BajaNomad

Possible new campground at palomar canyon near guadalupe

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 02:15 PM

Hey there
I am hoping for a little feedback on a project that i am about to start in baja.
I have the opportunity to start up a campground south of canyon guadalupe in canyon palomar... i have been going to guadalupe since i was a child and my family built several of the pools and palapas there over the years. Problem is guadalupe is getting expensive and its hard to get a spot. I have made a deal with the owner of palomar to get something going there and we will start working on the road in and cleaning up the palm grove soon. I guess my question for the forum is, if i build it, will they come? It is pretty far off the beaten path. Maybe only for large groups, or guided tours?? Any input is much appreciated.

David K - 10-31-2017 at 02:41 PM

OH YES!
Please know you will have as much support online as possible from several of us on Nomad.
I have not been up Palomar Canyon, but Ken Cooke, BAJACAT, Neal Johns, are just a few who have.
Do you know Steve Schott?







Several photos in Palomar Canyon: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=15078

[Edited on 10-31-2017 by David K]

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 02:47 PM

Cool!
Yea i know steve from gc l... he hooked me up with some silvee fan palms from guadalupe for my house in san diego. Hes the plant man!!

David K - 10-31-2017 at 02:54 PM

Steve (his handle here is 'HotSchott', but hasn't posted since 2011) is a friend since he introduced us to Guadalupe Canyon back in 2001. I am the one he can blame, for him becoming a landscape contractor!

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 03:06 PM

Classic!! Its a small world. Especially in baja!!

David K - 10-31-2017 at 03:14 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Aveinthebox  
Classic!! Its a small world. Especially in baja!!


Here he is in Vibora Canyon, south of Guadalupe Canyon on our last trip (2008) [before Arturo was removed/retired from operating his beautiful Campo #1].



Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 04:27 PM

Classic!! Its a small world. Especially in baja!!

AKgringo - 10-31-2017 at 06:51 PM

Welcome to the forum, new viewpoints, and knowledge are a good thing!

You are talking about an area that I would like to explore, do you anticipate being there in the near future?

I hope to be heading south soon, and have no destination in particular. If the road is passable with a decent 4x4, I would like to check out your planned operation.

Maderita - 10-31-2017 at 07:55 PM

Yes, Cañón Palomar is way off the beaten path. Difficult to guess how many would venture that far and pay for camping.
My good friend runs cattle at Palomar. I don't recall the ownership details. Is it the Dukes family in the Ejido Cordillera Molina?

Be sure to get very clear about ownership, leasing, and whether the ejido has voted agreement and registered with the government to divide/sell property before investing a dollar in any project.

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 09:23 PM

Tito dukes runs cattle up and around there. He rents from the owner (his nephew) to get water out of there. For now i am just signing up to help the owner with water works, basic cleanup, and trying to See if we can spark some interest. I figure there has got to be some overflow from gc ready for a spot that is like gc was 30 years ago.

Ken Cooke - 10-31-2017 at 09:34 PM

My latest info about Palomar Canyon was in late January. A Jeeper from San Diego attempted the road in but he was stopped by a boulder field part of the way in. A flash floods had ravaged the flood plane as you drive in, making the route impassable. It is a breathtaking place to visit. The difficult road and remoteness keeps people away. This could be good and bad. Good luck to your new venture!

A quick look at the boulder field a few years ago


My wife examining the hot spring water at Palomar


[Edited on 11-1-2017 by Ken Cooke]

Maderita - 10-31-2017 at 09:58 PM

Interesting project. Your idea of inviting groups might work well. There are numerous cuatro por cuatro (4x4) clubs in northern Baja from Tijuana Tecate and Mexicali. Also, there is an emerging adventure/eco tour market, growing exponentially. They look for those off the beaten path places, presumably with lower-cost camping. Palomar could become a desirable destination for those groups.
In addition to that, moto and UTV/Razor groups seem to be increasing exponentially on the Sierra de Juárez plateau/Laguna Hanson/Compadre Trail. If you had a reliable source of gas in barrels, you might attract motos who would otherwise be restricted by fuel range.
Yes, my friend is close with Tito and the Dukes family. Dukes are one of the few big longtime ranching families of the Sierra de Juárez. My burro, "Cuervito", came from Tito's wild stock in one of the canyons.

