Back to the U.S.
When you leave Rancho El Refugio, continue back on the dirt road until you hit the paved road which is Highway 3. Turn right towards Ensenada. Retrace your trip to the Ranch and back to the Ensenada toll booth.
Continue on the toll road through the 3rd (and last) tollbooth. You are now in Tijuana. Continue in the right lane for about 2.8 miles looking carefully for an exit to I-5/San Diego on your right. Watch for this exit – BUT DO NOT TAKE IT. Continue straight ahead after another 1.6 miles and you will then be in the downtown area on a 4 lane – one way street. Work your way over to the #2 lane counting from left to right and stay in it another 1.4 miles until you go under a bridge. Note that you will be ONE LANE to the left of the number 3 lane which is bounded by concrete barriers and curbs just before you go under the bridge. There is a sign overhead on the bridge that says San Diego I-5 – but it can mistakenly lead you into lane 3 – don’t be fooled. Once you are under the bridge, you will merge immediately to the right into the 2 lanes for the San Ysidro border entry to the US. I work hard to get in the right lane, as sometimes you can be edged out if you are in the left of these 2 lanes.
However… sometimes (when it’s real busy) the Mexican police have blocked the on-ramp and will motion you to stay to the left. The sign says “Otay Mesa.” You can go to Otay Mesa which is another border crossing 40 minutes away but it could take longer.
Instead just remain on the road and make the first right turn possible. Continue a few blocks to a T intersection and make another right turn onto another entrance to the US. You can call the US phone numbers for border wait times if you have international phone service. San Ysidro border wait times in San Diego is 619 690-8999. The number at Otay Mesa is 619 671-8999.