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ahosey01
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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 05:39 PM
Dispersed / Primitive Camping


Hey everyone -

First post. I live in Arizona and have spent most of my adult life exploring the desert between here, southern Nevada and California. My wife and I have four children who all love the desert as much as we do. We also speak fluent Spanish, so we decided it was time to expand our horizons and take a few week trip down the length of the peninsula.

We have a fairly vanilla camping setup we have used dozens (if not hundreds) of times here in the US. No RV, no trailer, just a big vehicle that we cram a ton of gear inside: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc. We pitch a couple tents, set up the cooking spot, and fold out the awning on the van. I will also camp out of a backpack when I'm hunting out in the backcountry.

Now the question - here in the US, there's so much forest service, BLM and state land that we just check the atlas for a public land boundary that isn't restricted to camping and drive until we find a nice spot to pull off on the side of the road and camp. Looking at the maps I can find of BCN and BCS, it doesn't appear to me that there is a similar concept of public land. It is also, however, not clear to me that all the land in both states is actually privately owned. So what's the deal? Can I camp anywhere that doesn't have a fence or a "Prohibido el Paso" sign? Or is all of the land all privately owned and I can't use it unless it's specifically designated for camping?

We would probably have about three weeks to drive from Arizona to Los Cabos and back, so I'd like to really get far out there and away from people if I can.

Let me know, thanks!!
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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 06:27 PM


You can pretty much camp where ever you like. There are many offical camp grounds privately owned. Where ever you find a spot to camp make sure it is far away from the highway. In remote areas you never know who may not be a good guy, if you know what I mean. Sometimes if you are camping where others are someone may come up to you and say it is there property and ask that you pay them a few dollars. It most likely is not their property so you can leave or just pay them. I've had that happen several times and I just pay them. Now if they ask for 20 or 30 dollars I'd either negotiate them down or leave.

If you are in an area where others are camping it's safe to stay as long as it is families (mom and kids). If men only be careful, when the alcohol gets flowing it can sometimes get dicey.
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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 06:46 PM
You are going to have a great time!


First off, welcome to the forum! I travel alone with a dog, so my trips are much simpler to pull off, but my goal is the same as yours...to enjoy the remote spots in Baja.

You will have no problem finding places to camp, but your options will be greatly enhanced if you have at least Posi traction, if not 4x4. You did not mention when you are considering your trip, but my advice is to travel as light as you can considering the expected temperatures for the month of your choice.

Most of the places I would recommend are way off pavement, but I am sure that even those accessible from the highways along the coasts will be a treat.

Tell us more about your van and things you want to do, I suggest that you spend some time searching some of the older trip reports on this site, and come back with more direct questions.
The Benchmark Road and Recreation Atlas is a great tool to plan, and support your trip!




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 07:16 PM


Look through all the trip reports Nomads have posted. You will get lots of trip ideas there. You are going to have to earn the sweet spots, difficult roads, deep sand, mud flats. If you live for that sheet, you will love Baja.

Given that you are fluent in Spanish, your going be able to interact with the people better. I hope to get there one day.



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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 07:19 PM


Seven Sisters. Northern end, about 6-7 miles South of San Jose.





[Edited on 3-20-2022 by JZ]




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 07:27 PM


Puerto El Gato







[Edited on 3-20-2022 by JZ]




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 07:31 PM


Guardian Angel Island - packed up before leaving.





Guardian Angel Island from above




Tents



[Edited on 3-20-2022 by JZ]




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 07:50 PM


Seven Sisters again, South end of the Sisters (Punta Lobos)








View of the point from above



[Edited on 3-20-2022 by JZ]




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 08:04 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  
Hey everyone -

First post. I live in Arizona and have spent most of my adult life exploring the desert between here, southern Nevada and California. My wife and I have four children who all love the desert as much as we do. We also speak fluent Spanish, so we decided it was time to expand our horizons and take a few week trip down the length of the peninsula.

We have a fairly vanilla camping setup we have used dozens (if not hundreds) of times here in the US. No RV, no trailer, just a big vehicle that we cram a ton of gear inside: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc. We pitch a couple tents, set up the cooking spot, and fold out the awning on the van. I will also camp out of a backpack when I'm hunting out in the backcountry.

