Exploring Trails in the Copper Canyon

Check out our 9-day (4 nights camping) or 10-day (5 nights camping) inclusive packages (with burros); or walk to the Caballo Blanco UltraMarathon (6 nights camping), or see the Easter Festivities; or our 8-day Backpack.

SIERRA TARAHUMARA: NORTH AMERICA'S DEEPEST CANYONS

The Copper Canyon area of Mexico's Sierra Madre is a large plateau of volcanic tuff deeply cut by rivers. The Tarahumaran Indians began to migrate here from the fertile plains of Chihuahua about 500 years ago. As Spanish efforts to find slave labor for their silver mining operations increased, the Indians adapted read more…

Copper Canyon Trails features burro-assisted hiking where clients carry little more than a daypack. We offer a 5-day (4-night) camping trip as part of a 9 day package, or a 6-day (5-night) camping trip as part of a 10 day package which includes the Copper Canyon Train and all travel connections and accommodations from and back to the airport at Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Meeting us at the canyon rim is also possible. The camping portion includes day hikes in the canyon between the canyon rim and the river that are impossible to do by day hiking alone. A variety of hiking options will challenge the most experienced hikers. These burro trips are fully supported. We carry roomy expedition tents, and a fully stocked kitchen complete with a cook! Our attentive local crew will even deliver your duffelbag to your tent, and serve during happy hour?! Come and join the expedition!!

Canyon Quote
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
and sorry I could not take both...,
I chose the one less traveled by,
and that has made all the difference.

— Robert Frost

We offer several self-supported backpacking trips. Backpacks are more like a "no pain, no gain" experience. All backpacks are custom designed. We have a number of trailheads in the area from which to choose. The hikes are more demanding, but allow passage through some routes too difficult for burros. The routes and level of difficulty can be tailored to your level of experience. Novice backpackers need not worry, though. You don't have to get far away from the crowd to enjoy the splendid natural environment and tranquility that the canyon country has to offer. We'll even help you choose a new route, if you've been here before and want to expand your repertoire.

If you're short on time, but have the desire and stamina, we can fulfill your most aggressive itinerary. Or if you're looking for peace and solitude, birdwatching rare species at the extremes of their range, soaking in hot tubs miles from the nearest road, or discovering waterfalls during the rainy season, we can make your dreams a reality. Contact us to customize a trip.

PIEDRA VOLADA: MEXICO'S HIGHEST WATERFALL

Also known as the Sierra Tarahumara, this deeply fissured country boasts some of the deepest canyons in North America. In fact, if you're considering a trip to Las Barrancas, consider hiking Arizona's famous Grand Canyon as a great warmup! If so, also consider hiring one of our guiding buddies from All Star Grand Canyon Tours or Wildland Trekking to maximize your experience. The Barranca Candamena in Chihuahua is home to Mexico's highest, and third highest waterfalls. Piedra Volada, Mexico's highest waterfall at 1200 feet (365m) was only brought to the attention of the outside world in 1996. Unfortunately, these treasures of the Sierra Madre is not part of our basic itinerary, but you could (and should) extend your trip a day or two to see them. It's almost 4 hours away by twisty mountain roads from Divisadero, and 3 from Creel just to the lookout. Most hotels can easily arrange a day trip. You'll need a hiking guide to get further afield.

A network of trails cross this vast area, leading past ruins of mining camps and abandoned bridges not maintained since the heyday of the mule trains carrying silver bullion. It would take a lifetime to know the whole area, but we employ local guides who are intimately connected to it all. From their perspective, we get a rare insight into this fascinating environment. By request, we also offer an "11 day road trip" combined with a 5 day burro trek, or opt for day hikes only with an "8 day road trip" from the Tucson airport. See ruins, waterfalls, and local flora and fauna from the tropical to the temperate, and visits to the best that Chihuahua has to offer. Whether you're looking for camping with challenging day hikes, backpacking, ruins, indigenous culture and crafts, or canyoneering, Copper Canyon Trails can create the itinerary!

We camp out, or stay in rustic lodges. Accommodations may be spartan as much of the region is without electricity, but the meals are filling and the locals are friendly. We may experience remote ranch life for some meals. Group size is from 6 to 12 clients, always with 2 English speaking guides. Small group size gives us the opportunity to maximize your experience and minimize our impact. Backcountry meals are typically prepared using local ingredients as available.

CUSTOMIZE YOUR TRIP

Words to the Wise
"To look at these mountains is a soul inspiring sensation;
but to travel over them is exhaustive to muscle and patience.
And the possibility of losing at any moment
perhaps the most valuable part of your outfit
is a constant and severe strain on your mind.
Nobody except those who have travelled in the Mexican mountains
can understand and appreciate the difficulties and anxieties
attending such a journey.
— Carl Lumholtz

CONTACT Us to customize your trip with regard to your schedule, itinerary, pocketbook, or other specific needs (corporate retreat, team building, skills enhancement). We can work with you to maximize your time in the canyons. DON'T forget to include a Baja bound ferry at the end of the trip, or a second night in the colonial town of El Fuerte. Shoestring travelers joining us at the canyon rim can greatly reduce the trip cost.

Copper Canyon Trails is recommended by the definitive Mexico travel guide, Carl Franz' People's Guide to Mexico. We recommend this timeless travelbook not only for its perpetual usefulness, but for its entertainment value in reliving the pitfalls of a savvy gringo travelling in Mexico. Carl and his partner Lorena Havens have forgotten more about Mexico than most anybody will ever know, but they stay current and have a well used website where comments and up-to-date information are appreciated.

