Couple months in Mexico. Looking for suggestions.

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Jamie Z, Sep 23, 2020.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    In a few months (planned start date is mid-January) I'll be headed to Mexico on a CB500X

    CB500X.jpg

    In 2007 I made a trip through Mexico but I never got to spend any time in the northwest part of the country, namely Baja and Copper Canyon. So this time I want to go back and see those areas.

    I'll have about three months. My general plan (based on long-term weather patterns) is to go down Baja in January/February, ferry to the mainland and continue south to see parts of Mexico I missed last time as well as visit friends I have in Puerto Vallarta. Then come back north in a couple/few months through Copper Canyon when it warms up a bit more.

    I've been doing a bit of reading and researching about Baja and Copper Canyon, but I wanted to start a new thread with some questions of my own.

    My interests are great roads (mix of paved and moderate gravel), small towns, local culture and history, good food. I'll be camping most of the time. I'm budgeting about $40 per day.

    So... what can you recommend? Which roads should I put on my list? I'm having a hard time finding specific routes in the Copper Canyon area. Any must-stop places to see? Anyone going to be in that area around the same time want to meet up for a day or more to ride together?

    Also, what about greater Mexico? Any recommendations for places to see, things to do in the heart of the country? I've ridden Espinazo del Diablo (and plan to again!), spent a few days in Oaxaca, ridden down the west coast, stopped at Las Posas. On my last trip, I just wandered around and zig-zagged across the country a few times.

    I'll also be going over to Yucatan for the first time, so any recommendations for that area will be welcomed.

    Thanks!

    Jamie
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  2. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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  3. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    Hi Jamie
    Since you have done the Espinazo del diablo, I have another route you may find interesting it is highway 23 south from Durango to Mezquital then on to Jesus Maria and finally Ruiz, I went all the way to San Blas, SAM_2579.JPG SAM_2582.JPG SAM_2583.JPG SAM_2585.JPG its a very remote route but all paved with some interesting small villages along the way. SR from Durango suggested it to me. You need to go into Mezquital for gas at the Pemex then go back out the way you came for a coupe km to catch the turn off to 23 or Jesus Maria, it is not marked but just before town ask a local or delivery truck for the turn off. No more gas until Ruiz but the CB has enough range, my 650 vstrom made it on 1 tank. The 515 km was Durango to San Blas.
    My GPS did not have highway 23 or the small towns so I just rode with the help of locals, you may be more tech savvy than I.
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  4. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Aside from the various Yucatan ruins- Merida is interesting as is- Valladoid, Chetumal and the areas below Tulum in the protected region down thru Xacalak (pitch a tent) and might as well do Belize (snorkel the reefs! both places, MX & Belize) while that far south.
    Have you been in any of Chiapas? Another fave place of mine is state of Michoacan-Morelia is very historical and the village of Patzcuaro I have friends there. Oaxaca the city and state are a favorite of mine. Every road that goes from the ocean to Oaxaca or Chiapas highlands is a must do-same as the roads from mtns to PV and there is more than one there.
    Real de Catorce? is worth the visit. Zacatecas?
    Fun to discuss but IF? you'll get to go is a great question... :dunno
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  5. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Sloppy 300 rider Supporter

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    E32 maps for your GPS is money well spent. When planning our trip, we were tying to use google and garmin maps, they were saying certain roads did not pass through areas. E32 showed the roads went through, once we got down there, we found the E32 product was very accurate. They also have suggested routes highlighted on the maps. You’ll want some more dirt oriented tires, than what you have on the bike, for some of the routes.

    I have not been paying attention, is the border open to tourists yet?
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  6. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Excellent! I've added it. I have not been that way. I passed through Durango on 40 from both directions.

    Though Kurviger has a different idea. Know anything about highway 115 on the west side of Durango?

