Of the four larger canyons in this part of the Sierra de Juárez, 400-hectare Cañon de Guadalupe is the most popular among hikers and campers because of its healing hot springs. In this high-elevation oasis, granite peaks tower over a sea of blue fan palms.
Waterfalls, prehistoric rock art, and solar power all are part of the experience. Rock climbers will find challenging pitches at Cañon Tajo.
Campsites at Guadalupe Canyon Hot Springs and Campground (U.S. tel. 949/673-2670, www.guadalupe-canyon.com , US$50–75) are arranged to afford some privacy. Each of the eight campsites features its own private hot tub made of river rock and concrete, and you can adjust the temperature between 26 and 41°C. The sites can accommodate multiple vehicles, and there is a two-night minimum on weekends and a three-night minimum on holiday weekends. Pets are welcome, with proof of vaccinations.
Facilities for campers include outhouses, showers, and a market that sells the basics. Refrigeration is provided by 45-kilogram blocks of ice. The owners do not want you to collect firewood or disturb any of the natural surroundings, but firewood is for sale. The canyon is popular on the holidays and the weekends, so book early.
For tours of the Cañon de Guadalupe, contact Rupestres (cell tel. 686/158-9921, explorandobajacalifornia [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$70).
From Mexicali , take Calle Guadalajara about eight kilometers south to Mexico 2 West and follow the highway for 32 kilometers. The first turn is labeled Cañon de Guadalupe and Laguna Salada. The road is available only from the eastbound lanes, so you’ll need to pass the intersection and double back at the next U-turn opportunity.
This first turn is faster and more direct, but because it uses the dry lakebed of the Laguna Salada for 40 kilometers, it will be muddy and impassable following any rain. When you drive across the lakebed, don’t worry if there are multiple tracks. Follow the most worn route, keep heading south/southwest, and look for the occasional sign to the canyon.
If you’re not comfortable navigating the lakebed, you can take the second turnoff, which is 4.3 kilometers farther west and also labeled Cañon de Guadalupe. This road has a higher elevation, so it’s less vulnerable to rain, but it takes longer (about 45 minutes to go 43 km) and is a less comfortable ride.
Both roads merge at the opening of the canyon. The rest of the drive is increasingly winding and rocky and recommended only for high-clearance vehicles.
Eleven kilometers from the main road, a very rocky few hundred meters will bring you to the entrance.