The main artery down Baja Mexico is the Mex 1 highway with all of its potholes. We’ve taken the dirt road south of San Felipe before but didn’t want to take that slow-going coastal road with the skoolie this time. We wanted to stay on the Mex 1 and stop to explore near Cataviña; the boulder fields and El Marmol.
Cataviña is a tiny town (probably not even officially a “town”) in the middle of nowhere. With no gas station around there is often somebody selling gasoline in containers at the side of the highway. We’re talking little.
We stayed nearby at Rancho Santa Inez* in 2013 & were amazed at the boulder fields we found the following morning as we headed north. On that trip we stopped briefly to buy a marble turtle we called “Marmol” from the gift store at km 149.
This time we decided to slow down and explore more of this fascinating area. By late afternoon we parked Argo in the side yard of the gift shop for 100 pesos.** We sat outside to enjoy the vibrant sunset while a kitten came to play. We would explore in the morning.
There is no town anymore at El Marmol. All you’ll find is huge chunks of stone left over from mining, a few partial structures made from marble, abandoned machines and a cemetery. However, scavenging around provided an enjoyable 1.5 hour excursion for our family.
We drove a few kilometres passed the mine initially just to see what was further down the road. We had heard that the road ended at the mine, but it doesn’t. It appears to circle around and meet up with Mex 1 further south in about another 15 kilometres. We did find a pretty valley, though, and an opportunity for the kids to catch a bumper ride back to the mine!
The van is parked by the old schoolhouse completely made of quartz. Although its crumbling its still a really cool building to walk through discovering stones we were tempting to stash in our pockets.
Looks are definitely deceiving. None of us had previously thought this area had much appeal, but we now know better. There is definitely reason to explore near Cataviña on the Baja, so be sure to make time to stop and check it out.
* To find the Rancho Santa Inez take the well-marked road NE near km 181
** We woke up several times during the night as we heard vehicles pull off the highway into the front yard of the gift store and stop. I think most of the drivers were just stopping to pee before driving on, but every time we heard them stop it woke us up. If we were to do it again we wouldn’t park here. Either stay at Santa Inez, or better yet right amidst the boulder fields.
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