Valle de los Cirios (Valley of the Candles)
Stretching from Cataviña almost to Guerrero Negro, the Valley of the Candles in Baja California is one of the few untouched areas prevailing in the North Pacific coast. Although this only a few hundred miles of Southern California, the region has remained far away from urban areas, allowing a lot of wildlife flourish unhindered by impacts and human presence. It is a vital project of preservation embarked upon by CONAP (the Mexican organization dedicated to protecting natural resources). Visitors to the area will recognize it by signs that mark the highway, and by the crazy looking cirio cactus with their bobbly heads that flourish in this desolate region.
Located west of Bahía de los Angeles and east of Punta Prieta, this is definitely an off-road experience. Be sure to have a sturdy SUV before attempting to navigate the seriously bumpy road (about 45 minutes to an hour) that cuts off the main road to the mission. But it is worth it. Misión San Francisco Borja, the last Jesuit mission of Baja California, was founded in 1762 thanks to the contribution of Doña María de Borja, duchess of Bejar and Gandía, in honor of her ancestry. Today, it has been partially restored and is a beauty, nestled in the desolate hills.
Sierra de San Francisco
Perhaps Baja’s best-preserved rock art, ‘rupestres’, the five most accessible are Cueva del Ratón, Cueva Pintada, Cueva de las Flechas, Cueva de la Música (Los Músicos), and Boca de San Julio.
Santa Barbara Church Parish
In Santa Rosalia, on the Sea of Cortez, is the Santa Barbara Church Parish, a metallic structure created by Gustav Eiffel – the same Eiffel as the famous Eiffel Tower in France. This all-steel, pre-fabricated church was erected in the little town in 1897, having been preconstructed to be displayed at the 1889 World Exposition in Paris.
How would you like to travel back in time and pay a visit to Southern California as it was over a century ago? Imagine the unspoiled desert vistas, soaring mountains, and a Pacific Ocean that was teeming with fish, lobster, abalone and whales, along with an abundance of other marine life. While those days may very well be gone along the California shoreline north of the border, that is certainly not the case just off the picturesque coast of the Baja California peninsula only a few hundred miles to the south, at Cedros Island.
Mision San Ignacio de Kadakaaman
With lava-block walls nearly 1.2m (4ft) thick, the former Jesuit Misión San Ignacio de Kadakaamán stands directly across from San Ignacio’s small plaza. On the site of a former Cochimí ranchería (indigenous settlement), the mission has been in continuous use since its founding in 1728.