We used to love going down to Baja but it seemed like it was getting increasingly unsafe. If you've been there recently, how is the atmosphere (safety-wise, police, banditos, etc.)?
Safety-wise, a Jeep is a high-profile vehicle that brings a lot of attention. Some insurance companies do not insure certain Jeeps (Rubicons). When I go out with friends and leave the Jeep behind, it is either parked at the friends house (behind a gate), or in covered parking at the "No-Tels" which attempt to be inconspicuous for their clients.
When I host runs, typically the one-day runs start early, and end before dusk. Campouts are with the vehicles, and I have not had any issues.
Insurance must be purchased - I had a driver on one of my runs get into a DUI, clown the Officers, almost go to Jail, but he paid everyone off - ~$200 USD, and his brother towed his Toyota pickup back across the border, but it was a total loss due to the impact with the school bus.
Most runs are no problem, though. I don't allow drinking & driving for obvious reasons, but one driver sneaked a bottle in their rig and get into trouble. In March of this year, we went to Wal-Mart and had Sushi for brunch - no problems with our vehicles. Here are a few pics of what things looked like.
Cañon Diablo - November 2011
Laguna Salada - March 2013
Mexicali - March 2013 at MARISCOS EL SONORENSE
Rio Hardy - March 2013
Luis - Tijuana Mechanic installing BL and MML
$25 Alignment job (Playas de Tijuana)
Mexicali - April 2013
My wife LOVES going to Mexico
Tomb Raider #815 - 2003 1/2 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon w/4" Pro Comp/Metal Cloak dbl adj arms, Pro-Comp MX-6, Daystar BL, K&N FIPK II w/Air Raid, ViAir Extreme OBA, Currie Steering, Black Rock D909s, 35" BFG KM2 -- BUILT FOR BAJA 4" 33" to 35"
Wow, that trip looks awesome. What’s the procedure for driving around in Baja? I know you need Mexican insurance, and possibly a vehicle permit, right?
Is Baja safe for a rookie? I want to go run some trails and camp out on the beach, but I have never taken a vehicle down there, and haven’t been to mexico in prob 10 years
Baja is safe the farther south you go from the border region. Baja Nomad - Taking You Back to Baja! has lots of information about current conditions. Drive safely, make sure you have your insurance for your vehicle, and you'll be fine. Mainland Mexico requires vehicle permits when you leave the border region. My friends Ed and Michelle completed a round trip down into Southern Mexico and back in their Fullsize pickup/camper. Here is their blog: Ed and Michelle | Michelle Wulfe | Travel Blog
I sometimes post runs to Baja on justruns.com - Later this year, I might post a run along the Pole Line Road if there is enough interest in going.
Here is a quick video of the Pole Line Road and info on the Laguna Salada that I made: