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Parque Natural del Desierto Central

This "rock garden" possibly has the most beautiful desert scenery that exists on Earth (at least it's the best on this peninsula). Natural fresh water pools up arroyos among card�n, boojum (cirio), elephant trees, and hundreds of other desert flora. It's exhilarating.

Nearby are examples, within walking distance of the highway, of ancient Indian rock-painting.

Places to stay (exhaustive list):

La Pinta -- Clean, upscale location (as are all of the La Pinta locations), catering to the traveling tourists who are willing to pay the prices this chain charges. 800-262-4500. Moderate

Mini Hotel Caba�as de Linda -- A new accommodation just north of the La Pinta, and across the road.  Quite rustic, but hey, there's not much to choose from here.   14 units available.  Budget

Rancho Santa In�z -- Not quite a mile from the turnoff south of town. Bunk accommodations. Campers and RV'ers allowed to stay for free, but they expect you to eat there. Tent-campers, I'm told, should be aware of the bands of stray dogs that infiltrate the area at times (as they reportedly have bitten some of the clientele). Ultra-Budget

Places to eat:

Las Cazuelas -- At the La Pinta Hotel. Decent. Costs more than it's worth. Budget to Moderate

Rancho Santa In�s -- Very good place with typical ranch fare.  Go for a meal in the restaurant, or a snack on the long outdoor wooden park table.  Budget

Cafe (no name) -- Skirting the north side of the closed Pemex station.  The walls (or should I call it a "wind-break?") are made of fallen Cirio (Boojum trees).   Open 24 hours (so says the sign).  Budget

Things to do:

Explore the desert. Anywhere.

Catavin3.jpg (48573 bytes) Ccatav1.jpg (46481 bytes)  At the arroyo north of town near km 171, there is water generally running across the road. If you follow the water up the arroyo no more than a half-mile, you'll discover blue palms and pools of water in the rocks that were used by the Indians hundreds of years ago. There is a small painted cave nearby also. If you're standing near the highway at km 171, look up the rock-outcropping between the two arroyos (and on the left of the arroyo with the pools). Near the top, and to the right, there is a larger, three-pronged card�n cactus, and a white wooden sign. That's the sign marking the cave.

North of the arroyo, and to the west, is wonderful desert scenery (off-road). Lots of good places for camping.

For the adventurous, Mission Santa Maria lies approximately 13 miles east of the ranch at Santa In�s.  Get permission at the ranch first (and information on the road condition).  It's not an easy road, and the last mile or so must be covered on foot, as the road is impassable at that point for vehicles.  The Mission ruins are old adobe and really not much to see, but the area itself is beautiful and probably worth the trip alone..... but you can use the excuse of going to see the Mission if you like.

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Last revised: June 21, 2002

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