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Author: Subject: First time driving in, routes, crossings, expectations?
Bryan
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[*] posted on 12-4-2023 at 06:42 PM
First time driving in, routes, crossings, expectations?


Hello, this will be our first time driving down from Oregon. We will be towing a boat. I am wondering what is the best route down, skipping most of California seems worth the extra 3 hours? Also, what is the best crossing? I’ve heard it is Tecate , but what about Mexicali? What should I expect at the border? I know we need our passports, vehicles registration (original copy), and about two hours of patience. Do I need the boats registration? Do I get taxed on the boat? Do I need the “tourist tax” thing? We are headed for La Paz so I don’t think we need a TIP, am I wrong? Looks like I’m only allowed eight beers, I wanted to bring a couple of 12 packs of our local beers, how’s that fly?
Thanks you all,
Bryan
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 12-4-2023 at 08:00 PM
Welcome to the forum!


Bryan, I can provide some information, but I haven't towed a boat south for quite a few years. Unless others who do tow boats correct me, I think Mexicali would be your best shot. Boats require a TIP, unless they are under 14 feet +?- and you will need the boat, and trailer registrations.

If you are traveling down the east side of the Cascades and Sierra range, you would have to double back west (up a grade) to get to Tecate.

I also prefer driving down the east side, so if you know which highways you plan to drive I may have recommendations for the route.

You should plan on getting tourist paperwork (FMM) when you cross, it will keep you legal, although I have never been asked for one after crossing.




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Bryan
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[*] posted on 12-4-2023 at 09:01 PM


We would start on the I5 as we live right on it and probably cross over to Reno from Mt Shasta on the highway 89.
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AKgringo
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[*] posted on 12-4-2023 at 09:35 PM


That is a nice drive! from Reno south through Carson City then down 395 is also a beautiful drive, but there are several mountain passes over 8.000 feet, and you are back in California right away with some of the most expensive gas in the state.

I usually head further east to hwy 95, through Fernley then Fallon. There are a lot of road choices, but none of them are a direct route like I-5. If you use 95, be wary of sudden changes in the speed limit (like 80 down to 35) passing through small towns.

Reno has gone California on gas prices lately, but places like Fernley, and Tonopah are well below CA prices.




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[*] posted on 12-4-2023 at 10:50 PM


For towing, best to cross at mexicali, and take 5 south to 1 to BCS.

For getting between socal and oregon, I5 is super fast. Some older, rural people get a bit nervous traveling thru LA as it is 24/7 traffic…. But I5 is super north of LA, you can cruise and never see traffic, except for sacramento, portland and tacoma-seattle areas.

East side of mountains is scenic and super rural, but a long, slow slog especially with trailer. You wont find any traffic on the east side because it takes 5 extra days driving :biggrin:

If traffic makes you nervous, then take I5 south to bakersfield, then go left, thru tehachapi and find a way south to calexico…
but me, i would stay on 5 to the 8 and save driving time, set my cruise control once and forget it…




[Edited on 12-5-2023 by mtgoat666]




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wilderone
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[*] posted on 12-5-2023 at 10:19 AM


It won't take anywhere near 2 hours to cross into Mexico. Yes, you'll need FMMs - bring passport. If you take an Eastern Sierra Nevada route (like Hwy 395), there are some high elevation passes - already first snowfall in October around Mammoth Lakes. So check weather systems moving in. Don't forget Mexican car insurance. A quick Google check on the beer question: "For Mexico's customs, the current limits for adults aged 18+ are three liters of liquor or beer and six liters of wine. If you have more than this quantity you must declare it and pay any duties." 3 liters is equal to about 8.45 beers. The contents of your vehicle may or may not be checked.
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[*] posted on 12-6-2023 at 07:34 AM


I-5 in California is not a fast and easy cruising highway IF you are TOWING a trailer.

California has a somewhat stupid speed limit of 55 mph for ALL vehicles when towing. I-5's speed limit ranges up to 70 mph (or maybe even 75 mph) in places but a tow vehicle is still limited to 55 mph. So, you are stuck in the right hand lane amongst and endless line of semi-trailers slogging along at somewhere around 60 mph. To make it worse, the truck lane surface is beat to crap with ruts, uneven joints, and random potholes.

We regularly drive I-80 and I-5 from Reno to Sacramento to Fresno area. It sucks with a trailer!

Nevada's highways are some of the best. There are high passes on some of the roads but the surface is usually back to bare pavement a day or two after a snowstorm ends.

You might consider heading to the east side roads around Klamath Falls area and avoid I-5 in its entirety.
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Marc
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[*] posted on 12-7-2023 at 07:37 AM


Cross at Mexicali for sure. Mex5 is so much a better experience. I bought a second home in Palm Springs to be closer to Mexicali and Mex5.




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Alan
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[*] posted on 12-7-2023 at 11:04 AM


You didn't specify a destination so I will assume its BCS. I've towed numerous boats to BCS. I definitely recommend crossing at Mexicali East. Pull into the "Declaracion Area" and go in and get your FMM. This route will keep you out of the downtown area and away from the majority of the traffic.