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 10:09 PM

I made it through the bouldee field in november. Got all the way to spring in a ram 2500. Had to machete the way thru the palm grove. Nobody been there in years. The plan is to fix up the roads with a big cat. Cover over the boulders etc.
I am working out of my ranch in the salada so base camp amd gas supply is no problem. I think a couple of guided tours would be a good start too.

Barry A. - 10-31-2017 at 10:21 PM

I camped several times at the Palomar Canyon palm grove back in the '60's, and again in the mid-'70's, and at the mouth of Palomar after it washed out. One of the most beautiful canyons on the eastern escarpment.

What a great idea and spot for a campground! Hope it all works out.

mtgoat666 - 10-31-2017 at 10:35 PM

I have not seen but a handful of nicely-done low-impact fee-campgrounds in Baja. Probably the only one i am familiar with is SPM, where the camp spots are widely spaced and natural state remains. Most of the campgrounds in Baja are ruined by too much grading, too many constructed amenities like palapas - these improvements get junky really quickly, and the extensive grading just leads to weedy mess, or lots of bare dirt.

Leave the canyon in semi-natural state, a couple picnic tables and fire rings, widely-spaced camp sites so people don’t have to hear and see each other,...

The location is pretty remote, and too hot for half the year,so you’ll get weekend traffic for 6 months. Perhaps 75 to 120 nights per year occupancy. Figure average of 5 heads per night, $4/head/night. That’s $2,400 per year total sales. You won’t make much money, probably won’t cover costs, so don’t get hopes up. The cost of a dozer for a week of road work is probably $5,000.
And floods come down canyon every couple years, so plan on average of $2,500/year just for road maintenance.
Good employees (or any employees) are hard to find in the boondocks.

Good luck!

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 10:37 PM

Good imput! I really agree on the low impact part.
Keeping it real baja is definitly in the game plan.

November last year

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 10:41 PM



IMG_3759.jpg - 109kB

Palm grove

Aveinthebox - 10-31-2017 at 10:43 PM



IMG_3760.jpg - 166kB

wilderone - 11-1-2017 at 08:52 AM

"Leave the canyon in semi-natural state, a couple picnic tables and fire rings, widely-spaced camp sites so people don’t have to hear and see each other,... "
DITTO THAT.
Reasonable fees, not necessary to build fancy tubs, patios. Maintenance of the road essential; and current website with conditions, contact info.

David K - 11-1-2017 at 09:13 AM

To go that far off road and pay to camp, the attraction must be high. Hot springs that you can soak in would be it. Being far from crowds (Guadalupe Canyon) is the next attraction. Beauty, such as the palms, canyon, wildlife, another attraction. Facilities are nice and comforting for many, but less important to attract campers. They include toilets, tables, palapas, trash cans, a store with basic needs and beer.
I wish you success!



mtgoat666 - 11-1-2017 at 10:46 AM

Quote: Originally posted by David K  
To go that far off road and pay to camp, the attraction must be high. Hot springs that you can soak in would be it. Being far from crowds (Guadalupe Canyon) is the next attraction. Beauty, such as the palms, canyon, wildlife, another attraction. Facilities are nice and comforting for many, but less important to attract campers. They include toilets, tables, palapas, trash cans, a store with basic needs and beer.
I wish you success!


you need a mini-mart at your campground?



Aveinthebox - 11-1-2017 at 11:20 AM

Just focusing on getting a hot pool up and running
Getting a somewhat passable road
And clean up of the palm grove

I will burry an 24 pack of corona and geo cache it 😂

wilderone - 11-1-2017 at 11:25 AM

Many US campgrounds ask that you pack out what you pack in, i.e., there are no trash cans - especially in bear country. I know this isn't bear country, but a requirement to not leave trash behind was not a problem. A distant, ecologically sensitive locale for camping, requiring "someone" to regularly and properly dispose of trash would necessitate extraordinary effort on the part of a Palomar crew. Or it may just end up in some other pristine canyon, scattered and blown all over. I don't think a store is necessary - I certainly would not expect it - if you're going that far, you better be prepared. A few cases of beer, water and colas that he can make a profit from would be nice. Or if you have some locally crafted trinkets for sale (no expiration date on that). Or someone coming by to sell trinkets, or like the bakery van that used to come by Bahia Conception - super cool!