Now the question - here in the US, there's so much forest service, BLM and state land that we just check the atlas for a public land boundary that isn't restricted to camping and drive until we find a nice spot to pull off on the side of the road and camp. Looking at the maps I can find of BCN and BCS, it doesn't appear to me that there is a similar concept of public land. It is also, however, not clear to me that all the land in both states is actually privately owned. So what's the deal? Can I camp anywhere that doesn't have a fence or a "Prohibido el Paso" sign? Or is all of the land all privately owned and I can't use it unless it's specifically designated for camping?

We would probably have about three weeks to drive from Arizona to Los Cabos and back, so I'd like to really get far out there and away from people if I can.

Let me know, thanks!!


Most all land in baja is private. Exceptions are the national parks and a few other areas. Mexico has no vast public lands like USA. The land may look vast and unpopulated, but someone owns it.
In the boonies no one will care if you camp on remote private lands. They may ask for money. Obey signs and locked gates.
Do not camp in boonies between San quintin and border, lots of predators (exceptions are national parks and some inland areas).
Camp away from hwy, and camp the usual places gringo boondockers go. Safety of remote areas can be sketchy in places, so stick to where others frequent.

[Edited on 3-20-2022 by mtgoat666]




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 08:41 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  
Hey everyone -

First post. I live in Arizona and have spent most of my adult life exploring the desert between here, southern Nevada and California. My wife and I have four children who all love the desert as much as we do. We also speak fluent Spanish, so we decided it was time to expand our horizons and take a few week trip down the length of the peninsula.

We have a fairly vanilla camping setup we have used dozens (if not hundreds) of times here in the US. No RV, no trailer, just a big vehicle that we cram a ton of gear inside: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc. We pitch a couple tents, set up the cooking spot, and fold out the awning on the van. I will also camp out of a backpack when I'm hunting out in the backcountry.

Now the question - here in the US, there's so much forest service, BLM and state land that we just check the atlas for a public land boundary that isn't restricted to camping and drive until we find a nice spot to pull off on the side of the road and camp. Looking at the maps I can find of BCN and BCS, it doesn't appear to me that there is a similar concept of public land. It is also, however, not clear to me that all the land in both states is actually privately owned. So what's the deal? Can I camp anywhere that doesn't have a fence or a "Prohibido el Paso" sign? Or is all of the land all privately owned and I can't use it unless it's specifically designated for camping?

We would probably have about three weeks to drive from Arizona to Los Cabos and back, so I'd like to really get far out there and away from people if I can.

Let me know, thanks!!


Did we chat today at the Baja Expo (Benchmark Maps table)? Same question was asked.



Here is a typical beach camp set up just after the shade is up... My wife (Baja Angel) is super happy to back on Shell Island! That is what we call the barrier island beach, about 20 miles south of San Felipe. Just leave it like you found it, or better... and camp most anywhere there are no people.




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 08:49 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  

...Now the question - here in the US, there's so much forest service, BLM and state land that we just check the atlas for a public land boundary that isn't restricted to camping and drive until we find a nice spot to pull off on the side of the road and camp. Looking at the maps I can find of BCN and BCS, it doesn't appear to me that there is a similar concept of public land. It is also, however, not clear to me that all the land in both states is actually privately owned. So what's the deal? Can I camp anywhere that doesn't have a fence or a "Prohibido el Paso" sign? Or is all of the land all privately owned and I can't use it unless it's specifically designated for camping?...

To understand land ownership in Baja, start with learning about ejidos.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ejido
Most of the rural land belongs to the numerous ejidios. The members, "ejidatarios", own shares of land within the ejido. Beginning in the early 1990s, an ejido can sell land, if the ejido votes agreement and files with the government for permission. Some of the prime land/beaches on the coasts have been privatized.

Ranches on the ejidos can be vast, with only small sections of the better quality farm and ranch land fenced (fencing is expensive). Cattle are often free range.

Generally, if you are well away from populated areas, ranch houses, farm land, developed land, and fences, then it is probably okay to camp. By percentage of total land area, that may exceed 85% of Baja (guessing). This map will give you an idea of how much land is covered by ejidos (in blue):
https://databasin.org/maps/new/#datasets=a5e789aa10fb4efbbd8...

