Fact and Fiction in La Rumorosa

Some of the guide books refer to it as the Cantú Grade, after an ex governor, but the spectacular mountain road which connects Mexicali to Tecate and Tijuana is known locally as La Rumorosa.

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 The name comes from the whispering winds which blow through the Sierra de Juarez and can spell instant disaster to those who don't drive with due diligence through its twisting path.

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The highway has often been described as Mexico's most dangerous road, and even one of the worst in the world.  These claims are backed up by tabloid tv, who not only talk up the treacherous nature of the road but also the reputation the area has for supernatural phenomena. The ghosts of the road's victims are said to haunt the drivers of today. Exaggerated claims of the number of fatalities further fuel the mythology.

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Certainly in the past the road was more dangerous - it was a two lane highway until the 1980s, and it is said that everyone over a certain age in the wider area knows of someone who lost their life in an accident here. The present road still winds an elaborate path in both directions. There are plenty of warnings via signage advising how best to safely negotiate the twists and turns. A glance at the lumps of twisted metal abandoned far below is also a sobering reminder of how not to drive safely. There are many points where drivers can pull over and admire the views and also raise the alarm when necessary.

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This dramatic location has been used by filmmakers, perhaps most famously for the final chase scene in the James Bond film "Licence to Kill", and recently BBC Top Gear decided this would be the most appropriate place to test drive Mexico's new sports car the Mastretta.

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La Rumorosa is also the name of the nearby town of 2,000 inhabitants, a place where city dwellers head for clean cool air, especially in the summer months. The town is famous in the area for tacos and pan dulce, which compares well to the French bakery in Santa Rosalía hundreds of miles south. Nearby is Vallecitos, the northernmost of the peninsula's cave painting sites, and there's also a regional museum at Campo Alaska.

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