The Vizcaíno Desert, named for the
Spanish admiral, Sebastián Vizcaíno,
who sailed its shores in 1602, stretches across central Baja
from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortez. This is the most
desolate region in Baja, thousands of square miles where rain
is so scarce that vegetation has learned to get its moisture
from the fogs that blow in from the Pacific. Rocky mesas,
volcanic cinder cones, and broad plains are scattered with
stands of yucca, agave, ocotillo, cirio and cactus.
Snakes, lizards, rodents and birds live here,
as do small herds of rare desert pronghorn and bighorn sheep.
In the eastern desert, beyond the reach of the fog, life is
stunted, scorched and sparse. Guerrero Negro, on the Pacific,
and San Ignacio, on the Cortez side of the desert, are the
only towns for a hundred miles large enough to have reliable
stocks of groceries and gasoline. Guerrero Negro has several
hotels, San Ignacio only two.