Where: Chihuahua, Northwest Mexico
Best Season: January – April
Best Sights: hot springs and Tarahumara Indians
Remember to Bring: Clothes for hot and chilly conditions
Watch out for: Snakes!
Hiking the Copper Canyon, or Barranca del Cobre as it is known to the locals, takes the adventurous through the heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental in the Northwestern province of Chihuahua, Mexico. In reality, the Copper Canyon is not one, but twenty canyons, and is four times larger than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is also home to one of North Americas most mysterious tribes – the Tarahumara Indians. Hiking in the Copper Canyon isn’t for the faint-hearted. The trails can be steep and slippery, the accommodation basic, and it takes time to adjust to the heat and the altitude. But if you can overcome this, and are fit and have the spirit of adventure, let the Tarahumara people take you to truly magical place.
– Sleeping in a cave by the light of a campfire.
– Meeting the Tarahumara people and learning about their culture.
– Relaxing in a hot spring on the floor of the canyon.
Our Journey Path
There are many routes crisscrossing the Copper Canyon so its imperative to travel with a guide to prevent getting lost. Trips can last two days or two weeks, depending on your stamina. Zay Harding heads out of the Sierra Lodge near Cusarare with ten burros, ten Tarahumara guides, cooks and tortilla maker and of course, the illustrious Skip McWilliams. The convoy travelled slowly through the plains near the Lodge and headed towards one of the canyons. Walking at an easy pace past Tarahumara homesteads and through forested mesas, the group reach their campsite. After a chilly night around the campfire, Zay and his companions hike one-thousand feet to the bottom of the canyon. Along the canyon floor, caves such as Basirecota make warm, dry places to sleep overnight. There are several hot springs on the canyon floor that make for a truly relaxing end to a tough days hiking. Imagine stretching out in the sulfuric pools of hot water at midnight, with the stars twinkling and the magical sounds of the canyon surrounding you. From here, Zay and his guides trek along the canyon floor and on up, finally reaching the Cusarare Falls at the end of the journey.
To protect legs from snake bites, pack a pair of long pants. A light shirt is necessary to keep cool. A fleece will come in handy during the chilly nights.
Matches are multipurpose; keeping warm, cooking and lighting the way when lost.
Once inside the canyons, emergency evacuation and helicopter rescues are not an option, so smart to go with an experienced guide. The Tarahumara people are the best bet.
The Tarahumara people are very private and do not like to be photographed.
Did you know?
The Tarahumara are considered to be the world’s best long distance runners. In their native tradition, hunters would actually chase their prey for days until the animal simply collapsed with exhaustion.
Approximately 50,000 Tarahumara Indians live in the Copper Canyon.
Where to stay:
Copper Canyon Lodges
U.S. Reservation Office
2741 Paldan Drive
Auburn Hills, Michigan 48326 U.S.A.
Tel: 1 (800) 776-3942 or (248) 340-7230
Fax: (248) 340-7212
Email: coppercanyon *at* earthlink.net
For further reading and outstanding photographs, try Richard Fisher’s “Mexico’s Copper Canyon,”
available for $16.95 plus $2.00 postage & handling, at:
P.O. Box 86492
Tucson, AZ 85754