Yuma- Mexico, Hiking and Prison


This is our first trip to Yuma, Arizona.  In our 2 years of traveling in the west we have heard lots of people talk about going to Yuma, so we figured we would stop for a few nights on our way to Tucson.  Our first campsite is actually in Winterhaven, CA right on the border with Arizona.  One important thing to know if you are staying here is that it is on “Arizona time” as is Los Algodones, Mexico.

The first thing we had planned was a trip to Mexico.  Everyone who talks about Yuma talks about crossing over to Los Algodones, Mexico.  The attraction to this area of Mexico is inexpensive dental work, prescription eyeglasses and prescription medications. Our plan was to get dental cleanings and a new pair of prescription sunglasses.

We started our day off early by dropping Gizmo off at Uptown Pet Spa in Yuma.  We then headed to the Quechan Parking Lot (actually in California).  It costs $6 to park your car right at the border crossing.  Once you are parked you simply walk across the border to Mexico.  This is not Cancun or Playa Del Carmen, this location is really all about dental work, eyeglasses and pharmacies.  The first thing you will see as you cross the border is the Purple Pharmacy.  There are signs out everywhere letting you know the price on commonly prescribed medications.img_5828  You will be approached by many friendly locals offering to help you find a dentist or get glasses.  We had done our research ahead of time and had made an appointment for dental cleanings, although this is not necessary.  We had a fellow camper highly recommend Dr. Marquez as she had been using this office for years with good success.  We had about 1-hour before our cleanings, and this was enough time to get a pair of prescription eyeglasses started.  The cost for an eye exam and single vision lenses is about $60.  I heard them quote someone $100 for progressive, transition lenses.  They will take checks or cash as payment.  I was told the glasses would be ready in 2-hours but they were actually done within the hour.  Our next stop was the dentists.  It was about 1-1 1/2 blocks from the crossing and is located “in the alley”.  We did not have a map but the locals were very helpful in pointing us towards the office.  The cost of our cleanings (without x-rays) was $20 each.  We had our cleanings done at the same time.  John had his cleaned by the dentist and mine were cleaned by the hygienist.  They both spoke excellent English as did the office staff.  The cleanings took about 40 minutes and were comparable to what you would have done in the U.S.

We were done with our cleanings and had new glasses by 10AM.  The total was just $100.  We still had time for some shopping and lunch before we needed to get Gizmo.  The streets are lined with vendors selling typical Mexican souvenirs.


One of the local vendors- we found everyone very friendly and not as “pushy” as in other areas of Mexico

I particularly liked the stained glass they were selling in many of the shops.  I didn’t stop to ask the price because there is no room in the RV.  That’s another way traveling in an RV saves you money.  We held off until 11am to have lunch, since you cannot buy alcohol in the stores or restaurants until that time.  We found a cute little restaurant selling $1 tacos and $2 bottles of beer.


Safer to drink beer than water :).  Although they say you are OK to drink it here.  

They even had live music.  We had 2 rounds of beer and several tacos for $13.


Check out my new prescription sunglasses

We had heard that you want to be in line to cross back over the border by 1pm.  We arrived at the crossing at noon and the line already wrapped out around the building and down the street.


It was about 80 degrees on the day we came here- This can be a long hot line!  Vendors are selling water along the way.  

February is peak snowbird season in Yuma, keep this in mind if you are planning a trip to Mexico.  It took us about 1-hour to get back into the U.S.


The next two days we were pretty much confined to the RV.  One day it was due to wind that exceed 40 MPH and whipped up all the desert sand.  The next day it was due to rain, we probably received upwards of 2 inches in 24-hours.  We hear San Diego saw even more. I am sure the California drought will be over by the end of this winter.

We were ready to get out of the RV today and get some exercise.  There is not a ton of mountain hiking in this area but we had heard about Telegraph Pass from another RVer.


Ocotillo leafed out and blooming.  You can see our destination in the background

This is a great hike that takes you up over 1550 feet.   The hike starts out relatively flat for the first 1.5 miles until you reach the “gate” and start up the paved path to the summit.


This is SO much steeper than it looks

This last portion is where most of  your elevation will be gained.  This hike is completely without shade so do not attempt it on a hot day.


On top of Telegraph Pass- Lori taking pictures of the storm that plagued us for 2 days that is now headed east.  

The top of the mountain is covered with communication towers but it doesn’t interfere with the great views across Yuma and into Mexico.  img_8907


Gizmo was “dog tired” after this hike and ready to return to the RV for a well deserved nap.  We took advantage of this and headed back out to see the Yuma Territorial Prison.  This is a state historical park and it is not dog friendly.  The cost to enter the park is $6 per person this includes the opportunity to take a guided tour or a self guided tour.  There is a museum and you can walk through the prison area to see the conditions these prisoners lived in. img_8991 This location operated as a prison for 33 years starting in  1876.  It housed over 3000 criminals during that time period including 29 women.  You get a feeling for the severe conditions these prisoners endured during their time here. img_8998  In 1910 the Yuma high school occupied the former prison for 4 years while their school was rebuilt after a fire.  The Yuma  sports teams are still called the Yuma Crims (short for criminals).  We had a great time learning the history of the prison and posing for pictures.  Who can resist a good mug shot?img_8978  The guard tower offers a great viewpoint across the wetlands and helped us discover our adventure for tomorrow, biking the paved bike path.

About gizmogoeswest

I just "pre-tired" from my job of over 30 years as a nurse. John, my husband and Gizmo and Sierra our Shih Tzus are embarking on our 3rd cross country RV adventure. We are searching for awesome dog friendly hikes and adventures
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