David K - 11-1-2017 at 12:21 PM

Quote: Originally posted by wilderone  
Many US campgrounds ask that you pack out what you pack in, i.e., there are no trash cans - especially in bear country. I know this isn't bear country, but a requirement to not leave trash behind was not a problem. A distant, ecologically sensitive locale for camping, requiring "someone" to regularly and properly dispose of trash would necessitate extraordinary effort on the part of a Palomar crew. Or it may just end up in some other pristine canyon, scattered and blown all over. I don't think a store is necessary - I certainly would not expect it - if you're going that far, you better be prepared. A few cases of beer, water and colas that he can make a profit from would be nice. Or if you have some locally crafted trinkets for sale (no expiration date on that). Or someone coming by to sell trinkets, or like the bakery van that used to come by Bahia Conception - super cool!


Totally agree on this, if you can bring it in full, you can take it out empty!

I was surprised to see trash cans in the San Pedro Mártir Park's camping areas. However, having seen what happens at other Mexican camps with trash, I get it.

Goat, try reading... "Facilities are nice and comforting for many, but less important to attract campers."
Guadalupe Canyon (Arturo's) had this, served food, and he was busy.

Now, I am not sure if individual hot tubs are possible at Palomar. At Guadalupe, the source spring is higher than the campsites. Gravity (and PVC pipes) brought the hot water to all the private campsites. In addition, they had a huge swimming pool with warm water, year-round. The campsites were high above the stream in the canyon bottom so flash floods didn't cause damage. Wind and fires or vandalism were the enemies at Guadalupe... and eventually greed.

It was a great run, Canyonman Rob had a good thing going for a few years, but we all get old and if the kids aren't interested, the place dies.

mtgoat666 - 11-1-2017 at 02:44 PM

Quote: Originally posted by David K  
Quote: Originally posted by wilderone  
Many US campgrounds ask that you pack out what you pack in, i.e., there are no trash cans - especially in bear country. I know this isn't bear country, but a requirement to not leave trash behind was not a problem. A distant, ecologically sensitive locale for camping, requiring "someone" to regularly and properly dispose of trash would necessitate extraordinary effort on the part of a Palomar crew. Or it may just end up in some other pristine canyon, scattered and blown all over. I don't think a store is necessary - I certainly would not expect it - if you're going that far, you better be prepared. A few cases of beer, water and colas that he can make a profit from would be nice. Or if you have some locally crafted trinkets for sale (no expiration date on that). Or someone coming by to sell trinkets, or like the bakery van that used to come by Bahia Conception - super cool!


Totally agree on this, if you can bring it in full, you can take it out empty!

I was surprised to see trash cans in the San Pedro Mártir Park's camping areas. However, having seen what happens at other Mexican camps with trash, I get it.

Goat, try reading... "Facilities are nice and comforting for many, but less important to attract campers."
Guadalupe Canyon (Arturo's) had this, served food, and he was busy.

Now, I am not sure if individual hot tubs are possible at Palomar. At Guadalupe, the source spring is higher than the campsites. Gravity (and PVC pipes) brought the hot water to all the private campsites. In addition, they had a huge swimming pool with warm water, year-round. The campsites were high above the stream in the canyon bottom so flash floods didn't cause damage. Wind and fires or vandalism were the enemies at Guadalupe... and eventually greed.

It was a great run, Canyonman Rob had a good thing going for a few years, but we all get old and if the kids aren't interested, the place dies.


How did greed manifest?

Aveinthebox - 11-1-2017 at 02:49 PM

Average camp at cg runs about $80 per car per night... most camps have two or three car min. I don't know about greed... i guess its what the market will bear, since its pretty much booked solid through april.

