<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> RVers Guide to Mex Highway 200
NOTE: While this is designated as an ARCHIVE FILE, it is retained despite the date of first publication because it offers information of continuing current interest and/or for its historical perspective. Please be guided accordingly.





By David Eidell 11/21/09

Some Urban Legends die hard, and the supposedly “Dangerous” Pacific Coast highway through the state of Michoacan is one of them. I traveled this highway twice in the last two days, going in one direction for four hours before dawn. This is what I observed:

There is a pair of highway of round-the-clock military inspection points north of Caleta de Campos. The soldier’s barracks are alongside the highway. The checkpoints are separated by many miles.

The army, marines, and federal police establish “rolling” highway inspection points during the daytime. In their quest to combat drugs law enforcement has been combing the entire region on and off the highway Potential criminals are well aware of it.

Rest stops at various roadside tiendas for chats with the owners revealed that there have been no reports or even suggestions of motorists encountering “bandito” problems for años varios (many years). This includes travel day and night. See below what one trucker said.

Ignore postings on other sites that claim the highway to be scary because of steep drop offs down into the ocean. Panoramic views are scarce, and running off the road anywhere in the world would lead to disaster for an RV. This stretch of highway in my opinion for instance registers a .000001 scare magnitude in comparison with the 8.0+ nightmare of California Hwy. 1 north of San Francisco.

New large highway signage has been erected over the last two years. Signed beach access is now clearly marked and is achievable in a standard automobile. Access roads and parking areas are paved. RV’ers should scout routes before committing to establish if there is enough maneuvering room and clearance for a rig.

Road crews are busy with tractor brush cutters and machetes trimming back encroaching shrubbery on highway shoulders. Overhanging trees are being trimmed back to a minimum height clearance of around eighteen feet.

On the northern end of this 225-mile stretch of highway (just south of the state border with Colima) the highway surface is worn and a bit grainy but no potholes. Further down the roadway has been chip sealed and is wonderfully smooth.

Some speed bumps (topes) are well signed, others aren’t. The area around the surfing community of Maruata seems to have a majority of the unmarked speed bumps. When you see a house or roadside restaurant no matter how humble prepare for one or more speed bumps.

We saw horses, mules and burros alongside the highway day and night. We also had three pairs of eyes scouring the highway and shoulders for our four hour nighttime part of the journey. My Dodge K-Car is maneuverable and can stop quickly. An RV rig cannot do the same. Do not drive at night – you cannot afford to chance upon a drunk driver.

Large trucks ply the highway day and night. In the curvy sections beware of them cutting corners.

The northern section of coastal Michoacan is Indian tribal land. Unfortunately drunken Indians like to sleep on the highway at night and youths will gather and gossip on the shoulder in the shade of a tree during the daytime. They seem to ignore passing traffic but read the story below.

Some readers may be familiar with the problems of the now-closed RV Park Buganvillas. The park was located in the northern section of the state of Michoacan on Mex 200. An amiable couple invested a lot of time and money and created what was to become a very promising RV park. According to the owners a bunch of “Drunken Indians” showed up one day wielding pistols and machetes and chased everyone off the property and told them to not return. The couple went on to explain that they had obtained the proper permits; the local Ejido gave their permission, so therefore according to them and their Mexican attorney they had the right to establish an RV Park there. The couple is presently trying to litigate the problem in a Mexican court of law.

Local Mexicans informed me that they are astonished that someone tried to open a business on Indian tribal land. “They don’t want outsiders encroaching on their tribal land” everyone says. The Indians speak Nahuatl, the same language as the Aztecs of old. By the way, “Outsiders” means Mexicans as well. The group of Indians that evicted the hapless owners and their help may have been drunk and they may have been armed, but groups of armed Indians are known as “rurales” and are a tribal police force and not just drunkards or rowdies. Rurales for instance force Indian owned restaurants on tribal land to stop selling alcoholic beverages at 8:00PM. These ragtag indigenous police groups have been administering tribal law on Mexican Indian lands for centuries and are a quasi-legitimate law enforcement entity. The Mexican government tolerates their self-government at least to the point where rival neighboring tribes start having conflicts over land or water rights. The EZLN or Zapatistas by the way are big proponents of Indian self rule and the custom of tribal law and custom enforcement by rurales.

The very occasional reports of a highway “roadblock” on Mex 200 within the tribal area is due to Indians who are protesting to the Mexican government over some real or imagined slight. For instance if the government takes sides and rules in favor of one tribe over another, the losers sometimes stretch a rope across the highway and engage a sit-in protest. This lasts just long enough for the nearby army or marines to arrive. Motorists are ignored, unless of course they are foolish enough to try and run-over protesters.


Truckers prefer to convoy in groups of two or more vehicles

The “leader” has the responsibility of spotting speed bumps, accidents and farm animals on the roadway. Those following need only to watch for brake lights.

If a truck should get a flat or develop mechanical problems, the others will stop and render help or continue on to call a tow truck.

Banditos? He laughed and shook his head.


To those alarmists: who have treasured and relish telling the myth of the dangers of banditos on Mex Hwy 200 in the state of Michoacan.

There are other, better Urban Legends that I promise not to debunk: El Coco (Coconut Head) who is the equivalent of the Boogie Man to Mexican children. Or: La LLarona (the weeper) a wraith who cries out in the middle of the night. If you should follow her, you will be lost forever. Or how about el tesoro de la revoluccion, the buried treasure from the Mexican revolution: Neighboring children told me of such a buried treasure just waiting to be found beneath a house that I was getting ready to rent. Their fantasy refused to be dashed even when I reminded them that the house was built in the 1980’s.