    Hwy115.jpg Hwy23.jpg

    Looks like I might have to make a loop. :deal

    Here's a messy map of my trip through Mexico from 2007. I attempted to map it out a few months ago, but it didn't work out like I wanted. Nonetheless, it's a general overview of my previous travels. A section of my route is missing, I did ride up through Puebla and then over to Xilitla and then on to Monterrey.

    Mexicobeen.jpg

    I did go through Chiapas and went through Patzcuaro as well as a few days in Oaxaca. I rode 175 from coast to coast.

    I'll add Real de Catorce to my list. I have not been there nor Zacatecas.

    Good stuff, thanks!

    I did briefly look at E32, but I passed on it due to the cost as well as it seemed more aimed toward dual-sport and off-road riders. Currently I'll be using a combination of Open Street Maps, Sygic (which uses TomTom maps), and offline Google Maps. I appreciate the feedback on E32. I'll look into it again.

    I'm hesitant to use more dirt oriented tires mostly because I'd like to get as many miles out of my tires as possible, though I could be convinced to change my mind. Being on a loaded touring bike, I already know my off-pavement capabilities are limited. On my previous trip to Mexico, I was on the road for three months and rode about 16,000 miles on the same tires.

    As for the border, it's officially closed. They just extended it to October 21, I believe. However, I have read several reports of people going into Mexico without any trouble at all. I'm still a few months out. My start date has been mid-January, but I'm already getting itchy, and if I get a chance, I might leave early, maybe sometime in December... not sure yet.

    Thanks for the ideas!
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  7. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Sloppy 300 rider Supporter

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    You are correct, E32 is more dual sport oriented but it showed a lot more roads into places than other sources that we tried. I can’t remember price but I think it was worth it.

    You mentioned being in Mex before. So you are aware of how much dirt road riding there is and what you might encounter. As far as tires, I prefer to have tires for the worst conditions that I may encounter.
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  8. knight

    knight Long timer

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    I dont know of many free or great camping places in Northern Baja , but in BCS they can be found just about everywhere,
    if you need shade or a shitter, expect to pay a small fee

    On the Yucatan , I really liked the walled city of Campeche
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  9. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    There's no doubt that having more appropriate tires would make the riding a little easier, but I've always used 90/10 tires on my bikes and never had a problem.

    Here's Engineer Pass on stock tires. :lol3

    enginner.jpg

    My last trip to Mexico was on Metzeler Tourance, and I'm thinking of going with them again.

    Jamie
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  10. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Sloppy 300 rider Supporter

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    If you can do engineer on those tires, you will be good. At least on all the stuff we did around Copper Canyon.
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  11. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Thanks for the flattery,Trice , but as it appears it would probably be difficult to suggest any particular spots which he has not yet heard of already .JamieZ is not a newbie to Mexico or to long distance motorcycle travel .The way Jamie describes it he already should have a fair number of Mexican routes to work around . By that I mean he should get out his map with all the roads he did back in 1907 ,,, er , :lol3make that 2007 ,( why so looong a wait ,Jamie ? ) and use that as a framework of roads to NOT do this next planned trip . Cross the border at different ports of entry, see new roads right away ,don't fall into the routine of repeating what you once did .Since 2007 there have been considerable expansions made in the amount of pavement on the lesser roads so this preference for pavement is easily served.
    Over the years that Jamie has been posting on ADV I do get it that he prefers frugal modes of travel and overnighting. I also expect that he has added to his savings account regularly and can now manage to have a fine time on a budget . Like everywhere prices have snuck upwards since 2007 so it might be advisable to raise the daily money-burn target a bit, perhaps to something realistic like $50USD or perhaps $60.If you travel slowly there will be days when you do not need to buy gasoline , so it leaves more for a hotel .
    Ergo I think it would be worthwhile for Jamie to reconsider that hope to"be camping most of the time". Camping in Mexico has not gotten much easier and Wild Camping other than perhaps in Baja is out of the question for security reasons . Pay-campgrounds where they exist are hard to find or they are in tourist areas where your neighbours will be tourists and of unknown calibre with respect to having your stuff still at the site after you were away for part of a day . So much for absorbing Mexican culture . And with a hotel you have a shower and toilet at your disposal at all hours

