Copper Canyon is Mexico’s answer to the Grand Canyon. A group of six essential canyons in the Sierra Madre in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the Copper Canyon system is known locally as Barranca del Cobre. Six rivers formed the canyons that are popular among hikers, campers, and nature lovers from all over the world. Biking and horseback riding are also popular pastimes. Its ancient landscape and majestic sites make it an extraordinary place to visit and set up camp.
The Landscape of the Canyons
While there are six main canyons, there are also many smaller ones that form a group of about twenty. The walls of the canyons are copper and green and extraordinary to behold. There is a wide array of flora and fauna throughout the landscape. Rich biodiversity greets explorers. There are waterfalls, hot springs, and plenty of rugged terrains to explore. Indigenous cultures still make their home around the canyons, but the camping experience is generally less touristy than one would find at the Grand Canyon. In fact, if you combine the main canyons’ area, they are far larger than the Grand Canyon—four times larger!
Camping Copper Canyon
While campers that want to rough it can sleep under the stars throughout the area, there are dedicated campgrounds in both the towns of Creel and Urique. Regulars to the area recommend asking a rancher or farmer for permission to camp on their land for a small fee. While the area, of course, boasts luxury lodging and simple travel lodges, it offers many fine spots for camp. Of course, safety is important, especially if you enter into the more remote and rugged areas of the canyons. Traveling with a guide into these remote regions is strongly recommended, particularly if you have never camped in the canyons before. Otherwise, campers love to find spots near one of the canyon’s lakes or near a particularly beautiful vista.
Tips for Visiting
A tent and plenty of water and food are essential for your trip. Even in the dedicated campgrounds, you’ll want to zip up so that lurking lizards or snakes don’t wander into your tent as you sleep. Sunscreen is also essential for your camping holiday; however, if you visit during the cold season, you can easily expect snow or sleet in the upper mountainous regions.
Visit the Copper Canyon by Train
To visit the Barrancas del Cobra, or Copper Canyon by Train is the best way to see this natural wonder. The Sierra Tarahumara of Chihuahua, where you’ll see one of the largest and deepest canyons in the world, is known as Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) and it’s one of Mexico’s most awe-inspiring regions.
To visit this area of Raramuri Indian culture, it is recommended that you climb aboard the Chihuahua-Pacifico train (Copper Canyon Train), commonly referred to as CHEPE. The route begins in Ojinaga and the train makes stops in the cities of Chihuahua and Chauhtemoc, where you’ll see various Mennonite colonies.
The trail continues along with the Sierra de Creel, a mountain range that lies 2,400 meters (7,920 feet) above sea level. It then runs past the Divisadero station and descends through canyons, tunnels, and ravines that border the edges of the majestic Copper Canyon and the Tararecua and Urique canyons. Along the route, the trail crosses 37 bridges and goes through 86 tunnels before arriving at Los Mochis, in the state of Sinaloa.
Most people enter the canyon system from the town of Creel. Creel is a great place for base camp as it is near Tarahumara villages and near to forests and canyon exploration. Creel is also a great place to find a guide and they have various restaurants if you decide to cook your own supper in the wilds. One of the most popular ways to explore the area is by train; the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico rolls along the main canyon and allows for some spectacular views. You can also enhance your trip to Copper Canyon by reading up on the history and culture of the area as well as the flora and fauna you can expect to see.
There are quite a few options for tours and accommodations in Copper Canyon. If you search google for Copper Canyon Tours or Copper Canyon accommodations you will find options that suit your needs. They seem a bit pricey, but it might be worth it. The alternative is to drive down yourself and go camping. If you drive down make sure to get proper insurance. MexInsurance offers multiple types of insurance for Mexico from different carriers. Click here for a quote.