|We had an easy drive from Los Mochis to El Fuerte, approximately 45 miles inland, on a recently resurfaced 2-lane divided road that is in good condition (now!) with the exception of a five mile stretch. We had been warned by others who have taken this route in the past, that it was the "drive from hell"!
El Fuerte (the fort), an old colonial town, was founded by the Spaniards in 1564 as a way station along the Camino Real and has its share of beautiful architecture, much in the restoration process. It is a bustling supply center for the surrounding agricultural area and the gateway for a trip by train to the Copper Canyon or Barrancas del Cobre.
We arrived early afternoon for a 2-night stay at the Hotel Bugambilias which has grounds that are spacious and secure for RV parking with a few 15-amp electrical outlets. There was a big German tour bus staying there as well as a few RVs, all going on the Copper Canyon train.
A drive into town was in order with a walk around the zocalo (main plaza), a stop for ice cream and lots of picture taking. The town is situated on the Rio Fuerte, one of the largest in Mexico, originating in the Sierra Madre and flowing into the Sea of Cortes. Waters of the river, controlled in part by the Hidalgo Dam, are used extensively for irrigation purposes.
We had read in Church's "Traveler's Guide to Mexican Camping" that plans were in the works to improve an old back road section of the "Camino Real" from El Fuerte north approx. 60 miles (according to our calculations) to the beautiful, old colonial town of Alamos. This kind of vague info is dangerous for jeep owners as we just had to find this road.
We started out early the next day with a stop at the Hidalgo Dam and Reservoir as it appeared to be in the general direction we were seeking. The dam and river are very impressive, but we made several "dead-end" attempts at finding the correct back road. After driving about 3 hours on a very rough dirt track, and passing a couple of "settlements" of 50 habitantes, chickens and dogs, we came upon a small primary school with kids on a break. I grabbed our Guia Roji road map and attempted, in very poor Spanish, to locate our current whereabouts. A couple of teachers came over and it was determined by the names of local villages where in fact we were and that we were on the right road for Alamos but judging from the short distance we had driven in 3 hours since leaving the dam, we would likely not make it to Alamos and return in one day. They did assure us that the road would improve the closer we got! We drove a bit further, to the Sinaloa/Sonora state line, barely discernible and surely unguarded and no vegetable or fruit inspections, before turning back to get home before dark!
El Fuerte is the only town we have stayed in thus far that provided us with absolutely no cell phone coverage or internet options. Before leaving AZ we contacted Verizon and signed on for their Mexico coverage for an additional $15 per month, and it has been reliable accept here. Ditto the internet where wifi has been provided by the RV park or through an unsecured wireless network within range of our antenna. And we've lived perfectly well with no TV but no internet.....Such is life!