We inherited our local burro crew from Gary Zeigler and Amy Finger of Adventure Specialists. They hired our guide's dads as their guides! Talk about family tradition. Gary, a world renowned authority on the Inca, and Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, recently discovered the Inca city of Llactapata, greatly increasing our knowledge of the importance of the Machu Pichu complex. They offer personalized tours in the Andes. Copper Canyon Trails supports and works with Center for Biological Diversity. Their efforts to call attention to the fragmentation of fragile desert ecosystems have demonstrated the interconnectedness of diverse habitats; and Sky Island Alliance. Their pioneering efforts to document the larger habitats required for large mammals with the help of citizen-scientists have produced data that is used to establish wildlife corridors between distant mountain ranges; the "sky islands" separated by "desert seas". They have recently documented native jaguar hunting ranges as far north as southern Arizona. Please check out the websites of both of these worthy environmental organizations based in Tucson, AZ. We also support and admire NativeSeeds/S.E.A.R.C.H. For years this non-profit organization has maintained the integrity of distinct plant species in the Desert Southwest, including the Sierra Madre and the Colorado Plateau. In this GMO world when airborne pollen can compromise indigenous species, forever eradicating hereditary traits, this is an increasingly arduous task. Recently a seed farm has been opened in Batopilas to grow-out local seeds.

Words of Wisdom
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do
than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— Mark Twain

Those concerned with indigenous rights, particularly with a hankering to run 30 miles or more for a mere gourdful of Tesguino, visit Norawas de Rararmuri, friends of the running people. Otherwise, Sierra Madre Alliance has good information. OR, if you're into Running, you should already be here.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

BY AIRPLANE

Currently the least expensive flights to LOS MOCHIS are over $800 no matter how much shopping around you do. You can practically get to Amsterdam or Lima for less. Consequently, we've recently begun van tours from Tucson. Granted, Los Mochis arrivals have some benefits, such as experiencing El Fuerte (founded 1564! and arguably home of the famous Zorro), and riding the CHEPE (CHihuahua al Pacifico) train, rated as one the world's 10-best train rides! Consider arriving in Los Mochis and leaving the canyons for Chihuahua by bus. The first bus leaves early enough to enjoy some of what Mexico's largest state capital has to offer such as the Pancho Villa Museum and the picturesque main square and cathedral. There are also 3 buses daily to the Copper Canyon rim from Chihuahua City. Also consider spending an extra day or two in the area to visit Mexico's "Yosemite Canyon'- Barranca Candameña, home to Cascada Basaseachi and Mexico's highest waterfall Piedra Volada. If you don't have a travel agent, you can try ours: Earl Fox in Colorado, 719-578-0011.

BY TRAIN

DESTINATION (LOS MOCHIS to CHIHUAHUA) DURATION MILE/(km)
Los Mochis to El Fuerte 2:15
El Fuerte to Temoris 3:05
Temoris to Bahuichivo 1:05
Bahuichivo to Cuiteco 0:11
Cuiteco to San Rafael 0:55
San Rafael to Posada Barrancas 0:20
Posada Barrancas to Divisadero 0:40
Divisadero to Creel 1:22
Creel to San Juanito 0:36
San Juanito to Cuauhtemoc 2:17
Cuauhtemoc to Chihuahua 2:16
Elapsed Time- (times are approximate) 14:59
Currently (October, 2013), One train daily from each direction- 1st and 2nd class cars are now on the same locomotive. Hey, send some photos. All the stations have signs posting milage to and from Ojinaga/El Presidio to Los Mochis. Please send a photo of the stations name, and schedule posted there so I can update this table. Thanks.

BY BUS

If you don't want to miss any scenery, you can go overland. TUFESA Bus lines have an 8pm (2000H) departure from Tucson. It arrives in Los Mochis 12 hours later. An easy border crossing connection at Nogales, Sonora makes this a popular low cost choice ($120.00 USD). You'll have to get to the hotel in El Fuerte on your own, but it gives you a chance to see the old sugarmill town of Los Mochis. Los Mochis and El Fuerte hotel information is provided upon request. El Paso Greyhound can put you directly into Chihuahua, with several daily connections to Cuauhtemoc, and three connections a day to Creel/Divisadero/San Rafael; and two to Basaseachi. Some El Paso hotels have free airport shuttles.

After the hike you can continue on, by train or bus, to Chihuahua City. The cathedral/central plaza area downtown is very picturesque. A popular zocalo with a centrally located gazebo is flanked by porticos. As sunset approaches, this area becomes a social center as prospective or perpetual couples make the paseo. There is a lot of revolutionary history in this town, and a Pancho Villa museum in a period palace called Quinta Luz. The actual car in which Pancho Villa was assassinated while driving thru Parral has retired here.

BY CAR

RULE #1: Don't drive at night! There is too much that can go wrong. Ranch stock wandering around the roads in daytime is bad enough. If a logging truck breaks down, you know he's going to stop right there. There's no shoulder. He might tip over if he did try to pull over. And don't expect blinkers or flashers. That wiring has probably been put to better use. Speed bumps aren't marked, and then there are pedestrians who are on the road because there are no lights and no shoulder. Remember Rule #1. There are convenient border crossings at El Paso, TX, Santa Teresa and Columbus, N.M., Douglas and Nogales, AZ. The canyon rim is at least 8 hours from the border, once you clear immigrations, so start early. Watch out for speed bumps (topes) once you leave the toll roads.

Driving Directions from Tucson.
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Escorted Hikes and Burro Expeditions in Mexico's Copper Canyon: Book One Now!

Copper Canyon Trails, LLC ― www.coppercanyontrails.org ― 1334 West Pennington Street ― Tucson, AZ 85745 ― Phone: 520-324-0209