So you want the Fast Track to Lake Chapala by Car !

December 16, 2008

So you want the Fast Track to Lake Chapala by Car !

by Cynthia Klenke

Here’s a trip report from a nice lady named Cynthia who is a friend and client.

She chose to go the Fast Track to Lake Chapala by car.. i.e. Taking the almost all toll road route going South from the Texas Border…

Crossing at Laredo (We started our trip mileage meter & I’ll give those numbers)

I wrote these directions for my son and his wife who had driven down before. If you have a trip meter in your car and you reset when you cross the border, you should be close to these. I can’t swear these are 100% accurate, but at least it will give you some idea of where you’re at.

FYI – some American cell phones will work near border, but won’t work thereafter. I have Verizon, and I have coverage here, but I had to call them and tell them I’d be in Mexico so they’d let me connect.

Crossing border at Laredo.

Go straight through town until you come to a “T” intersection – sign will say Monterrey to the left. Turn left and further down the road will divide and you want to veer to the right.

1st toll (75.6 miles) El Rancho hotel is not too far past 1st toll booth. (Moderately priced; wireless internet, Church’s Chicken, Subway and another restaurant to choose from.)

Leaving El Rancho you’ll turn right and go down about ½ mile to a returno - DO NOT GO BACK THROUGH TOLL BOOTH – you can do a U-turn before you get there.

You’ll be on Hwy 85/Cuota toward Monterrey

Take #40/Cuota exiting to right toward Saltillo (129 miles)

2nd toll ($113)

Follow signs to Matehaula/Cuota – bridge will exit to left (188 miles)

Turn left on Luis Echeverria (?sp) (190 miles)

Turn left at big intersection to back on Cuota (191 miles)

Follow signs straight toward Matehaula/Mexico (when you see “Mexico” it is referring to Mexico City) Some signs say Matehaula and some will say Mexico

We also saw a nice hotel called Camino Real – maybe a little expensive though. Also saw a sign for Holiday Inn, but didn’t actually see the building.

Signs will start saying “San Luis Potosi”

3rd toll ($50)

Bear left toward San Luis Potosi (348 miles)

4th toll ($15) go straight to SLP

Bear left to Guadalajara/Cuota (458 miles)

5th toll $44 (472 mile)

You will next get on Hwy 80 at Moreno del Lago and go straight.

Go right on #80 to stay on cuota at Moreno. (481 mile)

6th toll ($94) – they will ask you how far you’re going on cuota so they know how much to charge you. Tell them you’re going to Moreno del Lago.

You’ll come to a circle at 530 Miles – go around and follow signs to Guadalajara #80.

Follow signs to Guadalajara – you’ll have to turn right at 542 miles.

7th toll ($12) Go straight toward Moreno

You’ll have to turn right at 546 miles – I think there is a sign to Guadalajara

Stay on #80 following signs to Guadalajara – there’ll be another right turn at 589 miles.

You’ll come to an intersection at 593 miles, but just go straight.

At 597 miles, you’ll turn right again – follow signs to Guadalajara.

8th toll $102 – (634 miles)

9th toll $86 – (665 miles)

10th toll $37 – (693 miles)

You’ll need to be careful not to pass the exit in Guadalajara to Chapala. Depending on the time of day, traffic may be heavy.

At 704 miles, should be exit #23 to Chapala.

At 706 miles, take right following signs to Chapala/Colima.

This road will bring you into the lake area. I didn’t write any more mileages down, but you’ll bear off to the right following signs to Chapala about 15 min after getting on this road.

You’ll cross the mountains, and then there will be a sign to Ajijic/Jocotepec.

If you plan to go directly to Ajijic or towns west of Ajijic then turn right here and continue along this highway called the Libremiento until it comes to a red light.

You’ll turn right and go into Ajijic. If you continue West through Ajijic you’ll pass through a few small “towns” and then you’ll see El Chante. Just a few minutes past that, you’ll see come townhouses on left called El Jorge and then the entrance to Las Fuentes’ on the right hand side (North)..

Jocotepec at the far West end of the Lake is a few more minutes West.

Sid’s Note: A Big Thanks to Cynthia for sharing her trip details. She and husband are the proud new owners of a very nice home in Roca Azul (Blue Rock) just South of Jocotepec.

  • shelley edson

    Strom Moving has excellent driving instructions from Laredo to Lake Chapala which I used several weeks ago.

    What needs to be added is to stop at immigration which is at the border at nuevo laredo. I drove on to customs – 20 miles – as I didn’t see an immigration sign. They sent me back. (Note – nuevo laredo not mentioned in subject article – which is the Mexican border crossing)

    I would suggest publicizing Strom’s directions – as they are more comprehensive.

  • C Broscheid

    are the tolls listed in pesos or dollars?

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi C Broscheid:

    Yes, Both articles list the toll fees in pesos. The current exchange rate is about 13.5 to 1. To get the cost in dollars of the tolls just devide the toll in pesos by the current exchange rate..

    A toll charge of 100 pesos (Mexico uses the $ sign for pesos) is currently about $7.40 USD. or discount the peso amount by approx 25% currently.

    Don’t change your dollars at the toll booth as the exchange rate is not good at all. Change them in Laredo on the right hand side of the road just before you enter the bridge where Interstate 35 ends.

    As you travel South on Interstate 35 you can watch the mile markers. Mile marker 25 will mean you’re 25 miles North of the Texas – Mexican Border for example.

    Thanks for your question, Sid

  • sergio

    Hi everyone, I will be traveling to a town south of chapala called Mazamitla, jalisco. Can anyone give me directions on how to get there from last point on the chapla directions. please email me at I will be traveling from laredo. thanks, god bless.

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Sergio, You’ve picked a pretty area in which to sight see. Check the link below to take you to a detailed map of the area which clearly shows your choices of roads from Lake Chapala to Mazamitla.

    By the way if anyone out there would prefer to take a guided tour to this area from the Lake Chapala Area my wife, Arcelia, gives area tours including one to Mazamitla. For more information on her tours, rates, and availability just drop me an e mail to I’ll forward the map link to Sergio’s e mail address, but wanted to post the map link here because it’s good to have in anyone’s bag of tricks who travels by car in Mexico. Sid

Email for more information:

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