What is it like to drive in Sinaloa, Mexico. Should I be apprehensive about attempting it? ...
As I begin this story, I think about the news from the USA. Two of the stories were about carjackings in different US cities and another was about something called ‘jugging’ where a robber follows you from a bank or ATM with the intent of stealing your hard-earned money. This is not a discussion of the relative ‘safeness’ of driving in Sinaloa, Mexico as compared to anywhere else. I can only tell you about my own personal experience.
Sinaloa is a large State on the western Coast of Mexico. It is located across the Sea of Cortez from the lower Baja California Peninsula, bordered by the states of Sonora on the north, Chihuahua and Durango on the east and Nayarit to the south. Based in Mazatlán, I have driven to the following cities in Sinaloa: Concordia, Copala, Rosario, La Noria, El Quelite, La Cruz, Cosala, Culiacan, Guamuchil and Mocorito. I have also driven to Durango, which is in the State of Durango, and many of the small towns along the way such as El Salto.
If you want to learn about the beauty and different attractions of the towns and villages in Sinaloa, you can find that information on the website's main menu under Area Info/Day Trips, or click here: ‘Day Trips’.
My least favorite small town is Copala. We drove there before the Durango Highway was completed and it is located on a narrow winding road that we had to share with large, slow trucks. That and the town itself was a disappointment except for the banana cream pie which was good, but no better than what you can get in Mazatlán.
My favorite town is Mocorito which is north of Culiacan. I was surprised by the beauty and cleanliness of the small village. The hotel we stayed in was first rate with a fine restaurant and a pool on the top floor with an excellent view of the entire area. It was easy to get to on the Culiacan tollway and then a smaller road (207) through Guamuchil. The town square was bustling with activities for adults and children alike. Be sure to have a good navigation system because, if you miss the road in Guamuchil, you will end up driving through the town and it is very confusing. I drove around in circles for 20 minutes before we finally stopped to ask directions and, to answer your question, yes, one of the ladies in the vehicle did suggest we ask directions probably 18 minutes earlier.
Taking the Culiacan Expressway (Autopista) is the way to travel. The tolls vary from (as I recall) 70 pesos to 200 pesos. There are toll booths at varying intervals and I’m not sure what logic was used to place them where they are. (TIP: Carry small bills for paying the tolls). For the most part the delay at the toll booths is negligible. One time a large truck got stuck in the booth for the line we were in, begging the question of why it was in the line when the far-right line is for trucks. Anyway, it took about 20 minutes to get it untangled and I was justifiably upset because people behind us were getting moved to a different toll booth line before we were. Patience my friends is a virtue when driving anywhere.
There are no topes (speed bumps) on the tollway, but the smaller, rural roads have topes in each of the pueblo’s you pass through and a few out in the country that defy logic as to why they are there. Most are marked but not all of them. You to really pay attention or get behind a local and watch what they do. The road to Cosala is especially full of topes and a snaking narrow road through the mountains. Twice I encountered local ranchers driving their cattle down the highway. Be very careful.
The drive to Durango is an adventure, through some very rough terrain and the highway isn’t always well maintained. It is basically a three-lane road with the middle lane for passing in both directions. You have to be very careful and watch the traffic flow. People pass on blind curves in the tunnels with no regard of who might be coming the other way. That includes the big trucks and busses. The spectacular Baluarte Bridge along the Durango–Mazatlán highway, is third-highest cable-stayed bridge in the world. If you have a problem with heights, don't look down as you cross it, and definitely don't stop on the bridge and get out for a better view of the canyon below!
El Quelite is a really fun trip. You can take the toll road to the pueblo of Marmon on Sinaloa 502 (watch carefully for the exit of fthe Autopista) to Highway 15 then a right on Sinaloa 501 (topes as you enter the village). You can also take the free highway 15 to Sinaloa 501. It is faster as long as you don’t get behind a truck or there is an accident. I usually take the free highway. El Quelite is full of street vendors, horseback riding, and good food.
Safe driving everyone!
P.S. - Here a good article with informative comments from readers who have experience driving in Mexico and Sinaloa.
Comment from: [Member]
Thanks Rich, You improved it a lot. Love the pictures.