Tropic of Cancer Monument – Santiago, Mexico - Atlas Obscura

Tropic of Cancer Monument

Santiago, Mexico

This spot along the 23.5 degree north parallel marks the northern boundary of the tropics. 


Until recently, the spot where the Tropic of Cancer passes through Mexico was marked by a single road sign on the east side of the Baja Sur California peninsula. Since 2013, this little stop along the road has grown, and more monuments have sprung up to announce this geographic marker.

This plaza just outside Santiago lies right near the 23.5 degree north parallel, which denotes the northernmost of the three important circles of latitude that cross the globe: the equator in the center, the Tropic of Capricorn in the south, and the Tropic of Cancer in the north, which passes through Mexico, the Bahamas, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, India, and China. The tropics are the two lines of latitude where the sun is directly overhead at noon on the two solstices. The warm-weather areas between these boundaries and the equator are known as the “tropics,” where the sun is never too far away.

The Tropic of Cancer site in Baja Sur California is marked by two sculptures, an oversized globe, and a small chapel adorned with murals and some information about the imaginary line, which is depicted by a stripe that runs through the plaza. Geographic significance aside, this roadside attraction is worth a stop off simply to enjoy the unique beauty of the landscape. While the Pacific offers soft sand and bluish hues, just a few miles inland you can see a beautiful mountain range with arroyos covered in green foliage and cacti.

Know Before You Go

Located at kilometer 82 on the highway just outside of Santiago. The plaza is easily accessible and is seen from the road. There are public restrooms but recommend having your own toiletries. Plenty of parking, which is covered with rocks and stones, so may be hard to push a stroller or wheelchair. However the monument, globe, chapel, and bathroom are smooth tile.

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