The Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.
Unrivaled Views One of the most spectacular regions in Mexico is the Copper Canyon
(Barranca del Cobre
). The Copper Canyon
is deeper and more than four times larger than the Grand Canyon. It is located on the steepest part of the western range of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua. The canyons were formed by six rivers born in the high pine forests which drain on the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara. All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and empty into the Sea of Cortez. The Copper Canyon covers 25,000 square miles and features breathtaking waterfalls, lakes, rivers, impressive biodiversity and indigenous groups, all of which spell endless possibilities for adventure, culture and ecotourism activities.
Contrary to its name, no copper has been found in these canyons - the name actually refers to the copper-colored lichen found on the canyon walls. Four of the six canyons are deeper than the Grand Canyon and two of the most spectacular include La Barranca del Urique
, the deepest at 6,165 feet, and Sinforosa
Canyon, known as the 'Queen of the Copper Canyon,' because it is the most dramatic in terms of narrowness and verticality, resulting in one of the most challenging hikes in the region. Sinforosa
Canyon plunges 6,000 feet, with 300-foot waterfalls pouring into the Verde River at the bottom. Mexico's highest waterfalls can be found at Copper Canyon: Piedra Volada
, at 1,486 feet, is the fourth-tallest in the world and the tallest by far in Mexico; and the Basaseachi
at 807 feet is the fifth-tallest waterfall in North America and the second-tallest in Mexico.
Enjoy the Railway:
A terrific way to enjoy the Copper Canyon
is to take a ride on the Pacific-Chihuahua Railway (also known as El Chepe
). The railroad, built over a period of 90 years, is an engineering masterpiece. The Chepe train offers the first-class service between Chihuahua and Los Mochis daily in both directions. Visitors traverse numerous tunnels and bridges through the Sierra Tarahumara mountains and make stops in quaint towns and scenic points along the way. Some of the towns include El Fuerte, built in 1564 by Spanish Conquistador Don Francisco de Ibarra as a military post, Divisadero, and Creel, a small logging town known as the doorway to the Tarahumara Indian settlements featuring nearby caves, lakes, waterfalls, pine forests and unique rock formations. The Tarahumara Indians, who call themselves Raramuri
or the 'light-footed ones,' are famous for their long-distance running ability and are one of the few remaining indigenous groups in the region. It is a privilege to visit some of their homes and ranches where you can buy handicrafts directly from them.
When to Go:
The two best times to visit are from mid-October to mid- November and March through April. This is when you will experience the best weather and most moderate temperatures. We found that late August and September are also good months to visit, even though you may experience occasional rainy afternoons, they are an added value to the experience. Watered by summer thunderstorms, the canyon is a pallet of greens highlighted by the reds and yellows of the dense oaks in spring and the fields of wildflowers in the fall adorn the canyon. The hot, dry months are May and June, so if you plan to hike, you might want to consider the winter months.
These are a major part of the action-packed trip to Copper Canyon
. From mountain-biking paths that wind through the forest from the lumber town of Creel toward the canyons to the rock-climbing craggy peak of El Gigante
Canyon, the region offers a variety of high-energy activities.
Additional resources to help you plan your trip to Copper Canyon
- One of the most spectacular train rides in the world. http://www.chepe.com.mx/ing_html/index.html
- Sanborn's favorite hotel, the only one at the rim of the Canyon, offering the most spectacular views. http://www.hoteldivisadero.com/
Villa Mexicana Creel Mountain Lodge
Hotel Parador de la Montana
Lodge at Creel
Copper Canyon's general information http://www.mexicoscoppercanyon.com/