    With an allowance of $50 USD ($60) per day Jamie should be able to find a a small hotel for every night ,and even if it were to cost beyond the budget it should all average out okay . I have been doing lots and lots of riding( and driving) in Mexico since'79 and although I carry a tent on the bike most of that time I have only camped in Mexico maybe ten times . In retrospect I could have skipped those occasions and it would not have driven me into penury , but those camping events were done mostly during my beginning years in Mexico ,before I caught on to my technique for locating a truly affordable room for the night.
    My technique is no secret, it is just a question of feet -into- the -front- door asking around .
    Since 2007 the internet has evolved ( 0r I only learned about it) and "hotel finding websites " are now plentiful .
    But there is a BIG caveat ; Those hotel finding services do NOT list every single hotel everywhere - they cover only the hotels which are prepared to share with that finding -site a significant part of the money they take in for the room. The small town , locally owned and operated small hotels work with pricing that the locals can afford ,but their margin is so small that paying the 15% to 25% fee to get a room filled would soon drive them out of business .

    The upshot of this is that tourists who depend solely on those sites to find a room get directed to the more expensive hotels , paying US-level prices at the big box hotels and tourist traps. Leave those to the millionaires and the timid gringo tourists too afraid to go it on their own ; support the small hotels . It beats sitting around a tent site for 15 hours a day(counting the time required to find,set up and break camp) .Leave the bike at a hotel safely stashed and you can wander the town, relax on the plaza, visit the mercado,a museum or whatever interests you for total cultural immersion .

    The CBX 500 will be a perfect choice for the ride especially if you fit some tires suited for gravel roads . In 2018-19 Ed Stoll did a great wandering around tour for which I gave him a pile of suggestions , so maybe look up his rr
    Ed's Third Trip to Mexico (this time the Yucatan) and so much more...
    Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by edstoll, Nov 17, 2018.

    You are smart to leave the Copper Canyon for March or later when it will be truly spring there. But remote is also available in other places: e.g in Oaxaca if you take Mex 197 north past Mitla, past Hierve el Agua and past Totontepec it will turn into a truly remote crossing of the Sierra ,recommended for dry weather ,to reach Choapan and then descend the east face into Veracruz state and Mex 149 and 147. Never saw a report using that road for a motorcycle crossing . In Chiapas consider the route through the Depresion al Centro de Chiapas east of Revolucion Mexicana to join up with Mex 211 south of La Mesilla

    T

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  12. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Hit up inmate SR for info on the remote roads in that area. Couldn't get the inmate tag thing to work with his 2 letter name
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  13. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Insert a blank space after the @ symbol then type SR as usual
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  14. Cal

    Cal Long timer

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    SR and MAXVERT would be the inmates to PM about this route
    When you look at 115 on google maps it shows it looping back to EL Salto?
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  15. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Yucatan beach camping is sort of logical if not the bed type I much prefer.
    JamieZ - been to Palenque? "Hippieville" in Chiapas- AKA, San Cristobal? Mariposa preserve via short hike?
    Per your map the area in and around the DF is a candidate? The pyramids N of DF, inner city is a true delight!!! and you never know what you'll see next in there doing urban hikes. The coffee country above Cordoba, after the ride from Oaxaca to there is jungly mtns. Rides out into the villages surrounding Oaxaca city?
    BTW, DAMNed if I don't need a Mexico trip... or a trip somewhere...
    Lucky jamie Z if this trip, happens:lol2
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  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z I'm serious. Supporter

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    Thanks for the note! I don't have a strict budget on this trip, and you're right that I've been saving up for this trip for quite a while. My last (and only) trip to Mexico was made somewhat spontaneously and I didn't have much of a savings to go on. In any case, I still need to be frugal as I have some additional travel plans after Mexico. You may have seen a couple of my posts regarding Cuba and I have some more plans after that. My budget is going to be in the $40-$50 per day range on the road.

