Land Adventures

ATV adventures

Our “odd quad squad” has been enjoying our ATV’s in San Carlos for several years. ATV’ing in San Carlos is a great, informal, fun mode of transportation. You’ll often see a group of ATV’ers taking off around town--- whether it’s a group of locals going exploring, adverturous rv’ers , or with rentals or on a guided tour with "Off the Edge". (link)

Opportunities abound in our area for ATV’ers. We have lots of beautiful and interesting desert ---filled with washes and streambeds, arroyos, panoramic vistas, canyons and waterfalls, various geological formations, a large variety of flora and fauna, as well as several types of birds. There are sand dunes and beaches to explore. Be sure to bring a camera for the numerous photo ops!

Looking for a suggestion? A day ride in San Carlos might start by turning off into the desert at the Bahia fish camp. After the ride along the estuary and thru the hills, people can follow the old runway to the Catch 22 ruins. Head further north and they’ll be a waterfall oasis on the hillside.   Afterwards, we often ride thru the deserted La Manga North fish camp-- then head for a fresh seafood lunch at the restaurant furthest north in La Manga.  (Bring your own beer) And don’t forget some candy to hand out to the curious and friendly kids you'll see. Thirsty? Want to watch an amazing sunset?  It is always fun to stop at the Soggy Peso Bar (down a little on your right as you get back on the pavement).

This is just a start to the many rides you can take around San Carlos. Or you can head north to Rio Colorado or Kino Bay..... (directions)

Or south to Empalme’s beaches or Alamos. (Alamos, Sonora, Mexico) We enjoyed our outing to the caves east of La Pintada. (directions) 


Be sure to have plenty of water when heading out into the desert—and many take a kerchief to wear if dusty, which it usually is! As a caveat, things constantly change in Mexico. Border crossing importation and local policies should be checked for updates.

Enjoy! Tom

PS: Jeeps can go many of these same places. 

Mountain Biking in San Carlos


Nacapule Canyon is a tropical canyon in the desert. It boasts a stream that trickles year round. At times there is even a waterfall. Spectacular rock formations sheild a wonderful ecosystem of Nacapule trees, palm trees and cactus. An excellent place for bird watching. It is an easy hike from the end of the dirt road behind the airport. Take water and wear good hiking shoes. Once you reach the palm trees you can continue up the canyon, climbing over rocks and negotiating your way around downed trees to the top.

Other great hikes: Down to Zorro beach from the top of the Mirador Lookout or out onto the top of San Antonio Point. For the more advanced hiking, follow one of the many trails up to the top of Tetakawi, where you will have magnificent views of the town and ocean. There are geo-caches all over San Carlos. Come and find one!

Mountain Biking
Article by Gary Nebuker

In the spring of 2012, my wife and I were privileged to spend our university sabbatical in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. One of the unexpected perks of this time was the opportunity to log a lot of miles on my mountain bike.

Since 2003 I have been an avid mountain biker. I have been a consistent top finisher in Nebraska masters-level mountain bike competitions. In addition to racing, I have had the privilege of riding some of the finest mountain bike single-track in the Rockies and in the Smokies. 

Although I didn’t know in advance that there was mountain biking in San Carlos, once I found out, I was elated! As in any mountain bike adventure, it is always good to find and befriend the locals. They will fill you in on trail locations and events. I made some friendships with American riders who work and live in the area. Kudos to Becky, Mickey, and Glenn for getting me up to speed on road routes and trails. 

There were two principal trails that I rode to on my bike from my home in San Carlos. In the “Ranchitos” area of San Carlos, I regularly rode the flat and fast 12-Hour course where mountain bike legend Tinker Juarez consistently wins races. This is a great beginner’s trail, yet it has the kind of features to please more advanced riders. 

Between San Carlos and Guaymas there is another amazing single-track trail. Known by locals as “the Estero,” this 10K loop is a hidden gem with plenty of technical challenges. This trail requires some skill and a fairly robust fitness base. Every year the Pista El Soldado mountain bike race is held there. I was so happy when I won the 50+ Category at this venue this past February. 

A weekly training treat was the 1500-foot “Microonda” outside Guaymas. This climb is not for the faint of heart; expect very steep grades in spots. Once you arrive at the top and enjoy the breath-taking views, you eventually have to go back down the mountain. Descending on rugged cobbles is quite a challenge—be careful! Bring an extra set of disc brake pads if you plan to ride this mountain on a regular basis. 

Highly touted by locals, I rode the La Jolla single-track in Hermosillo, a ninety-mile drive from San Carlos. This course has intense elevation gains made possible by a healthy portion of switchbacks. In mid-May I rode this trail in 100-degree desert heat—very challenging with the added semi-technical features of this trail.

There are other choice single-track venues south of San Carlos in Obregon and Navajoa. This will require a permit for your vehicle, but I believe it is worth the money. 

Similar to what we find in the States, there is a small, but deeply committed community of mountain bikers in Sonora. You can read more about the Sonoran MTB scene by checking out the following link (see pp. 118-28). 

This highly recommended article provides helpful descriptions of and directions to Sonoran trails. You may also find more specific info on the Facebook page: “San Carlos Biking.” 

If you do plan to spend expended time in San Carlos with your mountain bike, please note that there are no high-end bike shops within an 85-mile radius. So, bring an appropriate amount of spare parts (e.g., cables, tires, tubes, chains, cassettes, lubricant). Stan’s NoTubes are the way to go in the Sonoran desert, and a beefier more aggressive trail tire is also recommended.