entrance that offers Casitas and Camping
- Observatory website