There are two National Parks in the mountains of Baja California (the northern state). Camping is allowed. Many private ranches welcome visitors for camping; the income helps support the families.
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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 09:53 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Maderita  


To understand land ownership in Baja, start with learning about ejidos.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ejido
Most of the rural land belongs to the numerous ejidios. The members, "ejidatarios", own shares of land within the ejido. Beginning in the early 1990s, an ejido can sell land, if the ejido votes agreement and files with the government for permission. Some of the prime land/beaches on the coasts have been privatized.

Ranches on the ejidos can be vast, with only small sections of the better quality farm and ranch land fenced (fencing is expensive). Cattle are often free range.

Generally, if you are well away from populated areas, ranch houses, farm land, developed land, and fences, then it is probably okay to camp. By percentage of total land area, that may exceed 85% of Baja (guessing). This map will give you an idea of how much land is covered by ejidos (in blue):
https://databasin.org/maps/new/#datasets=a5e789aa10fb4efbbd8...

There are two National Parks in the mountains of Baja California (the northern state). Camping is allowed. Many private ranches welcome visitors for camping; the income helps support the families.


Fantastic post Maderita.


[Edited on 3-20-2022 by JZ]




See Baja California in 4K: https://youtu.be/4VNTIhRa6q0

Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA

Come along for a ride of the famous Seven Sisters https://youtu.be/hrdzmTWPUQs



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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 10:02 PM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  

We would probably have about three weeks to drive from Arizona to Los Cabos and back, so I'd like to really get far out there and away from people if I can.

Let me know, thanks!!


getting far away from people - but heading for Los Cabos?




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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 10:12 PM


Quote: Originally posted by 4x4abc  


getting far away from people - but heading for Los Cabos?


Landmark end destination for him Harold.

He sounds like he wants to get out into the open space on his journey.





See Baja California in 4K: https://youtu.be/4VNTIhRa6q0

Ever wanted to camp on a deserted island in the Sea of Cortez? https://youtu.be/g3ThXCm3XSA

Come along for a ride of the famous Seven Sisters https://youtu.be/hrdzmTWPUQs



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[*] posted on 3-19-2022 at 11:41 PM


Quote: Originally posted by JZ  
Fantastic post Maderita.

gracias JZ
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[*] posted on 3-20-2022 at 10:21 AM


Okay, first of all - there is a TON of info here. So thank you to everyone.

To answer the question about Los Cabos - JZ is correct, it is just a landmark for us. Would be cool to spend a day or two in a place I've only ever heard about rich friends taking vacations, but that would be the extent of that. Would also probably be helpful to re-up on water and food there, too.

Maderita - The ejido thing is interesting. Is there a generally good way to contact the owners (or users - in the case of ejidos) of the ranches you describe? i.e. are the main ranch houses commonly located off the highways, and I can just stroll up and offer some money for a stay? Or that isn't even necessary and I just give someone money if they find me and complain?

David - we did not chat at any expo. I didn't even know there was a Baja Expo. Where is that and when does it happen? I would love to go!

JZ - those photos are stellar. Those are exactly the kinds of places I'm trying to get away to.

With regard to safety - I think I have a good sense of both what is and isn't sensible, and how to conduct myself. I grew up in an old deteriorating part of Illinois that was, at one time, sadly getting national media recognition for being the murder capital of the U.S. or something like that. I left as a very young adult because all of my friends were going to jail or worse. I'm not a street genius but I got by just fine then and I'm sure I'd get by just fine in Mexico. Hell - that part of the country was so Mexican anyways that's how I even learned Spanish in the first place.

AKgringo - the van is 2WD, but it is a Chevy Express 3500 with 35" Nitto all terrain tires, a 3" lift and load levelers. I have a locking rhino roof rack that stores a big cargo carrier and a batwing awning. Limo tint on all the windows to keep out the desert sun. The thing is generally super capable - my biggest problems in it are deep sand (2WD and it weighs a ton) and the wheelbase is too long for really tight spots. In terms of ground clearance and what not, there isn't much I can't do with it.

