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Traveling the Route of the Rio Sonora by RV offers opportunities for an excellent excursion with some pre-planning and understanding of the area you are going to visit. You are going to see some magnificent scenery in a rustic southwestern environment, historic small Mexican communities, old Spanish missions and churches and meet some truly wonderful people. You won’t see casinos, neon-lit hotels and fast food restaurants. Established RV parks, as we know them in the US are non-existent. So do your maintenance before you leave and be prepared to operate in a self contained mode. Isn’t this why you bought your RV in the first place?
Driving Your RV
Good Roads-Sonora Highway 118 from the junction with Mexico Highway 2 in Cananea to the junction with Mexico Highway 14 northeast of Ures is a paved two-lane highway. Speed limits will vary from 60 to 80 km/hour (35-50 mph). The route is very scenic and follows the Sonora River valley for the most part. There are two high mountain pass areas but these will have passing lanes on them. Be patient, take your time and enjoy the ride.
Bad Shoulders – Typically, it isn’t the roads that are the problem but
often the shoulders. In places there isn’t enough room to pull off of the
road, or where you can there may be a sharp drop off the pavement. Roads are
frequently repaved and the edges are not graded so that it is a smooth
maneuver onto the shoulder so...
Night Driving - - Our advice is NOT to drive at night. Roads are not particularly well lit and at times you may encounter road construction, agricultural equipment or farm animals (with no taillights) on the road. The chance that you may have to stop quickly, even during daylight is very high. So it is best to travel during the day when visibility is best.
In the Towns - - As you stop to visit the communities along the Rio Sonora, bear in mind that some of these towns were established nearly 400 years ago. Generally if you stick to main streets, you should not have a problem negotiating them in an RV. Side street exploring might best be done on foot or in your towed car, if you have one.
Rest Areas – Are not organized by the state. Most common rest stops in Mexico are the Gas Stations (Pemex), which have ample paved and at times unpaved areas you can pull into. Gas stations are always a safe place to stop and take a nap if needed. Some have restaurants that serve up good--typically trucker food or small markets where you can buy something cold or hot to drink and snack foods. Most have restroom facilities that are usually OK. Theses are not considered public however and usually charge a 2 – 3 peso fee for use. You will receive a small amount of tissue for your donation. Your donation helps the owner pay for the water, which is costly in the desert.
Tolls – There are no tolls on the route of the Rio Sonora.
Fuel – Mexican gasoline and diesel from Pemex is high quality. Unleaded regular (called Magna) fuel has aGREEN label, unleaded premium (called premium) a RED label and diesel is found in a separate area with Black pumps. Gasoline is generally a bit more expensive in Mexico but diesel is considerably cheaper. If your rig uses gasoline, fill up in the USA before you cross the border. If diesel, fill up in Mexico. Most gas stations will not accept credit cards so be prepared to pay cash, preferably in pesos.
Green Angels - There are state run roadside assistance teams that patrol the highways to give aid. They are equipped with a few parts, never any for a RV, but they have powerful radios and will arrange for help. If you see a green truck pull up with a green cross on its side, the Green Angels have arrived. They won’t charge you for service but they will charge for any parts or fuel they provide you with. Mexicans are very friendly and helpful when it comes to being broken down on the road since most of them have had the experience. Don’t be afraid to flag down truckers or others passing by. They will stop if they can help you, they won’t hold you up and you’ll probably make a friend!
RV'ing in Your RV
Camping with your RV – All beaches and waterways in Mexico are federal territory and open to public use without restrictions. Along the Route of the Rio Sonora, there is an established campground at the Agua Caliente (Hot Springs) Water Park west of Aconchi. Other possible overnight areas include Pemex stations and roadside restaurants. Ask first if it is permitted to park overnight.
RV Park Quality – Expect to operate in a self-contained mode.
Water –The best rule in Mexico is to buy gallon jugs of water in the market for drinking. For brushing your teeth or cooking the water hook-ups are safe.
Electricity – Probably not available
Shopping for Groceries – Mexican supermarkets carry just about anything you are looking for. The packaging may look different and you may not know what to call it in Spanish, but usually the clerk will try to help you. Due to the warm climate fruits and vegetables in Mexico are often much more flavorful than U.S. produce. Mexican beef—especially in Sonora--is top quality.
AC – From May to October, don’t leave home without it! No fooling.
The Law – Don’t break it or think you won’t get caught. Just as you would
want visitors to respect your laws, have the same respect for Mexico.
Firearms are illegal in Mexico. If you routinely carry firearms in your RV,
for protection or hunting purposes, be sure to remove them and any
ammunition before you leave
home. If you do want to hunt there are outfits that arrange hunting trips
who will make all the arrangements for you. Otherwise-