Between Km. 140 and 141, a newly paved road goes east to the settlement of San Telmo and then climbs into the Sierra San Pedro Mártir. Along the way, 50 kilometers from the highway, the historic Rancho Meling has been entertaining and feeding adventurous guests since the turn of the 20th century.
Owned and operated by the Johnson/Meling families since 1910, Rancho Meling (also known as Rancho San José, tel. 646/179-4106, www.ranchomeling.com, US$50 pp) was born as a base for gold-mining operations and then destroyed by bandits in the Mexican Revolution. It was rebuilt as a 4,000-hectare cattle ranch, and today it is a haven for motorcyclists, eco-tourists, fly-in guests, and anyone seeking the solitude of a rustic getaway in the mountains.
The working cattle ranch sits at an elevation of 670 meters in a stand of pines at the base of the sierra. Its 12 rooms all have private baths, hot water, and a fireplace or wood stove for heat. For larger groups or families, there is a four-bedroom/three-bath cabin. Hearty meals (US$6 breakfast, US$8 lunch, US$11 dinner) are cooked over a wood-fired stove and served at a long wooden table beside a large stone fireplace in the main house. The generator goes off at 10 P.M., but you can read by the light of a kerosene lamp after that.
The road to San Telmo comes 13.9 kilometers south of Colonet, just past a Pemex on the left. (Fill up before you head into the sierra.) Alternatively, you can fly your own plane and land on the ranch’s dirt landing strip. Baja Bush Pilots members receive 10 percent off daily rates.
Mike’s Sky Ranch
Just beyond Km. 138 on Mexico 3, a dirt road heads 35.5 kilometers south to Mike’s Sky Ranch (tel. 664/681-5514), a rustic resort in the sierra foothills (elev. 1,200 m) at the northwestern edge of the national park. Popular with off-road bikers, the ranch has been a checkpoint on the Baja 500 and Baja 1000 races for many years.
Accommodations are in 27 basic cabins (US$60 pp), and the rates include family-style meals and use of the swimming pool. Campsites cost US$5 per vehicle per night (water and shower use only). Campers can pay US$12 additional for dinner and US$7 for breakfast (served 6–10 A.M.) and lunch.
The road to Mike’s is rough in spots and can change drasti-cally with recent rains. Be-yond the ranch, this road con-tinues southwestward to join the newly paved road between Mexico 1 and Parque Nacional Sierra San Pedro Mártir.
© Nikki Goth Itoi from Moon Baja, 9th Edition