David K - 11-1-2017 at 03:25 PM

Just from the evidence I have seen/ heard, my opinion is:
The family, who operated the south side and above Arturo's (north side), were (apparently) very jealous of Arturo's huge success. Instead of trying to provide the level of camping that Arturo provided, they simply forced him out, so campers wouldn't have a choice and would have to use their camp if they wanted to stay in the canyon.

Arturo's Campo #1 at Guadalupe Canyon offered:
Private campsites, each with its own tub (made with natural rocks and the boulders). A palapa or two were in each site, each site had its own driveway. There were a few 'not so private' spots too, for less money. You could have a weekend camp, your own hot water tub and usually not hear or especially not see anyone else. It was worth the rather high cost (for camping).

The other campos had tubs that are pretty open to the rest of the camp, the noise was high (people/ music), and there just was no special ambiance like Arturo's offered.

Some photos of Arturo's Campo #1 sites/ tubs:




El Sol (Mary Ann Humfreville)


El Mirador


El Mirador


La Cueva


La Jolla B


La Jolla B


La Paloma


La Paloma


La Jolla A


San Marcos


San Marcos


San Marcos




The swimming pool (always warm).






La Jolla B (was our favorite), we do miss the place. Halloween weekend 2008 was our last time camping there, with Hotschott and Val...






La Paloma (Hotschott's favorite site).

Another nice thing about the hot spring at Guadalupe, no strong sulfur smell... It started at 140° at the source and by the time it was piped to your camp the water was still over 100°. Each tub had a garden hose with a shut-off valve to fill or spray the water (cools it that way). A plastic quart bag with sand would serve as a drain stopper. Empty the tub when you leave and the desert sun bleaches the tub clean.



[Edited on 11-1-2017 by David K]

wilderone - 11-2-2017 at 07:48 AM

$80 per car + 2 or 3 or MORE cars per site? I haven't been there in about 15 years - New Years when some yahoos started a fire in the palm trees with fireworks. Crowds at each camp site, plus $80 per car will keep me away. I remember the first time I went in the '70's - $10/night. There were no palapas, no picnic tables. The tubs were concrete lined depressions with a hole at the upper end for water to flow in - you put a sock or old towel in the draining end so it would fill up. Heaven! There should be limits on the number of cars per site, number of people per site, quiet time rules, no fireworks, no littering. Charge per person. The people who come and want peace, quiet, and to enjoy the natural setting will enjoy a simple camp. Give me a road where I won't get stuck in the sand and I'm there. All the best to you Aveinthebox.

David K - 11-2-2017 at 07:55 AM

That is how the other side of the canyon operates, sadly.
Arturo had no minimum car numbers but did have a 2 night minimum I think on weekends? It was $50-60 per night in the site La Jolla B, that we liked. His El Dorado site was the only one that could fit more than 2 cars. Ken Cooke's group stayed there.



KurtG - 11-2-2017 at 08:21 AM

Quote: Originally posted by wilderone  
There should be limits on the number of cars per site, number of people per site, quiet time rules, no fireworks, no littering. Charge per person. The people who come and want peace, quiet, and to enjoy the natural setting will enjoy a simple camp. Give me a road where I won't get stuck in the sand and I'm there. All the best to you Aveinthebox.


Yes. A camp there as described would be a destination for us. Please keep us informed of your progress. If the road is a small challenge that just adds to the attraction.

Maderita - 11-4-2017 at 01:08 AM

Aveinthebox, I saw my friend in La Rumorosa this evening and asked him about ownership. He confirmed that he has his cattle there with Tito Dukes during the winters. He believes that the Dowling family owns the land at Cañón Palomar.

The Dowling, Dukes, and Sandoval families (along with a few others, incl. Vizcarra) have generations of cattle ranching in the Sierra de Juárez. There is a lot of interdependence/cooperation and also numerous intermarriages between these families. I find their family history fascinating and have had the good fortune to meet some of the true pioneers over the decades.

David K - 11-4-2017 at 09:42 AM

I met a Tomás Dowling in Matomí Canyon in 1978. He was probably 80 years old and had so many stories!

In Erle Stanley Gardner's 1968 book, 'Mexico's Magic Square' he writes about Palomar Canyon and their trip to it (from Guadalupe Canyon). A ranch in Palomar was owned by a Señor Antonio Dowling and along with a few other cowboys (vaqueros), he lived there.

