Have you ever taken the road south of Puerto Peñasco? Unleash your adventurous spirit. There is so much to see just an hour or two south of Rocky Point. Did you know you can see the largest concentration of Native American petroglyphs in Latin America? These 2,500-year-old examples of rock art are right around the corner from a Jesuit Mission originated in 1693 by Padre Kino. You can also stomp grapes or enjoy a vineyard and wine tour with some pretty impressive wines. The vineyard is about 15 minutes away from the beachfront community of Santo Tomas.
Driving south, you will pass the Airport and as the road bends south you’ll start seeing agricultural fields. About seventy five percent of the asparagus the US consumes is grown in this part of Sonora. You will pass citrus orchards, date palms, olive orchards and grape vineyards. The grapes in this region were originally grown primarily for brandy since brandy was the favorite alcohol in Mexico before tequila surpassed it in the late 60’s. I learned this and so much more at the Viñedos La Bonita wine tour. Their presentation is impressive, as it showcases many of the delicacies grown in the northern Sonora desert region. You will taste various foods produced locally from green olives, mesquite honey, dates, asparagus, jerky and more…along with about 5 of their wines, craft beers, and a special treat…Richard’s own special Sangria, (I will bet his Sangria becomes one their most requested products). Between the vineyard and the petroglyphs, you pass the old Presidente Brandy plant and just beyond that is the turnoff to the petroglyphs. They are on a private ranch, (Rancho Puerto Blanco) and therefore a guide is mandated for the purpose of protecting this historic site. A few minutes off the main road, a keen eye will immediately start seeing hundreds of etched rock carvings on the hillside. There are thousands of drawings from turtles to bighorn sheep, deer and even humans and constellations with many stories to be told. This area was home to thousands of native people, (From as old as 350 BC) related prehistorically to groups like the Hohokam, found in Arizona and New Mexico and became the Pima and Tohono O’odham of today. Originally these clans were hunter gatherer cultures until they learned to farm along the rivers in the area. They developed miles of canals and learned to harvest the plants found around them.
Shortly after the first Spanish explorers passed through in search of gold, several groups of missionaries came to bring Christianity, improved farming methods, and new crops from around the world to these Native Americans and others around the southwest. The most famous and successful of all the missionaries was the Italian Jesuit priest, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino (1645-1711). Padre Kino was responsible for the construction of 24 missions from Baja California, Sonora and into what later became Az. Just a few miles away from the petroglyphs and within the communal area of the same Native Americans that created the rock art is one of the best examples of the 24 missions Kino developed. The mission, Nuestra Señora de La Purisima Concepcion de Caborca was founded in 1693 and took many years to construct. It was so much more than a church and has some very interesting history from several martyred priests to it being used by the local community to defend against a large group of heavily armed Gringo invaders from the north. (There are still many bullet holes evident in the adobe walls.)
As long as you are down south you might want to visit Santo Tomas or Puerto Lobos. Puerto Lobos does have a couple fishing tournaments every year, as well as other annual events. One coming up on May 17th & 18th and one in October. There will likely be a follow up article about this May’s fishing tournament. The May tournament is all shore fishing and October will be from boats.
Santo Tomas is about 40 minutes north of Puerto Lobos and will be offering deals for anyone that rents one of their homes for the weekend of the fishing tournament. There are approximately 10 homes for rent in Santo Tomas, and more coming soon when phase 2 of their Estrella Condos finishes up. There is actually great fishing from the sandy beaches of Santo Tomas, and right now it is peak season. You can catch Corvina and Pompano as they travel a channel right off shore. If fishing is not your thing, Santo Tomas also has Kayak rentals, electric bikes, and horseback riding and a nice cantina & restaurant. Visit Mamachitas restaurant on the way to or on the way back from any of the tour destinations mentioned above. There are several guides in the Puerto Peñasco area that can be found in most chat rooms. The Winery can be found on Facebook as Viñedos La Bonita. A local guide service that does all of the tours is Elitetoursmx.com. Ruben Cordova runs the guide service and he can arrange any of the tours mentioned above.