Additionally, I have found that Hwy 5 saves me about 4 hours over just taking Hwy 1 the whole way when going to BCS

Once out of Mexicali it is smooth sailing to San Felipe. Watch your speed between San Felipe and Puertocitos. There are numerous DEEP vados (dips) that sneak up fast.

Top off your fuel in San Felipe. There is a station in Gonzaga but one never knows when a station will be waiting on a delivery so I try to always run off the top half of my tank. The next station beyond Gonzaga won't be until Jesus Maria. There are vendors selling gasoline out of cans at the BoLA turnoff but if you are in need of diesel you're out of luck.

If you are fishing your way down, BoLA can be a great first night stop. Great public ramp on the south side of town between Guillermos and Diaz's and usually bait is caught right in front of the ramp.

If you decide to continue on, I suggest making your first night stop in Guerreo Negro. I always stay at the Malarrimo Hotel which is on the right going into town. The property is walled with an onsite guard and there is plenty of room to park your rig in the back of the property. Many also stay at the Halfway House but I personally never have so I can't speak to parking there with a boat.

From GN I would top my tanks again because you have a bit of a run to the next available fuel in Vizcaino. Beyond San Ignacio, just before Santa Rosalia you will be facing the Santa Rosalia grade. Once you reach the summit, gear down and take your time. It is a long, steep switchback which drops you into Santa Rosalia. You want to make sure you don't smoke your brakes before reaching the bottom.

Santa Rosalia has the world famous Boleo Bakery but pulling a boat into town would not be an exercise in fun. The next town is Mulege. Again I would caution against turning left into town. The streets are just too narrow to make dragging a boat through them an enjoyable experience. If you want to take a break I suggest continuing about a mile past the bridge over the river to the La Serenidad Hotel. Tons of open parking and a good place for an early lunch. An alternative is to continue on to Bay of Concepcion and a stop at Playa Buenadventura. Mark can usually pull something together for you.

Once again, if fishing your way down I would make my next stop in Loreto. The streets for the most part are nice and wide and the public ramp at the north end of the malecon is very nice. When sardines are available you can usually pickup guy with a cast net right in the marina. He'll climb on your bow and you take him out where he will fill your tank. Drop him back at the dock and you're on your way.

This should get you a good start. Just a few words of advice that may be helpful:

Adjust your side mirrors so you can view your trailer wheels. Baja roads are much narrower than the US. Try to keep your left trailer wheels about 3 inches in from the centerline as this will put your right side trailer wheels 3 inches from the fog line because in many sections there is no shoulder and the edge can drop anywhere from 2-600 ft.

Slow down when approaching any town, which can be anything with more than 3 bldgs. There are topes (speed bumps) at each end.

Oncoming traffic flashing headlight = Hazard ahead! Cattle in the roadway, and accident, whatever. Just heads up

Vehicle in front of you turns on left turn signal. They usually are signaling it is clear for you to pass them. Or, they are actually turning left. You are the final judge

Above all, enjoy yourself. Take time to smell the roses. Baja is much more than a destination

[Edited on 12-7-2023 by Alan]




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Marc
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[*] posted on 12-7-2023 at 02:49 PM


What Alan said. And of course the..

[Edited on 12-7-2023 by Marc]




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RnR
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[*] posted on 12-7-2023 at 05:47 PM


Quote: Originally posted by Marc  
What Alan said. And of course the..

[Edited on 12-7-2023 by Marc]


Not there anymore. The dip was filled in three or four years ago. The painted warning is now very faded. Ahh, for the old days once again .....
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[*] posted on 12-8-2023 at 02:45 PM


Non-existent shoulders will make boat-towing extra fun.


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[*] posted on 12-8-2023 at 05:36 PM


Another nice photo, Stuck!

Driving north from the L.A. Bay junction (Parador Punta Prieta), the damage is 50 years old from this overly-wide clearing of the ancient forests of cardón and cirio, stretching for hundreds of miles.





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[*] posted on 12-12-2023 at 10:13 AM


First run maybe best to get in touch with one of the Baja travel clubs. They can get you right as far as TIP, fishing licences, insurance, etc. Anything you do ahead of time will make crossing easier. A road worthy trailer with recent hub,bearing,brake maintance is a must. Dont over look new spare tires. Once you have a flat, you don't have a spare any longer. Tools and wood blocks for side of road fixs. Roads are in the great condion with only a few streches of bad and narrow areas.
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Marc
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[*] posted on 12-14-2023 at 08:49 AM


Quote: Originally posted by chatolj  
First run maybe best to get in touch with one of the Baja travel clubs. They can get you right as far as TIP, fishing licences, insurance, etc. Anything you do ahead of time will make crossing easier. A road worthy trailer with recent hub,bearing,brake maintance is a must. Dont over look new spare tires. Once you have a flat, you don't have a spare any longer. Tools and wood blocks for side of road fixs. Roads are in the great condion with only a few streches of bad and narrow areas.


I have always carried two full size spares. Needed both only once.




Exercise regularly. Eat sensibly. Die anyway.
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