On A Mission From God

Baja’s missions have a dubious history – built by Jesuits and Dominicans intent on bringing salvation, they instead brought death through introduced European diseases. Many missions were abandoned as populations dropped below sustainable levels. Today, however, these beautiful buildings, whether in use or out in the middle of nowhere, make for great photos and fun day trips, and they’re an undeniable part of Baja’s checkered past. You should not need a 4WD to visit any of those listed here, though the roads can be impressively bad (or impassable) at times.

  • Misión Nuestra Señora de Loreto The oldest mission and an impressive monument still in use today.
  • Misión San Borja Out in the middle of nowhere but well worth the drive. Its treasures include a hot spring and a secret tunnel (now walled up). José Gerardo, a descendant of the original preconquest inhabitants, will show you around.
  • Misión San Francisco Javier de Viggé-Biaundó Remote and beautifully preserved, it feels like stepping back in time. The drive here offers awesome vistas and even some cave paintings along the way.
  • Misión Santa Rosalía de Mulegé Extremely photogenic. Don’t miss the view from behind looking out over the palm-edged river.

Resources for further reading include Las Misiones Antiguas, by Edward W Vernon, and www.vivabaja.com/bajamissions; both feature beautiful photos.