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Mexico's Copper Canyon

Las Barrancas:

Cobre • Batopilas • Urique • Oteros • Candamena • Chinipas • Sinforosa

Mexico's Copper Canyon is much more than just one canyon. The vast northwestern Sierra Madre and Sierra Tarahumara include at least 15 major canyons and are home to tens of thousands of Tarahumara (Raramuri) Indians, traditional Mexican ranchers, and prospectors. Just a day's travel south of the U.S. border, the Copper Canyon is still remarkably untouched by progress. This is one of America's best, yet least-known regions for hiking, camping, and do-it-yourself adventure.

Mexico's Copper Canyon

Carl's Copper Canyon Notebook

El Paso: Crossing the Border by Bus

Many people don’t realize just how easy a trip into the Sierra Madre can be if you take the bus. Start by taking a cross-border Greyhound bus from El Paso, Texas, directly to the huge terminal in Juárez, Mexico (about an hour). Before reaching the Juárez terminal, the driver’s assistant may offer to radio ahead and reserve a seat for you on the first available bus to Chihuahua.... (more) by Carl Fran

Towns & Villages of the Copper Canyon

....Areponapuchi, locally known as "Arepo", is a village a few miles west of Divisadero, toward Mochis. Arepo is also the Posada Barrancas train stop. I have many friends here, some of whom now operate simple, family-style posadas. There is nothing to do in Areponapuchi but hike, sightsee and enjoy the true flavor of Sierra Madre life..... (more)

Although this country is very sparsely inhabited, you’ll occasionally encounter the Tarahumara, especially while hiking. It is important to understand that many Tarahumara are so shy that they prefer not to talk to strangers. When meeting on the trail, for example, it is not unusual for Tarahumara women and children to slip away or to firmly turn their backs and refuse to speak. Never impose by taking photographs or approaching occupied dwelling caves and cabins without invitation..... (more)

I’d like to open this Notebook with something sexier than a bus schedule, but the information below is very important for anyone planning an overland trip to and from Creel, which is fast becoming the epicenter of Copper Canyon tourism. Unlike central and southern Mexico, buses don’t run as frequently in the Sierra, so having a reasonably accurate schedule can be very important..... (more) by Carl Franz

Service and comfort are much improved on the famous Copper Canyon train from Chihuahua City to Los Mochis (on the Pacific coast). Along with these improvements, however, we also have much higher ticket prices.

People I spoke to in Chihuahua said the increase in fares hadn’t noticeably affected the numbers of tourists traveling by train, but it definitely clobbered the locals. Anyone who lives in one of the small, remote canyon communities along “la via” (the rail line), depends on the second-class “Economica” train to get basic supplies, and to travel in and out of the sierra. Higher fares represent a serious financial burden for these people..... (more) by Carl Franz

Planning a trip into the Sierra Madre is complicated by a lack of "infrastructure" and a dearth of reliable information. I’ve listed several itinerary options below, followed by a more detailed, place-by-place description. Whichever itinerary you follow, do your best to make at least one side trip by bus or hired vehicle to the deeper canyon bottoms at Batopilas (from Creel) or Urique (from Bahuichivo). The roads to these ancient mining villages provide views that rival and even surpass those seen from the train.... (more)

We are a church hiking club from Phoenix, AZ interested in exploring the Copper Canyon. We were told that the Canyon was in the vicinity of Puerto Penasco, but none of your articles mention driving from Arizona. Is this possible? Could we cross the border at Puerto Penasco for the shortest route, rather than at Nogales? This is my first question. I am still deeply engrossed in reading your website. It is wonderful!.... (more) from Susan D.

Mexico’s extensive system of toll highways cause a good deal of groaning and teeth-gnashing from tourists. Those who drive “big rig” RV’s and motorhomes are especially vocal in their complaints about the high toll costs involved in an extensive Mexican road trip.

After more than 30 years of driving in Mexico, and countless white-knuckle, near-death experiences involving jaywalking burros, rolling rocks, and tire-busting potholes, I personally love these toll roads. Whenever we want to experience “the good old days” of driving here, all Lorena and I have to do is follow any free Mexican highway -- and there are literally thousands of them still to explore. But... when we have a long road trip ahead of us, or an important errand in a distant city, we’ll take the autopista. Yes, the cost can be painful. In our experience, however, the increased comfort, safety, fuel economy, and reduced wear and tear on our nerves and vehicle, are well the worth the tolls.... (more)

We took the bus from El Paso across the border to Juarez.... At the border, we received verbal assurance from the bus driver that he would wait for us as we did the paperwork. We came back outside to find our packs on the ground, no bus. On the bus we had left two small bags of relative importance. ALWAYS STAY WITH ALL YOUR BELONGINGS.... (more) by Sheri Lynn


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