Puerto Penasco-Rocky Point Mexico

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Puerto Penasco - Rocky Point Mexico Travel Guide

This page is your basic planning guide and driving direction for your trip to Rocky Point Mexico. Traveling to Rocky Point Mexico is easy by private auto or RV but sometimes we just need someone to show us what to do and what documents we need. What are you waiting for? Visit today!

Puerto Penasco, or Rocky Point, is just 63 miles south of the border crossing at Lukeville, AZ and Sonoyta, Sonora, Mexico. Because of its location inside the border free-trade zone, no special vehicle registration or tourist cards are required to visit Puerto Penasco. Mexican auto insurance is a must and you can order your policy right here.  Border crossing hours are 6AM to Midnight, 7 days a week.

Spanish language: While knowledge of the Spanish language is not essential, some ability to speak and understand the language will add to your travel enjoyment.

Driving Direction:

From Tucson and Points East:
From I-10 West, take exit #263 (Kino Parkway) and turn left on Ajo Way (Arizona Hwy 86).  Take AZ 86 west through Sells, AZ to Why, AZ (116 miles) and turn south on Arizona 85.  Follow AZ 85 south through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (28 miles) to Lukeville, AZ.  

From Phoenix and Points North:
Follow I-10 West towards Los Angeles.  Take exit #112 at Buckeye, AZ and follow AZ 85 south through Gila Bend, Ajo and Why, AZ to Lukeville (117 miles).

From Los Angeles:
Follow I-10 East through Blythe, AZ (225 miles) and take exit #112 at Buckeye, AZ (112 miles).  Follow AZ 85 south through Gila Bend, Ajo and Why, AZ to Lukeville (117 miles).

From San Diego:
Follow I-8 East through Yuma, AZ (172 miles) to Gila Bend (115 miles) and take exit #115/116 to AZ 85 south through Ajo and Why, AZ to Lukeville (80 miles).

Mileage Table: Puerto Penasco - Rocky Point Mexico to & from:

Lukeville, AZ 64
Gila Bend, AZ 144
Buckeye, AZ 181
Phoenix, AZ 214
Tucson, AZ 208
Flagstaff, AZ 352
Sierra Vista, AZ  283
San Diego, CA 431
Los Angeles, CA 518

Basic Documents: 

Each traveler must have proof of citizenship, such as a passport (preferred), passport card or birth certificate for those under 16.

To bring your automobile into Mexico, you must have the  registration and a valid US drivers license. You should have Mexican Insurance on your automobile as your US insurance is NOT VALID in Mexico. You can obtain insurance online here and can buy it for a specified time or on an annual basis if you expect to travel into Mexico frequently. See the insurance page for more information. 

If you plan to travel further into Mexico after visiting Puerto Penasco, you can travel as far south as the San Carlos/Guaymas/Empalme area without obtaining a vehicle permit. If you plan to travel even further into Mexico, you will need to obtain a sticker for the vehicle which is good for 6 months and is valid in other areas of Mexico. You will need a credit card to post a bond of about $28 to guarantee you will not sell the car in Mexico. Note: If you use cash, the bond is over $200. Moral is use a credit card! See our detailed paperwork section below on this page.

Traveling with pets.  If your pet is going on the trip with you, visit your veterinarian and get the animal a checkup and health certificate before you go.  Take the rabies certificate for the animal with you as well.  Be very conscious of temperature conditions and insure your animal has sufficient water and protection from heat, especially during the summer months.  

Marriage in Mexico.  Marriage in Mexico is a civil process conducted by an officer or judge of the Civil Registry.  A church marriage alone is not legally valid in Mexico.  To be married by the Civil Registry requires advance planning to complete the application process.  Details about the process for US citizens wanting to marry in Mexico can be found at the web site of the Embassy of Mexico to the US by clicking here.  For Canadian citizens, click here for similar information provided by the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City.

Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad

U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs

If an American citizen becomes seriously ill or injured abroad, a U. S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends. If necessary, a consular officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the United States. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler.

Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United States, REMEMBER to carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 and up, depending on your location and medical condition.


To facilitate identification in case of an accident, complete the information page on the inside of your passport providing the name, address and telephone number of someone to be contacted in an emergency.

A traveler going abroad with any preexisting medical problems should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs. Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Travelers should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics.

U.S. embassies and consulates abroad maintain lists of hospitals and physicians. Major credit card companies also can provide the names of local doctors and hospitals abroad.

Weapons: We'll say this more than once, but DO NOT take any type of firearm or ammunition into Mexico. If you hunt or shoot sporting clays or carry firearms or ammunition in your vehicle for any reason, check it carefully to make sure you did not leave these items in the vehicle. If caught in Mexico with these items in your possession the Mexican authorities will toss you in jail and forget where the key is! They won't care if it was accidental or otherwise-so check the vehicle.

Services: Fuel including unleaded or diesel is available at numerous service stations along the route. You can buy any brand you like as long as it's PEMEX, the Mexican National Oil Company. These are full service so don't pump your own. They take pesos or dollars. There is usually a youngster around to clean your windshield and a small gratuity of 25-50 cents is in order. Restrooms (banos) are normally available.

