Crossing the Mexican Border at Mariposa ( Truck crossing )
Crossing Mexican Border at Naco
Given the long waits at Mariposa recently, we decided to go through Naco on Sunday. We have taken the Naco route a number of times, except in winter if there is danger of snow or ice in Cananea. With all our trips, we have found that if the wait at Mariposa is more than thirty minutes, it is quicker to go the Imuris/Cananea/Naco route if a person heading east on I-10. On Sunday as we pulled up to the Naco crossing, there was a car just leaving, and it took us 2 minutes to cross.
Here's some info if you are considering taking this route. There is a big green sign in Imuris on the right that says to Cananea and Agua Prieta. Take this road. If you need gas, there is an Arco station on the left as you head out of Imuris. The road out of Imuris is two lane and pretty rough as it climbs up into the mountains. There were quite a few trucks heading down, but we only had to pass one going up. We are from NM and are used to driving curving mountain roads, but if you aren't used to driving mountain roads with some real curving sections, keep that in mind. The scenery is beautiful.
When you reach the "peak" of the first mountains you will descend into a fairly flat "valley" section that has a great new road. Why they didn't do the mountain road first, I don't know. After the "valley" you will again be climbing on mountain roads up to the mining town of Cananea. On your left, not too far before reaching Cananea you will pass a very large mining operation. The road after the valley is fairly decent in many places, rough in some areas, but has a number of climbing lanes. We must have only passed about three or four trucks. If there wasn't a climbing lane, the drivers were very polite and would move over onto the shoulder so you could pass. In Cananea follow the main road and you will come to sort of a roundabout with a tall sculpture in the center, go left around the roundabout following the big sign for Agua Prieta, and I believe it also say Naco, but I can't remember for sure. This time through, though, they were doing road repairs at the roundabout so there is a desviacion.
Go left at the desviacion and you will be on a road that parallels the road to Agua Prieta. Just take that until it ends at a little park and go right. You will come to a traffic light at the main road out of town. Go left and the road will take you to the turn to Naco. The road is four lane, and it is a left exit to Naco. It will look like you will be going against the oncoming traffic, but not really. Turn left and Naco is about nine miles more. Just drive straight through town and you will end up in the lane that takes you to the US crossing. Be aware in driving through the town that there are stop signs, on the right and sometimes not too visible, at some of the cross streets, so watch for them. The road after crossing into the US takes you directly into Bisbee AZ. On your right, before the stop light is a Burger King and a Safeway. At the stop light, turn right to head to Douglas AZ.
Directly across the street is a Shell gas station. We had filled up in San Carlos and didn't need to fill up until Bisbee. Head out of town east to Douglas. The road will curve around and you will come to a roundabout. Take the second exit out of the roundabout which will take you to Douglas. To get to I-10E, do not be tempted to take the turn that says to Willcox, we did that once (and that is how Waze takes you) and you will backtrack way west and lose a lot of time. Just keep going straight to Douglas, not very far on, and turn left at the stop light. The sign will say State Line and Road Forks. You cross into New Mexico at State Line, and you join I-10 at Road Forks, west of Lordsburg.
The Naco route may seem like it takes you forever, but we have timed it at least three or four times and compared it to the time it takes if you cross at Mariposa, and every time we have found the Naco route to be faster if Mariposa takes more than thirty minutes to cross. We like the route. However, I do want to warn about the rough road in places and the curving mountain roads if you are not used to them.