As far as trip specifics - I was thinking 9-10 days drive to Los Cabos 1-2 days there and 9-10 days back. Interested in stopping and exploring some towns on the way there and on the way back. I'll spend some time with the trip reports and do some more digging on exactly where I'd like to go. So far the only two places I know for sure I want to visit are the Catavina area and the road up the east side of the cape. Catavina is super important and interesting to me because my wife and I are avid plant collectors (hundreds of species in our yard) and the abundance of boojum trees, cardon cacti, bursera species, and blue hesper palms would just be thrilling to us (and to several of our children). I'll start digging through the trip reports. I can say that we all love plants, particularly desert plants, we all love hiking and we all love the ocean. So I think that means just about any destination in Baja would be cool for us.

Hope this is helpful.
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[*] posted on 3-20-2022 at 10:48 AM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  
Okay, first of all - there is a TON of info here. So thank you to everyone.

David - we did not chat at any expo. I didn't even know there was a Baja Expo. Where is that and when does it happen? I would love to go!

As far as trip specifics - I was thinking 9-10 days drive to Los Cabos 1-2 days there and 9-10 days back. Interested in stopping and exploring some towns on the way there and on the way back. I'll spend some time with the trip reports and do some more digging on exactly where I'd like to go. So far the only two places I know for sure I want to visit are the Catavina area and the road up the east side of the cape. Catavina is super important and interesting to me because my wife and I are avid plant collectors (hundreds of species in our yard) and the abundance of boojum trees, cardon cacti, bursera species, and blue hesper palms would just be thrilling to us (and to several of our children). I'll start digging through the trip reports. I can say that we all love plants, particularly desert plants, we all love hiking and we all love the ocean. So I think that means just about any destination in Baja would be cool for us.

Hope this is helpful.


Baja Expo...
Posted here on Nomad in February (as well as on my website: VivaBaja) and Facebook pages: http://forums.bajanomad.com/viewthread.php?tid=97288

There was someone with the identical question... good question!

Endemic plants...
Boojum trees and Blue palms are my favorite Baja plants. I had a boojum cutting in a pot for 20 years before termites got into the pot... So disappointing! It grew about 4 inches and every year would send out stems with leaves, and then defoliate. So interesting to watch. I 'liberated it' and another just a few miles south of Cataviña from a taller boojum that had snapped a few feet up (wind?) and 4 new arms were growing up from that snap point. That was in 1984... and I have gone back to check on it a few times since. In 2017, I took this photo and the two new branches had not seemed to have grown very much more than the one in my pot!


The scab from the 1984 cut is still there. They are a very slow growing (and thus old) plant!


I have a blue palm in a big pot out front now. It was grown from a seed from Guadalupe Canyon by a Nomad friend who gifted it to me.

Trip ideas and interesting facts (the old Spanish missions and other sites)...
Please check out my website for travel ideas... I have many many trip photo albums, grouped by year but also have a page to help find a location photo grouped by destinations. Maps, books, links, kilometer marker guide, my over 80 Baja Bound Travel Adventure articles and interactive map with images and links, etc. at www.VivaBaja.com
I am happy to advise if I can help!


[Edited on 3-20-2022 by David K]




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[*] posted on 3-20-2022 at 11:04 AM


You might want to get a copy of David Ks book on Missions and visit them. Almost all are accessible with a 2 wheel drive truck. David could tell you which ones are not. Most have a story to tell. When you think about it how did they get those large stones in place building the Mission. San Javier and San Ignacio for example. San Borja and Santa Gertrudis are out of the way and while the road is rough in places it's not a problem for a 2 wheel drive truck.
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[*] posted on 3-20-2022 at 11:13 AM


This is crazy. I had no idea there were so many resources and so much info dedicated to traveling in this one place.

You could make this into a hobby, a lifestyle and a career, all at the same time.
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[*] posted on 3-20-2022 at 11:44 AM


Quote: Originally posted by ahosey01  
This is crazy. I had no idea there were so many resources and so much info dedicated to traveling in this one place.

You could make this into a hobby, a lifestyle and a career, all at the same time.


Oh, I have! LOL
If the history of these places in Baja is interesting, order my book at www.oldmissions.com and a signed copy will be mailed tomorrow!




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See the NEW www.VivaBaja.com for maps, travel articles, links, trip photos, and more!
Baja Missions and History On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bajamissions/
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