El Rosario Mexico
El Rosario is a small town on the Pacific coast, lying 61 km south of San Quintin in the state of Baja California, Mexico.
The town has long been well-known among paleontologists for its abundant sites for dinosaur bones and ammonites findings. Many ammonites (a type of shell) are greater than 100 million years old, having gone extinct about the same time as the dinosaurs.
However, as tourism goes, El Rosario is mostly famous for Mama Espinoza’s restaurant and its legendary owner.
As recent as the 1960’s, El Rosario (The Rosary) with its primitive dirt roads, was thought of as the end of the line for travelers heading south on the Baja Peninsula. Even the mail and weekly bus services from Ensenada went no further south than Rosario.
But two things occurred that began to change El Rosario’s image. The first event occurred in 1967 when Mama Espinoza’s restaurant became a check-point in the famous Baja 1000 off-road race. Of course, Mama Espinoza, who had long been charming and serving her delicious lobster tacos and burritos out of her home to the ten travelers that had passed through the town during the previous 30 years, became an instant hit with the racers. The racers raved to their friends back in the US and people began to make the rugged trip to El Rosario just to see Mama Espinoza and eat at her restaurant.
The second town-altering event was when the Trans Peninsular Highway (Highway 1) was completed in 1973. El Rosario was no longer the end of the line, but the beginning, because the new highway that spanned the interior mountains and desert of the peninsula all the way down to Cabos San Lucas, began here. El Rosario had found its place in the sun.
That mostly means that Mama Espinoza’s had found her place on the tourist route. It wasn’t long before Mama Espinoza (aka Ana Grosso Pena who married Heraclio Espinoza) began to add other attractions to the town. Next door to the restaurant is a family museum with many photographs of off-road motorcycle drivers, as well as the renowned Baja 1000 off-road racers, who began sending them to her after the initial race in 1967, and have continued to the present day.
Currently, the restaurant is managed by Ana’s daughter, Elva Espinoza Grosso (Rolly), as she is now over 100 years old. Still, you will most likely see her in the restaurant she made famous – eating a lobster burrito and sipping a glass of wine.
El Rosario is the place where travelers stop to top off the gas tank before heading south (the last Pemex station for about 150 miles is located here), eat a meal of Mama Espinoza’s famous Lobster Burrito, and tour the museum. However for those wishing to spend some time in this hospitable rustic town, there are some tours that someone at Mama’s can connect you with. And you can spend the night in one of El Rosario’s four hotels, the B&B, a nearby RV park, or at a fishing camp.
Other interesting things to do in El Rosario include:
Tour the 18th century missions of Rosario de Arriba, Rosario de Abajo, and Dominica de Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Rosario de Viñadac. It was in El Rosario that in 1774 the Dominican Friars founded their first mission, after which they established eight additional missions north of El Rosario between 1774 and 1821.
Join a guided fishing excursion. The area is known for its near-record catches of the Calico Bass, but there is an abundance of White Sea Bass, Halibut & Ling Cod here as well. The fishing off Punta Baja is particularly good, but a guide is recommended.
Take an exciting quad bike tour through the sand dunes.
Take a trip to north of El Rosario to La Lobera to see some beautiful Seal Caves; while you’re there visit the Abalone Research Center to view a hatchery.
Visit El Rosario’s pretty Durango Cathedral.
Spend a day at Bocana Beach. The beach is located about 5 miles west of El Rosario, but the trip over the sand dunes is best taken on off-road bikes or recreational vehicles.
Here’s a different combination, but a short distance from El Rosario is Punta Baja, a well-known surf break and fish camp. Local fishermen here will sometimes rent their boats out for a fishing expedition, and you can catch some great surf breaks.
It should be noted that if you travel south of Punta Baja, the coastal road is pretty rough, but your reward is more surf breaks, good wind-surfing areas, some great camping sites, and wide-open spaces for off-road motorcycles and ATV's.
There is a lot to do here, besides eat at Mama Espinoza’s, although you’ll, of course, definitely want to do that. By the way, there are other restaurants to choose from, including a number of taco stands and even a hot dog stand along Highway 1.