Copper Canyon

The dramatic mountainous terrain known as Copper Canyon is a part of the Sierra Madre in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Comprising more than 20 steep-sided valleys or canyons and covering an area of 20,000 square miles, this spectacular corner of the Sierra Madre is locally called the Sierra Tarahumara.

It is the traditional home of the Tarahumara Indians, Mexico’s second largest native Indian group, with a population of a little over 50,000 people. The Tarahumara provide the Copper Canyon region with a fascinating cultural element. They are reclusive people living in caves and stone houses, usually high up on the canyon sides and often in the most remote and inaccessible valleys. Their way of life is based on hunting, farming and the raising of goats and cattle. Running has always been an integral part of Tarahumara life, providing a means of communication between their widespread settlements. Athletic prowess is an obvious value of these people and they have traditional competitions that last for days, involving the kicking of a small wooden ball to a goal which might be a hundred miles away.

Another significant cultural influence on the region was the Spanish colonization, some 500 years ago, and the mining of minerals (which, actually, contained very little copper.)

During our exploration of the Copper Canyon, we will be able to visit the small towns of Batopilas, Satevo, Urike and Huapalaina and see some beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture.

Our visit to Copper Canyon will take us into one of the most impressive mountain wilderness areas in the world. The canyons themselves are as much as 5000 feet deep and we will experience a range of climatic and environmental conditions associated with the change in altitude. High up, at altitudes approaching 8000 feet, we will encounter cooler temperatures, extensive pine forests, unusual rock formations, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Dropping down into the bed of the canyons, the vegetation is tropical and the temperatures much higher. We will make a series of day rides, looking for the most interesting routes and will follow a mix of rough jeep roads and single track trails.