Empty beaches and trails promise great and rewarding challenges that lay ahead for those willing to give it a chance. It is often said that Baja is the last frontier for adventure, from off-road adventures like the most grueling off-road racing in the world, known as Baja 1000, to incredible fishing, surfing, and hiking. No matter what, you are in the mood for an adventure waiting to be had for anyone.
Baja Designs and a few friends loaded up our Jeep and headed for the border for an adventure to chase the Baja 1000, which started in La Paz this year. With that in mind, we thought, why not take the long way down? We wanted to create a guide that showcases our adventures, and we thought, why not start with an adventure where it all began? Baja.
THINGS TO BRING
We recommend bringing a four-wheel drive vehicle with a minimum of 33″ tires; while not completely necessary, it is highly encouraged in case you get into those sandy areas so you can minimize the chances of getting stuck. We brought our 2018 Jeep Wrangler JL on 37-inch Maxxis tires and Fox Factory 3.0 shocks with a ton of accessories.
The truth is that insurance is required in Baja. It is the law, and American insurance policies don’t cover international driving, even if you drove that vehicle from the U.S. But not all too often that it is effectively communicated that it is needed. Fortunately, our friends at Baja Bound can make sure you are covered with the proper amount of coverage and can even recommend a few taco stands along the way. Anything could happen in Baja; having the right insurance partner can make your trip stress-free.
Of course, the roads can be very dark if you are traveling at night, and having the proper lighting is not only a performance advantage but a necessity for safety on the roads there. While we always recommend our Squadron SAE lights as a necessity for almost any vehicle, it is also important to have a great set of off-road lights with great distance and nearfield visibility.
This doesn’t mean you need a Trophy Truck lighting package to go explore Baja; in fact, our Jeep is simply overkill and unnecessary for most people. Unless you are prerunning in Baja and moving at 60-80mph off-road, you need a much simpler setup. What we recommend would be a pair of XL80s or LP4s, which is phenomenal lighting for nearfield visibility with great intensity.
Baja California, the long and narrow peninsula that stretches southward from the United States-Mexico border, is rich in history and cultural heritage. We aimed to head south and crossed the border through Mexicali, and from there, it was a two-hour drive on highway 5 until our first stop for tacos in San Felipe on the Sea of Cortez which we camped on the beach.
The next day, we headed for Bay of LA or Bahía de los Ángeles, but first, we stopped at the Chenowth Museum, which is filled with many historical Volkswagen buggies that have been racing in Baja since the early 70s. To our surprise, we even found a few with Baja Designs lights on them.
We hopped on the highway and headed south, and to make the drive a little more adventurous, we took a 25-mile off-road detour starting at the old Cocos Corner. The views were nothing but spectacular, and we ended up in the Bay of LA.
After the course of the next couple of days, we headed further south, stopping at the Misión San Francisco Borja, officially known as Mission Santa Gertrudis, built-in 1721. There is a property care taker who was kind enough to give us a tour of the historic building.
We ended up staying the night near there in a beautiful valley, and the next day, we realized we had a long drive to La Paz, but along the way, we made a few stops for the incredible views in Mulege.
When we finally arrived in La Paz the next day. We met all of Baja Designs racers at the contingency SCORE International Baja 1000 just before they made their 1300 mile journey to the finish line in Ensenada.
The next morning, we chased Bryce Menzies for the Baja 1000, photographing him along the way , and for over 20 hours, we drove 1000 miles back to Ensenada for the finish line where Bryce would win his first Baja 1000.
The Long Way to La Paz journey was more than just a thrilling off-road adventure for us. It became a personal exploration through rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks like the Chenowth Museum and Misión San Francisco Borja, and the awe-inspiring landscapes that demanded the right equipment – a capable vehicle, Mexican insurance, and the necessity of proper lighting. As we reached La Paz, our journey unfolded, capturing the essence of Baja’s spirit. In the heart of it all, our involvement in the Baja 1000 highlighted not just the race but the enduring legacy of our dominance in the lighting industry. It’s a testament to the spirit of adventure that defines Baja California, a journey that left us with memories etched in the dust trails and starlit skies of this remarkable peninsula.