Another neat feature about this route are the Green Angel trucks. These are mobile motorist aid units who will stop and assist if you do have a breakdown. Their mission is to perform minor repairs to get you back on the road. The best way not to meet them is to have the vehicle serviced before you cross the border. But it's nice to know they are there.

Speed Limits: Observe the speed limit signs, which are in kilometers per hour. Pay particular attention in built up areas as it is not uncommon to have pedestrians or animals along the right of way. Driving at night is generally not recommended as domestic animals may wander off the open range and onto the highway. El Toro (the bull) is neat, until you wrap a ton of steer around your front end. Stick to the daylight hours for highway travel. And as in the US, please don't drink and drive. And please don't litter.

Some common signs and their meanings:

  • Peligrosa: Danger (They really mean it too)

  • Curva: Curve

  • Poblado Proxima: Population ahead

  • Llanteros: Tire Repair Shop

  • Izquierda: Left

  • Derecha: Right

  • Alto: Stop

  • Cuotas: Toll

  • Caseta:  Toll Booth

  • Topes:  Speed Bumps (big ones!!)

Do's & Don'ts


  • Obey traffic laws and observe speed limits.

  • Try and learn a bit of Spanish and use it-the Mexican people will respect you for trying.

  • Remember that you are a guest in their country.

  • Carry a supply of water in your vehicle for both you and the vehicle.

  • Sample the local cuisine-seafood is especially wonderful and the beef is some of the best anywhere.

  • Take precaution against over exposure to the sun-it can get HOT in Mexico.

  • Take medications with you, particularly for stomach problems.

  • Watch for disabled vehicle warning signs, livestock and construction zones. These can appear very suddenly.

  • Have a great time!


  • Drink & Drive

  • Bring firearms or ammunition to Mexico

  • Be an ugly Norte Americano. Show the proper respect for your hosts.

  • Attempt to conduct business under a tourist visa-you may NOT do so.

  • Drink the water from the tap. In many places it is safe, but why take the chance on spoiling your trip with Montezuma's Revenge?  Buy and use bottled water.

  • Drive at night unless an absolute necessity.

  • Try to bring fruits, vegetables or pork products back into the USA. Filleted fish is OK.


The paperwork requirements to visit Mexico beyond the frontier zone if you plan to travel on into Mexico from Rocky Point are not terribly hard to deal with, but do require a bit of advanced planning.

To travel in Mexico beyond the frontier zone and visit San Carlos, for example requires a Mexican Tourist Card or visa. Tourist cards or visas are good for 6 months. No fee tourist cards are now available for visits of 7 days or less. If you are staying longer than 7 days the fee must be paid.

To get one you must have the following:

  • A valid passport or an original or notarized birth certificate.

  • A valid picture ID with address shown.

  • A minor traveling with one parent will need written permission from the other parent.

There is a $21/person visitors fee which must be paid at any Mexican bank.  Actual cost will vary slightly depending on the currency exchange rate.

Once you have your tourist card from the Migracion (Mexican Immigration), you can obtain the necessary permit for your vehicle. If your do not plan to travel south of the San Carlos/Guaymas/Empalme area, you do not need to register the vehicle. For those whose travel plans include traveling beyond this point, have the following and bring copies of each to provide the issuing authorities:

  • The Title and a copy

  • Registration and a copy

  • Your Drivers License and a copy.

  • A major Credit Card

  • Your tourist card/visa

You will post a bond of about $28 on the vehicle with the credit card. The purpose is to verify that you will not sell the vehicle in Mexico. This is non-refundable. If you plan to use cash, the price goes up to over $200 so use a credit card. The vehicle agency is the Banjercita, the Bank of the Armed Forces and your credit card is quite safe here.

These bonded permits are good for multiple entrances and for six months. If you won't be back in six months, turn them in upon leaving the country. They can get quite testy if you do not.

If you plan to travel no farther than the San Carlos/Guaymas/Empalme area within the State of Sonora, you no longer need a permit for your vehicle, trailer, boat, etc. You are required to have the same documents as for the regular permit, but do not to get the permit. Additional questions regarding the Only Sonora program can be answered by calling 1-800-4-SONORA (800-476-6672).

If you plan to bring a boat and trailer, ATV, PWC or other toy along, have all the documents and copies of the documents for these as well. Boats are now documented for up to 10 years. It's a different form than for motor vehicles. No bond is required on the boat.

You may be asked to pay duty on certain items, including computers. In some instances, very expensive new big game fishing tackle may also be taxed. Don't try to hide it but be prepared. And one more time: NO FIREARMS OR AMMUNITION, including shell casings. If they catch you with any of it, you are looking at 5 YEARS in Mexican prison.  Check your vehicle for any of this and leave it home.

For additional information, see the web site of the Embassy of Mexico at http://www.visitmexico.com and the web site at Mexico Adventures for retirement and general travel information.