For those of us who have crossed the US/Mexican border 100 times or more, getting to Rocky Point and back is something like switching on the autopilot. The roads are all in good shape and with the same caution you use when driving anywhere else, you should experience no trouble at all. Andy Boatright of Goodyear, AZ, was planning his first trip to Peñasco, and asked me for advice.
ANDY: It’s about 225 miles from here to there. Is that right?
CAP’N GREG: Close enough. In fact, whether you live in the Phoenix area or in Tucson, it’s the same distance. You should count on four hours on the road.
ANDY: What if I want to get there quicker?
CAP’N GREG: Depending on traffic, which can be heavy at times, and if you have nerves of steel, you can drive 165 mph on some of the straight stretches. If the cops don’t get you, and if you don’t care about gas mileage or your safety or that of your passengers, and if you don’t run into a fellow traveler or a Border Patrol vehicle or a cow or a horse, and there’s not a lot of back-up at the border, you can cut maybe 20 minutes off the trip.
ANDY: Doesn’t seem worth the risk.
CAP’N GREG: Trust me. I’ve tried it. It takes that extra 20 minutes for my blood pressure to drop to normal.
ANDY: So what’s the best route?
CAP’N GREG: As you’re west of Phoenix, take I-10 west, south on 85 through Gila Bend and Ajo to Lukeville. From there you follow the signs south 60 miles to Rocky Point. (From Mesa, I prefer hitting I-8 then west to Gila Bend, then south on 85. From Tucson, it’s 86 west through Sells, then hit 85 south at Why.)
ANDY: I understand I need insurance to drive in Mexico.
CAP’N GREG: Yup. It’s the law for every vehicle, boat, travel trailer, motorcycle, jet ski or ATC to have minimum liability insurance. Call your insurance agent, or stop in Ajo or at Why to buy the insurance. You’ll need current registrations to fill out the paperwork.
ANDY: And at the border?
CAP’N GREG: Coming in, green is go, red is stop. Answer the questions when asked. If you have a pet with you, provide current shot records. Stick to the posted speed limits through Sonoyta. Coming back, you and every passenger MUST have a passport. Answer the questions. Don’t try to be funny. The agents have a very serious job to do.
ANDY: That’s it?
CAP’N GREG: Bon voyage, Andy. And bienvenidos a Mexico.