Driving the Mazatlán-Durango Cuota

I left home around 9:30 on Thursday, with my ETA in Durango being about 2:30 with the one hour time change. The Road out of Isla took me 28 minutes, but that’s only because I was taking my time. It was in surprisingly good shape!

I stopped for fuel in Villa Union, where there was also, very conveniently, an Oxxo (coffee) and a Panamá (goodies for the road)! I started on Mex 40D (cuota) at about 10:30.

To my surprise, the brand new road was in terrible shape and huge sections were under construction. It was very slow and tedious going. I didn’t take a lot of pictures because there weren’t many places to stop, including on the Guinness Record-holding Baluarte Bridge, which wound up being very underwhelming from the point of view of driving over it. There are tons of spectacular photos of it on the web showing it off from better vantage points than I ever had!

The drive was very, very, very scenic:



I had plenty of time to admire the scenery:


I liked how this tunnel is open to the world:


Sometimes, I felt like I was on top of the world:


I did not like this super, super, super long tunnel with lots of glaring lights. I drove it almost blind:


A miniature version of the Baluarte Bridge:


Here, you can see the tunnel with windows in it:


Coming to the Baluarte Bridge. Lots of signs saying no stopping, no parking!





At the end of it, I crossed over into the state of Durango. Another state for my visited Mexican states map!


Welcome to the state of Durango!


Weather conditions were perfect, increasingly cool as well as overcast, so I wasn’t baking in my truck:


Coming into the city of Durango, there was a long downhill stretch. You can see a red stripe in the picture above. It leads to a runaway lane:


First glimpse of the city of Durango!


Stopped at a rest area just before the final toll booth and was amused by the bathroom door signage:


Made it to Durango!


Considering what a disaster the road is, quality-wise, even all the feats of engineering in the form of tunnels and bridges did not make the $500 I spent in tolls seem reasonable for how tedious this road was to drive. I looked forward to possibly revising that opinion on the road back!

Unlike Mazatlán, Durango believes in street signage, so with the help of my GPS, I found my hotel without a single wrong turn. The parking beside it wasn’t attached to the hotel, though, so I took some street parking to go check in and find out where to stash my truck. When I came back, I had a warning on my windshield that I was in a pay parking zone (metres) and would get a ticket if I didn’t move ASAP. That’s when I knew for sure I was in a very different world from Mazatlán, but more on that later. First, let’s get settled in the hotel!

3 thoughts on “Driving the Mazatlán-Durango Cuota

  1. We took the free road last January and were so happy that we did. It was our second time doing it and this time there was less traffic because of the toll road being open. There were also more places to pull over for fantastic views. We had also heard from many people that the toll road was in bad shape, including Chris and Juan who had only just taken it in last December on their way to the Isla.


    • Read your post about that trip. 🙂 I had a lot of traffic compared to your trip, but I think that’s because of the cuoata being in such terrible shape and there being so much construction!

  2. Hola Rae!

    Thanks for the photos. I’ve long wanted to drive that route, and may yet some day. I’m dying to see the Baluarte bridge, and of course driving through the Mexican mountains is always a wonderful experience. But I totally get your reaction to the tolls. I had a similar sentiment when driving 180 on the coast of Veracruz. The I spent hundreds of pesos in tolls for the “pleasure” of driving on a rutted, patched, rough pavement for hundreds of miles.

    In general, Mexican highway tolls are extortionate, at least compared to the US. When I did my big road trip in spring 2014, I ended up spending something like $450 USD on tolls driving around the country for a couple of months.

    And thanks for the photo of the bathroom icons — that was very funny.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’d love to see Durango some day.

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