Words and photos by Darcie Gray
Situated between the east cape and the Pacific Ocean in Baja California Sur is a sanctuary that, in contrast to the stark desert, is a perfect oasis to escape the dry heat. Baja has become a second home for me – a winter escape from the snow in Teton Valley, Idaho. Void of rain during these months, the southeast corner of Baja is a dry landscape where cactus and other desert-dwelling plants hold on to their reserves of water until the rainy season comes again.
Only a short drive from Baja’s HWY 1, the city of Santiago greets you with a sweeping oasis full of palm trees and standing freshwater pools. You almost don’t realize how unique the area is until you see it in real life for yourself. There, in the middle of the desert, standing water and lush plants seem almost like a mirage – a sight for longing eyes seeking refuge from the blazing sun.
As you wind through backcountry roads, you make your way towards the base of the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range. Rancho Ecológico Sol de Mayo is a quiet, off the grid cabin retreat nestled at the base of Cañón de la Zorra. With no electricity, this candlelit sanctuary is the perfect place to take respite from the outside world and enjoy the experience offered by the Sierra de la Lagunas.
Shortly after starting in on the adventure, hikers will quickly realize that they are in for much more of a treat than they might have thought. The Sierra de la Laguna mountain range is a unique biosphere reserve and host to many plant and wildlife species endemic to the area.
The trail zig-zags along and veers up the sides of a deep arroyo with cascading waterfalls and pools to swim in. Tip-toeing across boulders midstream allows you to travel deeper through the arroyo.
The true gem of Cañón de la Zorra is a breathtaking waterfall, which is situated early on in the hike. Rising mid-day temps always manage to shift your focus to the return hike and a second passing of the falls. Very few experiences are so refreshing – swimming under the falls is a perfect way to cool down after a hike in the midday heat. I recommend toting along an Ultralight Packable Camp Chair – you’ll want to spend hours soaking it all in before returning to town.