Exploring La Baja: Parks and Places
Contributor: Ruben Tapia
Photographer: Sarah Shreves
The Baja peninsula is its own unique coastal paradise. With rolling hills, beaches, and desert landscapes, it’s no wonder it draws millions of visitors each year to enjoy its diverse natural landscape. Knowing where to start when you visit though is not always as simple as that tantalizing interest itself. Here are a few locations sure to draw nature, travel, and wine lovers alike.
If you are considering a visit to the San Felipe area, a great natural get-away is Laguna Hanson in the Sierra de Juarez mountain range. Located inside the Parque Nacional Constitucion de 1857, this area is a completely different environment from the more arid San Felipe. At 5,500 feet, Laguna Hanson has lush high elevation plants—including pine trees, cooler year-round temperatures and even serious snow in the winter!
Cerro El Coronel
Translated to “Colonel Hill,” Cerro El Coronel provides some of the most astoundingly beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean and rolling hills surrounding Puerto Nuevo without being very far south of Tijuana. This scenic retreat is an ideal place to hike, camp, and really take time to be one with the natural environment surrounding you.
Valle De Guadalupe
The west coast has always been the heart of quality North American wine production, and the Baja peninsula is no exception. Baja’s growing wine country is centered around the Valle de Guadalupe. If you aren’t fluent in Spanish this endeavor can seem daunting at first glance, but with guided wine tours like Club Tengo Hambre, the task of finding good food and wine becomes a much easier task. Three of the more major wineries include Las Nubes, Mogor Badan, and Clos de Tres Cantos, each of which have been continuing to grow in notoriety.
About twenty miles south of Ensenada is La Bufadora, one of the largest marine geysers on Earth. This geyser is formed when oceanic waves break against a cave at the bottom of the cliff. The resulting explosion of water can reach upwards of 65 feet in height! Experience the power of nature in this awe-inspiring way, as a site of this sort can rarely be seen anywhere else in the world.
El Parque Binacional or Friendship Park
Dedicated by First Lady Pat Nixon in 1971, the Friendship Park at the coastal border of Mexico and the US was initially a commemoration of the boundaries set at the end of the Mexican-American War. This park is a good spot for reflection and to walk along the beach. Friendship Park has in many ways come to represent camaraderie and peace. Though current restrictions to the park have begun to detract from the park’s initial intention, it is still a site worthy of visiting if only for its uniqueness and the thoughtfulness it can evoke. If you are an American citizen, access with a photo ID has been restricted to Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
La Baja is a place that celebrates the diversity of its nature. Whether you celebrate through libations in the developing wine country or by taking time to meditate in La Baja’s many beautiful parks, there is no wrong approach. This list will help you get a step-up on navigating some of these sites of natural beauty and relaxation.