El Rosario is a small town near the Pacific Coast on the Baja Peninsula. It is a historical town and was one of the first missions settled by friars in the Californias. Today El Rosario is a supply town for travelers going south through the desert and onward to the resort communities further south.
Location 360 km’s (220 miles) south of Tijuanna
Climate: Southern California-like. Dry hot summers and warm winters. January has a high of 23C (73F)and a low of 7C (45F) – June has high of 27C (81F) and low of 13 C (55F)
The Baja was largely settle by the Fransican Fathers and in 1772 they were expelled and the Dominicans assumed responsibility for settling the peninsula. Nuestra Senora del Rosario was established in 1774 as their first missions in the Californias. It was moved in 1802 to ensure a closer water supply. It was the first of eight missions to be built to the North.
The friars Christianized the local Indians called the “Cochimi” who called their community “Vinadaco”. You can visit the mission today; drive west at the Mama Espinosa’s turn and then left at the first road. The adobe ruins are in minimal condition. A sign outside the mission reads “1434 Christian Indians registered between 1774 and 1817. These were supported from products of desert, sea, cattle, sheep, goats, and plantings of cereals imported by the Spaniards”.
The mission produced abundant crops and converts but like elsewhere disease ravished the Indian population. Without souls to convert and labor for the fields, in 1832 the mission closed.
El Rosario has two main attractions for the traveler: the Pemex Gas Station and Mama Espinosa’s Restaurant.
The 24 hour Pemex is a natural pit stop for drivers heading south as it is the last “for sure” fuel stop for the next 150 miles or so. The Cativan pumps may be open but it is a dicely gamble. BEST TO FILL UP HERE.
The gas station also offers a great place to gossip and get on the ground information about the road conditions in the desert. It is a long way so make sure you have everything you need. There is a small auto parts store just around the corner in case something needs replacing.
Mama Espinosa is located right at the sharp turn south of the Pemex. A Baja “must try” for first-timers and an “always stop there” for the experienced. Mama got her reputation for lobster burritos from drivers and crews of the Baja 1000 in the 1960’s – long before the transpeninsula highway was completed in 1973.
El Rosario’s primary industry is agriculture with onions being the main crop followed by chillies, potatoes, beans and alfalfa. Fishing is also important with many camps on the Pacific coast to the east.
The town has also become a strategic supply town for travelers before they drive through the desert; a few min-markets, liquor stores, a butcher shops.
Mama Espinosa’s Restaurant
Mission Ruins GPS 30° 2′ 29.00″, -115° 44′ 20.80″
Drive South on Highway 1 360 km’s (220 miles) soth of Tijuanna.