    My goal is a bit like you suggested, that is to look at the map of my 2007 trip and go where I haven't been. That's why I'm asking about Baja and Copper Canyon in this thread. It was a big area of the country I didn't get to visit last time. But I'm also planning to do a bit of reminiscing. I want to go back to a few places I visited in 2007 and see if they're the same or different, or how things have changed.

    I do plan to camp most of the time, as I did in 2007. I rarely had trouble finding an out-of-the-way place to pitch my tent back then, and though I'm probably a little more cautious this time around, I'm also quite a bit more experienced in finding good places. Here's a few examples from back in the day:

    This was my first night in Mexico:

    [​IMG]

    Found this shallow canyon outside Saltillo. I might go back and try to find this spot again. It was one of my favorites.

    [​IMG]

    A secluded spot near the beach. I scouted this one first, then rode into town for dinner, and came back under darkness to set up my tent.

    [​IMG]

    This was a disused picnic area near Tequila:

    [​IMG]

    A very cold night near Nevado de Colima:

    [​IMG]

    And what has become my best campsite ever, Volcan de Fuego in the distance. This is another which I'll likely try to go back to, for old time's sake.

    [​IMG]

    ...maybe I can find my old puppy friend.

    [​IMG]

    Sorry I went a little overboard on the pics. I got excited going through my old pictures. My point is that in 2007 I camped for free most nights. I also camped at a handful of campgrounds, mostly on the beach, typical fee was $5. And I occasionally checked into a cheap motel room or hostel. I expect I'll be doing about the same on this upcoming trip.

    I can tell my style of travel has evolved a bit since those days. I now carry a camp stove, and I do remember a few times on that 2007 trip where I had to alter my nightly accommodations in order to make sure I had dinner. I ate cold or dry food in camp. Now I have a camp stove, a chair, and even a table. I'm better prepared for weather extremes as well.

    I also edit my photos nowadays so they don't look so dour. :lol3

    I'll be copying down your recommendations for routes and places to go. I appreciate it.

    I have been to Palenque and spent a day in San Cristobal. The folks at the hostel invited me to park my bike inside on the hardwood floor. :eek7 I'm not familiar with the butterfly preserve and a Google search turns up nothing specific. (Though typing in "mariposa preserve" into Google Maps turned up a couple places I added to my bucket list!)

    [​IMG]

    I did not spend any time around DF. Originally I had a friend who was going to meet me there, but her plans got derailed, and without having much other reason to go, I skirted around the city. I have found in my travels that I don't really appreciate big cities. They're chaotic. I get overwhelmed. Unless I have a friend to show me around, or a specific destination in a city to visit, I tend to avoid them.

    As for the pyramids outside of DF, you might need to be more specific. When I do a Google Maps search, a handful of archeological sites north of the city pop up. The most prominent appears to be del Sol to the northeast.

    I do plan to return to Oaxaca and ride some of the jungle roads in the area, though I don't know where the coffee country is in that area.

    I'm still confident the trip will happen in one form or another. I'm not planning to head out until January, so I have a few more months. I'm also flexible enough to push the trip back another month or two, or even leave early if it strikes my fancy.

    I'm really starting to get excited. And nervous.

    Jamie
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  17. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    For those pyramids , look up TEOTIHUACAN , the “del Sol “ is more than likely a half hearted reference to the Piramide del Sol on that very large impressive site which predates the Aztec civilization era .There is also the Pyramid of the Moon. Read up on on that stuff . There are a ton of pre-historic sites in the area around the DF and Toluca , all easily accessible .
    “Coffee country “ in Oaxaca can be in many locations as soon as you get into its climate / elevation range , meaning in the Sierras both north and south of the central divide You have been there !. The Pluma Hidalgo region ( and that mountain town) is famous in the south in the sierras above the Pacific plain and the Huatulcos and is easily reached by using Mex 175 and then the side road to Pluma Hidalgo town and down to Sta Maria Huatulco , you will love that road! North of Oaxaca city the 175 also passes though coffee regions . Coffee grows in all those mountains south from Sinaloa and Hidalgo , you can smell the flowers when they bloom and all the drying and roasting in the villages and at the coffee fincas .
    In Chiapas too , lots of coffee growing , check out the small roads north of Tapachula to Union Juarez and Nuevo Alemania .
    Other “ piramide “ sites to read up on are El Tajin ,
    Tzintzuntzan etc etc etc
    and in the Yucatan just about every ZA has piramides of some sort . There are towns built on or around pyramids !

