The Copper Canyon is a wild, rugged and very impressive canyon system in the Sierra Tarahumara in the north of Mexico. Despite the beautiful landscape and the Canyon’s comparable size and depth to North America’s Grand Canyon, relatively few tourists make it to this part of Mexico. Taking a train ride through the Canyon is one of Mexico's great adventures.
One of Mexico’s most spectacular natural attractions is where the Sierra Madre mountain range forms one of the longest and deepest canyon systems in the world, covering over 40000sq kilometres of rugged land. Three of the canyons – Urique (1890m), Sinforosa (1840m) and Batopilas (1810m) – are not only deeper than Arizona’s famous Grand Canyon (1433m), they are considered to be the world’s 8th, 9th and 10th deepest, respectively.
Known in Spanish as Las Barrancas del Cobre, or Copper Canyon as it’s more commonly known, this natural marvel boasts beautiful scenery, an unforgettable train ride and is home to Mexico’s Tarahumara Indian tribe. The Tarahumara – who call themselves Raramuri, or the ‘light footed ones’, in reference to their running skills are often described as reclusive, but weren’t always that way. When the Spanish arrived, the Tarahumara inhabited Chihuahua’s central plains. In trying to escape forced labour in Spanish-owned mines or haciendas, they slowly retreated into the canyons. Now they exclusively inhabit the Sierra Tarahumara, though the women, colourfully dressed in multi-layered skirts and frilly tops, are often seen on the streets of Chihuahua selling their wares.
The best and easiest way to see the Copper Canyon is by the famous Chihuahua al Pacifico train; affectionately known as ‘El Chepe’.The railroad stretches for 480 kilometres between two cities making numerous stops along its way. It is one of the most spectacular rail journeys in the world and is a magnificent feat of engineering - 655 kilometres of track have been laid across mountains incorporating 360 degree turns, 86 tunnels and 39 bridges to descend from 2,333 metres to sea level.
When to go: October and November are the best times to visit Copper Canyon due to their mild temperatures which allow for hiking, riding or biking. If you’d like to see waterfalls and full season, you’d need to visit during this period in order to enjoy the hot springs and Crusarare Falls. Rain fall during July to September make it difficult to participate in sightseeing and doing activities, so the aftermath of rainy season can mostly be enjoyed during the autumn.
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