Cruising the Sea of Cortez

Directions to San Carlos, Mexico
By Bud and Penny Clark

Notes from a trip to San Carlos, Mexico in November 2003.

We left Dysart Rd. & I-10 at 7:30 am and arrived here at 3:15 pm, which seems to be the average time for us. The total is about 440 miles. You will be traveling on Mexico Highway 15 all the way to the San Carlos turn off. It is for the most part a pretty good four-lane divided highway except through the towns and cities (Hermosillo is the only city).

I have routed you through Hermosillo because the bypass is not well marked. I have reset the odometer often so that any differences in odometer readings will not compound.

You will need to purchase Mexican auto insurance, which is available in Nogales or at the Mexican customs area. You will need proof of citizenship (such as a passport, but birth certificates and picture identification will work). Bring three copies of your vehicle registration.

Take I-10 though Tucson to I-19. Exit I-19 at exit 4 which is also the truck route. Exit 4 is 187 miles from Dysart Rd. Turn right on Mariposa Rd. If you want to purchase insurance here turn right at Frank Reed Rd. (first stop light). Go about 100 feet and turn left at Rivas Business Park and get your insurance here. Go back to Mariposa Rd and turn right. Gas is $2.40 a gallon in Mexico so you want to top off here. Cheapest place is Fiesta Market about .8 miles from insurance place. Continue on Mariposa Rd. for about 1.4 miles to the border. WELCOME TO MEXICO!!!

At the border bear left for Mexico 15 to Hermosillo & Magdalena. Watch out for the topes (speed bumps); this one is wicked. Re-set trip odometer.

After 5.1 miles you will come to a toll booth which costs 33 pesos (as of this writing there were about 10 pesos to the dollar). Another .6 miles will put you at an inspection station. Bear to the left lane. Wait for a light. If you get a green proceed. If you get a red turn into the inspection lanes.

Once you are cleared to go, follow the signs to Hermosillo & Magdalaena. Do not go to Nogales Centro. After 6 miles you will come to the Immigration and Customs area where you’ll get your visas and Sonora-only auto import permits. The last time through for us it took 30 minutes just to get the visas, but it can take longer. (Just be patient, polite and smile a lot.)

Once you have all the paperwork you can go through lane #2 “Nothing to Declare”. Wait for a light. If you get a green light proceed, if you get a red light turn right into the customs area. Once you are cleared of the red tape you are free and clear the rest of the way.

Dollars work OK at the toll booths, but it is easy to get ripped off at the Pemex stations.

Re-set odometer. After 7.8 miles you will come to Cibita. Watch out for topes when you first enter town. After 27.9 miles you will come to Imuris. Watch out for topes. Go straight to Santa Anna on highway 15. After 37.6 miles you will come Magdalena de Kino. You want to bear left for the cuota road (cuota = toll). Soon you will come to a toll booth. Fork out 17 pesos. If you need to stop to eat the Asado el Farolito taco stand is good. Carne asada tacos are good. This is just past the toll booth.

Re-set odometer. After 12.3 miles you will come to Santa Anna. Bear left and follow signs to highway 15 and Hermosillo. This leg of the trip from Santa Anna is the longest and most boring. After 38.2 miles you will get to Benjamin Hill. The D’gymon restaurant there is pretty good if you are hungry. At 104.5 miles you will hit another toll booth costing 53 pesos. This the last toll and the outskirts of Hermosillo.

Re-set odometer. At 9.3 miles you will come to an intersection with a sign that says Guaymas to left and Hermosillo Cento straight ahead. Go straight. After this intersection ignore signs to Hermosillo Centro and follow signs to Guaymas. Stay in center lane where there is one. Watch out for local busses in right lane. At 15.6 miles is the last stop light in Hermosillo.

The next 85 miles are on real good four-lane divided highway. At 84.8 you will see a sign that says Obregon Libre, follow it, do not take the Obregon Cuota road.

At 88.5 miles turn right to San Carlos. (If you go under a highway overpass you missed the turn.) At 95.7 miles you will come to a sorta-rotary with a road going right and the main road going straight ahead. Go straight. Follow signs to Marina San Carlos, about another 1/4 mile. WELCOME TO SAN CARLOS.