    Nothing wrong with your pictures , bring ‘em on .
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  18. Animo

    Animo Been n00b awhile

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    Ferry from Baja..... To the States of Sinaloa, Durango, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Puebla, Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas.

    Ride a semi-straight line in the center of Mexico and you will see the real Mexico.
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  19. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Lots of camping in north and south Baja. I camp there all the time but not so much on the mainland. That being said, I don't know your tolerance for sand on the CB500X. And many of my best camping spots involve sand riding, sometimes lots. For instance, you can ride the west coast from south of El Rosario down to Santa Rosalalita. The sand isn't too bad on that route on the main roads but there several pretty big silt beds and then maybe 30 minutes of really bad st-t-t-t-t-ter bumps. On the east side, lots of good free camping south of Gonzaga bay but the best stuff involves some sand. Take the old road (NOT Calamajue) past Coco's Corner - lots of camping especially now that most traffic doesn't go that way. Also camping opportunities on Laguna Chapala just before that road hits Hwy 1. Heading south, lots of open desert but it's the Viscaino Desert where every plant has stickers - are you using an air mattress? Tough to find free spots around BOLA but if you're happy not camping right on the coast, lots of stuff in the nearby desert. The Amarga dry lake bed would be good but I seem to recall a short section of sand to reach it. Riding south from Mulege, most (all?) of the good beaches are campgrounds but once again, moving away from the water, you can probably locate some free spots. A spot I intend to camp at in the future is Agua Verde south of Loreto. Looks amazing.
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  20. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    Teotihuacan is, or at least pre-covid it was touristy what with tour buses and such but certainly one of the worlds great historical places and well worth being there. It lies N of and out of heavily populated DF urbanity. Takes maybe 4-6 hours of hiking around, up & down the very large pyramids.
    I'm with you on large cities-I do in fact live back in the deep woods in a log cabin (I built in 1979-80) for over 40 years...
    I appreciate them for what they are and it's love em then leave em for me. Even NYC which my wife and I have urban hiked all over the city was interesting but in the end we were beyond glad to leave. Guadalajara absolutely chewed me up and spit me out one time! Oaxaca will get you lost but overall my fave larger MX large city. I did the DF with a riding friend who then lived in Toluca, nearby if you don't call a bus ride up through the DF mtns of a couple hours "too far away". We then got on the subway for like 3 cents and rode on into the centro.
    I'll check to see if "that rider" is back in Mexico now? You'd enjoy each others company, no doubt.
    Once you get past Playa del Carmen headed S, other than Tulum tourist trap, the rest is mostly yours too enjoy as is much of the hinterlands of that whole penninsula all the way to Belize. Mahuajual (do the coastal road N & S of there to camp) is an exception if a cruise ships (none in covid?) in but then quickly goes back to normal. Prior to the big storm that wiped out much there we enjoyed a week plus stay in a tent camp there as the only occupants! Had a chef , real bed w/sheets for not much but now all blown away.
    The preserve, i.e., costal road just beyond the Tulum hotel district is great camping area. I've done several stays down there with my wife on fly and drives out of Cancun. One trip I snorkled the fresh clear rivers of the preserve.
    Xacalak had one in/op wind turbine our first visit there and now a busier place as divers and bone fish people go there. The reef is not far away if you snorkel or suba.
    #20