During August, heavy rainstorms hit the desert region north of the Ensenada Road and the desert is turning green with new growth. As you drive between Mexicali and San Felipe, you will see areas where rivers of water still remain by the side of the road and many of the boundary markers have collapsed because of erosion. The road, however, is in excellent condition. Maintenance has been completed on the Laguna Salada section and new asphalt coatings applied in several areas.
The time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving tends to be a period of light traffic by passenger vehicles with flows in either direction being only around 30 vehicles/hour in either direction on weekdays. The flow increases to around 100 vehicles/hour on weekends but driving is easy and safe under these conditions.
The long abandoned “hospitality center” at the junction with the Ensenada Road is essentially complete and it will be a welcome stop for visitors seeking comfort stations when it eventually opens later this year (or next?). Old timers will remember the beautiful courtyard in the center of the building where one could enjoy a cold beer before resuming the trip to San Felipe.
The condition of the “facilities” available at La Ventana, the only other rest stop on the highway, have deteriorated significantly over the past year and many travelers have preferred to take their chances in the roadside bushes.
Update 11 September 2014
New cracks have appeared in the road surface of the Ensenada Scenic toll road and the re-opening of the highway to the public, mentioned below, has been delayed until December to make a better evaluation of the safety of the construction.
For those visitors who enjoy coming south from San Diego via Ensenada, the news is that the scenic toll road will re-open “around 15 September”. Work has been underway to stabilize the highway at km 95 since the beginning of the year when there was a geologic slip of the road base into the sea as a result of heavy rains and seismic activity. Over the summer, disquieting cracks have been noticed in adjacent areas and reported by Ensenada.net (example shown below) but there is extreme pressure to get the road back in service as soon as possible because of the huge impact it has caused in loss of tourist business to Ensenada and points south.