Aveinthebox - 11-8-2017 at 06:46 AM

They are really cool people. A lot of history in the desert and up on the hill. We are still trying to see if we can put the resources together to get that darn road fixed up. Should know more in a couple of weeks. I will keep posting any progress...

David K - 11-8-2017 at 11:30 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Aveinthebox  
They are really cool people. A lot of history in the desert and up on the hill. We are still trying to see if we can put the resources together to get that darn road fixed up. Should know more in a couple of weeks. I will keep posting any progress...


Great news! Thank you!!

Mexitron - 11-8-2017 at 12:44 PM

Palomar would be nice to visit with some tubs as long as it was quiet and campsites were private. There was that place between Palomar and GC, Isabella Canyon I think, where somebody had built lodging and a pool. It didn't last long though I have no idea if it was too far to drive or some other reason.

David K - 11-8-2017 at 12:46 PM

Quote: Originally posted by Mexitron  
Palomar would be nice to visit with some tubs as long as it was quiet and campsites were private. There was that place between Palomar and GC, Isabella Canyon I think, where somebody had built lodging and a pool. It didn't last long though I have no idea if it was too far to drive or some other reason.


Yes, Canyon Isabel where the general had a secret resort, with its own airstrip.
See photos of it from Neal Johns.

WestyWanderer - 5-1-2018 at 06:04 PM

Any update on this campground in Palomar Canyon?

Aveinthebox - 5-2-2018 at 07:00 PM

Road is really bad
Could cost as much as $10,000 to to restore
Looking at maybe re routing
Started working on better catch basin around spring
Right now its still about as remote knarly baja as you can find
So much desert, so little time... and $$

geoffff - 5-2-2018 at 10:44 PM

Palomar Canyon is perfect just the way it is. Access is difficult, and the reward is great.

It would be a great shame to turn it into another Guadalupe Hot Springs.

We already have one Guadalupe Hot Springs, which is just fine for what is - for people who want easy access and amenities and are willing to pay $ for it.

But do all fun places need to be sanitized into "campgrounds"?

-- Geoff

David K - 5-3-2018 at 08:19 AM

Quote: Originally posted by Aveinthebox  
Road is really bad
Could cost as much as $10,000 to to restore
Looking at maybe re routing
Started working on better catch basin around spring
Right now its still about as remote knarly baja as you can find
So much desert, so little time... and $$


Aveinthebox, I hope it can remain a bit rustic and rough---even kept for 4WD vehicles only, but I understand it is the family's decision on what they want to do with their own land.
I am having dinner with Hotschott (Steve) soon... What name does he know you by (you can u2u me, if you want)?

Here is geoffff's March 2018 trip report with Palomar Canyon included: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=89990

PaulW - 6-24-2018 at 08:11 AM

Two trips 12/4/13 and 12/3/17
Changes were fire remains found in 2017 and the road was much worse to get to the abandoned building. Anything but a high lifted Jeep type vehicle definitely required. Road from building to the spring parking was about the same. High clearance desirable and the track is different per my GPS. Road was heavily overgrown with huge palm branches. The only place we found to camp was near the building, but the heavy overgrowth, trees and bushes made it testy. We barely found room for four rigs. The infrastructure which includes tubs and Poly/PVC piping has suffered from neglect and will need a complete do over. The spring has not changed much and is still a nice place to visit. The hike only took a few minutes, but is all uphill.
Stopped both times at Isabel. No significant change there. Interesting place but as you all know it is really trashed. Never found the airstrip because I did not look enough. There is adequate parking at the beginning of the hike.
Both trips from San Felipe via Saldana/Cohabuzo was less than a half day, but we did not spend significant time at Isabel. Roads to the destination are all good.
Tried to explore La Mora, but a large cattle ranch has taken over that area, both the canyon and east of the canyon. The ranch owner was friendly and gave us directions back to Cohabuzo since our GPS maps did not show any roads. Btw, That ranch seems to be very well funded.

David K - 7-17-2018 at 04:42 PM

Bump for any news :bounce: