Santa Rosalia is a different kind of seaside Baja town, one that most travelers breeze through on their way north or south. It is built around a copper mine established by the French, so you will see a lot of French influence in the buildings and living style of the people, particularly in the Iglesia de Santa Barbara, an iron church designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel.
The copper mine was closed in 1954, but the remains of mining equipment are scattered around the town giving it an almost ghost town feel (were it not for all the people and new businesses built along the main road in town).
Santa Rosalia is around a one-hour drive from San Ignacio on breathtaking steep curls around the sandstone cliffs along the stunning blue Gulf of California. This is one area you will want to pay attention to the grade of the road, which is not marked.
From the north, you will be going on a mostly steep downhill on your way into Santa Rosalia. The reverse is true on your way back north. Be mindful of your brakes, engine and transmission as you wind your way into Santa Rosalia.
Santa Rosalia itself has a colorful history, first written by Cochimi Indians on the walls and caves of nearby mountains. They lived there for thousands of years fishing the fertile waters and living among the stunning landscape and vegetation.
The second chapter was written by the French when small green copper nuggets were discovered in Santa Rosalia. They planned to start mining for copper in El Boleo. The French shipped tons of construction material, steel, engines, rails and railway cars to the bay from Europe and developed hundreds of miles of tunnels, a railroad, a pier and a smelting factory.
The mined ores were taken to Washington to be refined. In the 1950s, the 60-year-old structure was failing, and production fell drastically. So, El Boleo had to be shut down. In 1954, the mine stopped production, and the French left a fascinating reminder of the riches and loss throughout mining history.
Things to do in Santa Rosalia
Although the town is not a top destination in Baja, there are some interesting things to do in San Rosalia. The primary tourist attractions include the Iglesia de Santa Barbara, traditional authentic French baguettes and pastries and the Museum of Mining Industry.
Tour the Iglesia de Santa Barbara
The Iglesia de Santa Barbara, or Santa Barbara Church, is the highlight of the small seaside town. It was designed by Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the architect of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, in 1880.
Carlos La Frogue acquired the church and individually shipped metal plates from Europe. Then the church was reconstructed in Santa Rosalia in 1897. The beautiful church sits right in the middle of the city and is easily accessible to everyone.
Visit the Museum of Mining History
Most of the factories and industrial facilities were dismantled after the French left Santa Rosalia and were not accessible to the public. But the main mining office of La Boleo has been converted into an industrial museum. It has a great collection of some of the machines with a detailed history of the mining industry of the region and time.
Take the Ferry to the Mainland
Santa Rosalia has a small ferry terminal. You can board for a real adventure to mainland Mexico from Baja. The Ferry leaves on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The journey enables you to experience the stunning blue ocean of Santa Rosalia… that is IF the ferry is operational. This ferry is notorious for not running according to any schedule.
Eat at the Panaderia El Boleo
Panaderia El Boleo is a French bakery in downtown Santa Rosalia. It is quite popular among travelers and residents alike. They serve authentic, delicious French bread, pastries and other bakery items.
Campgrounds in Santa Rosalia
As Santa Rosalia is not a top destination for travelers, there is very little by way of camping in or around town. In fact, there is really only one place that is worth the effort to stay in if you want to spend time in the area.
San Lucas Cove
San Lucas Cove is an affordable campground just 10 minutes away from Santa Rosalia. The beachfront RV park is built near a small restaurant and the store is within walking distance.
There is no electricity and sewage, water is acceptable and the bathrooms and showers are pretty worn out. Further, the campground bay is often full of stingrays, so taking a swim is not a good idea here.
- Address: Ejido san Lucas Rv park san Lucas cove, 23911 Ejido San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico
- Phone Number: +52 615 103 6766
- GPS Coordinates: 27.2191, -112.2146
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