Baja is a jagged finger of mountains and desert off mainland Mexico which sits along the San Andreas fault. Baja California is isolated on the west by the Pacific Ocean, and on the east by the Sea of Cortez, whose blue waters fill the deep chasm between Baja and the rest of Mexico.
The Trans-Peninsula Highway (1,000 miles of hard road - mostly 2 lane blacktop) is the lifeline of the Baja California Peninsula. This road stretches from the U.S. border at Tijuana, to Cabo San Lucas and Land's End. The highway was finished in 1973, and for the first time, tourists drove cars and RV's the whole length of the peninsula.
The highway is narrow, at times barely wide enough for two trucks to pass. Often lacking shoulders, guardrails and bridges, striping and roadsigns, blocked by livestock or pockmarked by treacherous potholes, the highway can be as dangerous as it is beautiful.
Those who live on its shores still call the "sea" by the name of the conquistador who "discovered" it. The Sea of Cortez holds the most biologically productive (and some of the deepest) ocean on the planet, containing more endemic species than any other body of water.
It's warm currents sweep down the east side of the peninsula, and collide with the open Pacific's cooler flow where Baja's bony fingertip pokes into the northern tropics.
There are more kinds of cactus here than anywhere else in the world, and most are unique to this area alone. Baja's isolation and geology protect ecosystems that harbor hundreds of plant and animal species found nowhere else on Earth.
Resting at the tip of the Baja Peninsula are the sparkling resorts of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, known as "the capes" or Los Cabos (lows-KAH-bows) in Spanish. Due to improved roads and air access, these resorts have become some of Mexico's most popular tourist destinations.