Between Tecate and Mexicali, Highway Mexico 2 winds travelers through a mountainous area with large granite boulders that make for impressive scenery and a dramatic drive. There are a number of lookouts where travelers can pull over to take in the views and snap a few photos of the sweeping vistas. About 45 minutes east of Tecate, right before starting the scenic part of the drive, there’s a small dusty town called La Rumorosa where a few sights and good bites await you.
What to Do:
There are more than 18 rock art sites at El Vallecito (Mexico 2 Km. 72, tel. 686/552-3591, open 8am-5pm Wed.-Sun.), although only five may be visited by the public. Of these, El Diablito, a painting of a small red devil, is the most popular. On the winter solstice, a ray of sunlight hits the painting, and his eyes are said to illuminate. A 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) path takes visitors along a loop walking path to the five sites that are open to the public.
Also of interest in La Rumorosa is Campo Alaska (Mexico 2 Km. 60, 686/552-3591). General Abelardo L. Rodríguez, governor of the state of Baja California, constructed the stone buildings as a House of Government almost 100 years ago. From 1923 to 1929 the Mexicali government offices would move to the site during the months of June to October to escape the summer heat of the city and to enjoy a cooler mountain climate. The buildings were later used as a mental hospital and a tuberculosis hospital until 1955. Today, the historic site functions as a museum related to the history of the region. The museum isn’t always open, so try calling ahead of your visit.
Along the highway, just past the first toll booth is the turn off for the famous Casa de Piedra (Stone House). Originally built as a glamorous house made of stone in the 1950s, it was abandoned until it was rehabilitated in 2015 as a lookout for tourists to visit.
Where to Eat:
If you’re hungry, you can get a great steak or traditional Mexican meal in town at La Cabaña del Abuelo (Carretera Mexicali-Tecate Km. 75, tel. 686/575-0152, www.cabanadelabuelo.com, open 7am-9pm daily). The hearty dishes are served in an inviting mountain cabin atmosphere with friendly and attentive service. For a quick bite, Tacos Lalo (21510 La Rumorosa, tel. 686/575-0002, open 6am-9pm daily) serves delicious tacos al vapor (steamed tacos).
How to Visit:
Be aware that the Mexico 2 is a toll road so you’ll need cash to pay the tolls. You can pay in either dollars or pesos but you cannot mix currencies.
While the inland surrounding areas can be extremely hot in the summer, La Rumorosa remains slightly cooler because of the high elevation. If you’re visiting in winter, be aware that this is one area of the peninsula that can get snow. If you want to get the most out of learning about the history of the region and the El Vallecito cave paintings, contact CAREM in Tecate to arrange a tour guide.