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BrianInMexico

Nogales to Chapala Road Status

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Just drove down from British Columbia last week thru Nogales, AZ.  I make the trip from Nogales to Chapala in 2 days with an overnight stop in Los Mochis.  The Carretera and Autopista (15D) was completely ripped up throughout all of Sonora and most of Sinaloa.  15D was one lane in each direction on one side of the highway, with the other side (2 lanes) closed for maintenance/rebuilding, and switching from one pair to the other pair of lanes every few kilometers.  Strongly recommend that you choose a different route.  Construction appears like it will continue for months or even years!!  NOT safe, and if one accident along the way, highway will likely get closed until wreckage is cleared because not even a shoulder, paved or otherwise, to drive on!!  Will be going back the long way thru Laredo.

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Brian in Mexico,  that raod was exactly as you described 3 years ago when I came down in my 35foot motorhome.  Tested my 12 years of driving experince of driving my motorhome.  Lots of narrow roads for a motorhome.  Drove my motorhome back up 3 months later and the roads had improved greatly.  I guess that is not permanent or even semi permanent.

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And, it was also torn up in October, 2014, when we moved to Tucson.  I think they use 'roma driveway painters' to do their repairs.

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It sounds like 15D is often under construction in one spot or another every year.  We are leaving on October 30 and have all our reservations along the way since we have a yellow Lab and have to have pet-friendly hotels. It is 185 miles from our home near Scottsdale, AZ to  Nogales, where we will stop for the night in order to get an early start from the border at the Mariposa Truck Crossing outside Nogales. Then we are planning to stop in Navajoa(400 miles) and the next night in Mazatlan(350 miles) on our way to Ajijic(335 miles). On the other hand, if we have to go to Laredo, that is a 1065 miles (long 2 days)journey from our house. Then it sounds like crossing the border there can be really congested and take a long time. Then we have to drive 650 miles to Ajijic, stopping in Matajuala for one night.  

Pros and cons of each plan? Thoughts and opinions from you seasoned veterans out there? Many thanks.

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Crossing at Columbia bridge north of Laredo is a snap... Normally no lines... Coming from the north, it is actually easier to get to... 

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3 nights on the road in the US, no tolls, cheaper gas, motels clearly accepting or not accepting pets and the Columbia Bridge crossing (opens at 8am). Nice bathroom after clearing Mexico customs. Or Hwy 15??? No brainer. 

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Agreed...  even coming down through Chihuahua is better than using 15D it appears.

 

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Those are all valid points to consider about Phoenix to Nogales vs. Laredo It would be 440 miles further for us to go to Laredo, so at least one extra day and night on the road with longer drives each day, so that sort of negates the concerns about tolls and gas prices.  I 'm wondering if anyone has information on the status of 15D since the storms of the last 2 weeks. Is there a website to check on the Cuota road conditions in Mexico? I don't mind if it's in Spanish, thank you Google Translate.  If we decide to take 15D, I would like to make sure the roads and bridges on 15D weren't damaged near Los Mochis and Culiacan.

As for taking 49D through Chihuahua (which would only be 100 miles longer drive), what is the danger level driving through Chihuahua vs. Sinaloa?

Appreciate all the feedback from the voices of experience!

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IMO, unless there is some ‘immediate’ news of some kind of nefarious happenings on any given road in Mexico, no road is any better, from a ‘danger’ standpoint, than any other.  If you choose that route, cross at Santa Teresa in the western suburbs of El Paso. It is all cuota; there is a bypass of Chihuahua City. 

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Thanks, Rick. Since it is 986 miles from Santa Teresa to Ajijic, we would have to break that up into 2 nights (we have a dog and a driver with a newly-fused back), going about 300-400  miles each day, and preferably less miles on the last day so we get into Ajijic at a decent hour since it will be Dia de Los Muertos (Nov. 2). Would there be logical places to stay along the way that I can look up and book in advance?

 

Edited by Soleil
mistake on numbers

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Spend the night in El Paso.... close to the Santa Teresa crossing. Spend the next night in Jimenez (or a bit sooner in Camargo) at 385 miles. Spend the next night in Zacatecas, another 380 miles. Then on into Ajijic at 225 miles and 5 hours. Do NOT take hiway 54 from Zacatecas to Guadalajara although it looks like it would be shorter. It is shorter in miles but not hours as it is full of curves and is 2-lane.

This entire route is on either cuota or 4-lane free.

 

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Thanks for your prompt and informative reply, Rick! This sounds like it could be a great alternative for us to consider. However, because we are traveling with our 90 pound yellow lab,  I've been researching "dog-friendly hotels" in  each city. I looked up Hotel Santa Fe in Camargo, and it said "no pets." Then I looked up WIM in Camargo and there was not a pet policy listed. American Inn in Hidalgo del Parral said "No Pets." When I search for Pet Friendly hotels,  I can only find them in Chihuahua City. We have found and booked very nice Pet Friendly hotels  on the 15D route in Nogales, Navajoa, and Mazatlan, so we may just have to roll the dice and stick with our original plan. I have been messaging with a lady who just drove down last week from Nogales and she said there was very little construction and they did not have a problem.

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Hotel/Motel Paraiso, in Culiacan, Sinaloa, is pet friendly and very nice, yet economical & has very secure, gated parking in front of your room. They have a good restaurant with room service, which is great & means you don't have to leave the dog in the room alone.  It is on Av. International, and close to centro & we found a street-side mariscos place, where we could eat with our dog at an outdoor table; good seafood platters.

