Dead Car Canyon

Once again, I headed south of the border for a weekend of fun in Baja California. Our destination this time was Guadalupe Canyon, an oasis in an otherwise parched and dusty region east and south of Tecate. There, hot mineral springs bubble out of the mountain, feeding man-made hot tubs in a variety of secluded camp sites nestled under palm trees.

From Tecate, we headed east across a wide plateau, passing through the rural town of Rumorosa before descending down a long, steep toll road into a vast desert basin. The road curved and twisted back and forth down the mountain side, dangerous cliffs on the side of the road poised like jaws waiting to swallow unwary automobiles. Glancing over the side, we saw many past victims rusting at the bottoms of the ravines. It wasn't long before one of our teenage companions dubbed the area "Dead Car Canyon."

Safely reaching the bottom of the grade, we left the asphalt behind and plowed across Laguna Salada, a dry lake bed where, oddly enough, opera star Luciano Pavarotti had performed just one week ago. As we crossed the dry sand, leaving huge clouds of dust in our wake, Lory pointed at the mountain range to the east. Despite her persistent attempts to get me to see the optical illusion of the "vanishing mountains," I just couldn't see it.

As soon as I could after arriving and setting up camp, I changed into my bathing suit and jumped in the hot tub. After four hours on the road (two of which, technically, were off the road), I was ready for some heat therapy on my sore back. After a week of back pain and chiropractic adjustments, I was ready for a weekend of soaking in hot mineral spring water. And oh, how sweet it was.

Next: Diving in the Desert

Photos | E-mail comments | Back to Home Page

Content, photography & design © 2001-2003 Michael Strickland
All photographs digitally watermarked
· Unauthorized use prohibited