New Highway From Puerto Peñasco to El Golfo Open
Highway SON 003 connecting Puerto Peñasco and El Golfo de Santa Clara is now open for travel. The new highway connects Rocky Point directly to San Luis Rio Colorado (Yuma). The long awaited shortcut to California is finished.
Highway SON 003 is found by turning off the main highway back to Arizona (Mex 008) at the turn off to Laguna del Mar. The highway begins where the road to Laguna del Mar turns north to the Laguna Shores Country Club. It continues along the coast of the Sea of Cortez to El Golfo de Santa Clara, 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Puerto Peñasco. This 90 km section is the only new construction on the 230km (143 miles) highway to San Luis Rio Colorado. Our total travel time was three-and-a-half hours, but we often stopped along the way.
Highway SON 003 is only a two lane highway. The posted speed limit is 90 km per hour (55 mph).
A biosphere reserve information center is found just six miles north of Rocky Point. Highway 003 runs through the reserve (Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y El Gran Desierto de Altar), posted signs prohibit stopping and entering the reserve anywhere. A second information pullout is located closer to El Golfo.
While Highway SON 003 follows the coast, the Sea of Cortez is only visible from the highway for short distances along the way. About nine miles north of Rocky Point is the El Sol Bar and Restaurant.
Signs soon indicate the presence of wetlands, “zona de humedales.” Posted signs along the highway clearly prohibit any off-road vehicles and trespassing. The area is part of the protected Humedales del Delta del Río Colorado, of Baja California and Sonora.
The highway is marked along the way with kilometer posts, and at KP51 there is an estuary and sand dunes along the road. A warning sign cautions drivers to be alert for sand piling up on the asphalt. We encountered sand on the shoulder of the road in two locations, but not on the traveled portion of the roadway. All drivers should remain alert for shifting sands, which can be encountered around any corner or hill.
Highway 003 actually bypasses El Golfo, to enter the town make a left turn southbound at a road junction where the new SON 003 ends and connects to the old highway north to San Luis Rio Colorado. Travel one mile south to enter El Golfo de Santa Clara. Unfortunately, this one mile of road looks like a landfill with large amounts of garbage littering both sides of the road all the way into town.
As you would continue into the town of El Golfo and travel along the only paved section of roadway beside a school, houses, and small businesses. Dirt roads intersect the main paved section, which was no more than several hundred yards in length. The dirt roads led to the Sea of Cortez. No Pemex station was visible anywhere from the main road. Reports from other travelers claim there is a Pemex station somewhere in town.
El Golfo, has a Pemex station in town. Be warned: the Mexican government will prosecute anyone who enters the natural preserve. The Mexican military may arrest you if you are caught in the dunes, estuaries, and wetlands. No ATVs allowed.
If you ever have an emergency anywhere in the State of Sonora, just dial the new hotline “help” number 078 to the GREEN ANGELS.
The distance from El Golfo de Santa Clara to San Luis Rio Colorado on Highway SON 003 is 111km (69 miles).
This road is not like the section from Puerto Peñasco to El Golfo. Pot-holes are found along the way. So remain alert at all times. Never assume the old highway meets modern engineering design or construction standards.
Citrus groves interlaced with agave plants are found about 30 miles north of El Golfo. A tire repair shop sign (a painted wheel in the sand) indicated a repair shop was located five miles ahead. A small village is located about 38.2 miles north of El Golfo, where the repair shop was located. The mountains from the Baja side of the Sea of Cortez are visible to the west. There is also a church, a school, and a fish store. The village ends 39.1 miles north of El Golfo. A transmission tower is located 40.4 miles north, and there is a small store selling wheat and honey on the east side of the highway. Trees started to appear and the desert began to give way to irrigated agriculture.
Approximately 41.7 miles north of El Golfo, in the town of Estacíon Riito, the highway jogged right over railroad tracks. San Luis Rio Colorado is 39 kilometers (24 miles) away.