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Soleil:   I travel 650-700 Miles per average day, so Laredo route  to Ajijic means and extra half day for me over the Nogales route.  At 350-400 miles per day, it will likely add a full day for you unless you do 2 days in US at 500 miles per day.  Your choices seem to be Nogales route to Ajijic = 1 short day US plus 3 avrg days Mexico VS Laredo route to Ajijic = 2 long days US + 2 avrg days Mexico (cross at Columbia Bridge and stay at Matehuala).  Note that the road from Nogales to Navajoa is NOT just under construction here and there, it is a mess all the way.  Crossing at El Paso is a third option, but I have no experience on this route because I will NOT travel thru Juarez even after all these years living & travelling thru Mexico.  Have a nice trip.  I am leaving tomorrow via Laredo/Columbia and will apy the extra 1/2 day in the car rather than take such a dangerous road as when I came down last week.  Obviously I don't mind driving if I drive 3,200 miles each way for a 9 day visit!!

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Brian, Thanks for the great info. We need to be in Ajijic on Fri. Nov. 2, so we can adjust our departure dates from Phoenix accordingly. Now that Hurricane Willa is bearing down on Mazatlan, our trip down 15D seems doomed. So we are reading your post again and we appreciate your years of experience on all of these roads. I noticed that RickS still prefers to cross at Santa Teresa outside of El Paso, and he recommended that we could break up the trip to Ajijic into 3 legs, but I am having trouble finding pet-friendly hotels along the way around Jiminez and Zacatecas. So here are my new questions for you:

1-How long would it take to get to San Luis Potosi, which is 450 miles from Laredo? There is a Staybridge Suites there which is pet-friendly. Then the next day we would have a shorter drive to Ajijic of 221 miles which would be good since it will be Nov. 2 Dia de Los Muertos, and we are staying at Hotel Victoria near Centro so parking and crowds could be an issue. We don't want to get in late that day, that's for sure.

2- Any concerns about massive amounts of rain in the Monterrey area as Hurricane Willa cuts across Mexico towards South Texas this week? In other words, is the cuota in good shape and not susceptible to flood or mudslide damage?

3-Where can I find a breakdown of the toll amounts we will owe at each toll booth, or can you give me a good ball park figure of how many pesos we will need for the tolls?

Thanks so much, Brian, for all your help. Travelers have to be flexible and prepared for everything, including late-season Pacific hurricanes! Go figure, right?

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The Point to Point route site has not updated prices in a long time. Consider it LOW due to not factoring in the price increase in tolls earlier this year or the tolls on the new Microliberamento here.

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Beware of Monterrey! We came through last month and it took 4 hrs to go 5km! Construction has closed down two lanes... It may be better now but check if you come this way...

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On 10/13/2018 at 6:05 PM, Soleil said:

It sounds like 15D is often under construction in one spot or another every year.  We are leaving on October 30 and have all our reservations along the way since we have a yellow Lab and have to have pet-friendly hotels. It is 185 miles from our home near Scottsdale, AZ to  Nogales, where we will stop for the night in order to get an early start from the border at the Mariposa Truck Crossing outside Nogales. Then we are planning to stop in Navajoa(400 miles) and the next night in Mazatlan(350 miles) on our way to Ajijic(335 miles). On the other hand, if we have to go to Laredo, that is a 1065 miles (long 2 days)journey from our house. Then it sounds like crossing the border there can be really congested and take a long time. Then we have to drive 650 miles to Ajijic, stopping in Matajuala for one night.  

Pros and cons of each plan? Thoughts and opinions from you seasoned veterans out there? Many thanks.

Have made the trips you've described with exactly the same stops many times. You may also consider going through Ciudad Juarez with overnight in Jimenez. Cuts one day off the Laredo-Matehuala route

 

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chartiec: Thanks for the suggestions. It looks like the Laredo to Matahuala to Ajijic route is going to work best for us. We have gotten great recommendations on Facebook about  the Las Palmas Midway Inn in Matahuala, so we are going to try that route for our first trip to Ajijic. We'll keep the route through Chihuahua in mind for the future.

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... and although the Las Palmas Midway has a restaurant, consider treating yourself to a very good restaurant/food right across the street/highway.... La Noria.    I have seen some 'recent' reviews that say that the service is not as good but I ate there earlier this year and it was as good as I always remembered. There were very few people there (not unusual) so the wait folks were all over us with service.

 

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Just bumping this post as I am hoping to garner experience from anyone else that tries the drive from Nogales for updates on the trip experience. We to are hoping to cross there on our journey down from WA state in December but will hope others post their experiences between now and then. I know it is a mess right now for sure:/

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I would bet that Hurricane Wilma did a number on the highway. We came down that way in 2013 and ran into a tropical storm north of Mazatlan and could see the asphalt coming apart in front of my eyes! There is no appreciable milage difference if you head east on I-90, then southeast on I-82 into Oregon, then Utah and head south thru NM into Texas and down just north of Laredo to take the Columbia Bridge crossing (opens 8am). If you spent the last night in the US around San Antonio, the next night would be in Matehuela. Then easy drive to Lakeside. You could do the whole drive in one day, staying in Cottula, an hour north of Columbia Bridge. BUT you are traveling in the shortest daylight of the year. The last hour or so will be in the dark but the highway from east of Guadalajara to the new Microliberamento to Chapala is good, well lit highway. 

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