When researching Baja, we heard that in some places it would snow. This blew my mind as when I envisioned Baja I thought of warm desert, and snow was the last thing I would associate with Baja. This obviously intrigued me and I had to find out more. Sierra de San Pedro Mártir is a long mountain range that extends from Southern California, down the Baja Peninsula and into Baja Sur. The highest peak is Cerro de la Encantada (Enchanted Mountain), at 10,157 ft elevation.
I wanted to wait to explore the area when there was snow on the ground, but my curiosity got the better of me and off we were to explore, with a few of our new Baja friends.
On the way up the mountain we stopped at Meling Ranch, which is still a working cattle ranch that includes 10,000 acres of land for the cattle to graze. There are several rooms for rent, all with pot-bellied stoves inside. The landscaping is charming with green grass, flower beds, antique ranch equipment, and a beautiful little chapel. I could have explored this property for hours, but we needed to get on the road and keep heading up the mountain.
When we reached the entrance to the park, we paid our small fee and spoke with the ranger who told us about the California Condors how they were re-introduced into the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir in 1987, the first time seen in this area since 1937. He said that there were currently were 59 condors in the area.
Our goal was to make it up to the top of the mountain where the National Astronomical Observatory of Mexico was located and also home to Mexico’s largest optical telescope, with a diameter of 2.2 meters, and a weight of 40 tons total. We were told that on a clear day you could see the Sea of Cortez to the East and the Pacific Ocean to the West.
By the time we reached the top, the observatory was closed but the day was getting short and we needed to turn around and make the 3+ hour drive back home. It was such a wonderful day with the fresh mountain air, the smell of pine trees, and seeing the vivid colors of the quaking aspen.