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The People's Guide To Mexico

The Copper Canyon
The Best of Mexico
Letters on the Copper Canyon

Carl's Copper Canyon Notebook

Issue 01

published: September 2001

Thursday, September 20, 2001

As summer ends, I’m looking ahead to a long and very busy season of hiking in the Sierra Tarahumara and northwestern Sierra Madre of Chihuahua. Beginning in early November, I’ll lead hikes for the Sierra Club and other groups into the Urique/Copper Canyon, and later, in early 2002, a first-time hiking expedition into the little-known Oteros Canyon. If time allows, we’ll also scout the Candamena Canyon, looking for routes for a much longer hike there sometime in the future.

It promises to be exciting, but the downside to these adventures is that I’ll be away for months at a time. Lorena isn’t a hiker, so she has to stay home and singlehandedly cope with our chores, dogs, website updates, and other ongoing projects.

Among these projects is a major overhaul of this Copper Canyon section of The People’s Guide To Mexico website. We’ve talked about it for years, but we’re finally reaching the point of “critical mass” in terms of resources and unpublished Copper Canyon material. Thanks to a considerable amount of help from our canyon-loving friend, “Desert Dweller”, we’re about to launch extensive sections on Canyon-related travel, hiking, maps, photography, books and articles, websites, scholarly papers, volunteer and research projects, Tarahumara music and many other topics.

As we continue to broaden our coverage of Mexico’s northwestern canyons and Sierra Madre, you’ll find regular updates and new entries here, in Carl’s Copper Canyon Notebook. Of course it’s going to be a challenge to keep these updates coming while I’m actually in the canyons, but with any luck....

Copper Canyon Bus Schedule

I’d like to open this Notebook with something sexier than a bus schedule, but the information below is very important for anyone planning an overland trip to and from Creel, which is fast becoming the epicenter of Copper Canyon tourism. Unlike central and southern Mexico, buses don’t run as frequently in the Sierra, so having a reasonably accurate schedule can be very important.....(more) by Carl Franz

The Copper Canyon Train

Service and comfort are much improved on the famous Copper Canyon train from Chihuahua City to Los Mochis (on the Pacific coast). Along with these improvements, however, we also have much higher ticket prices.

People I spoke to in Chihuahua said the increase in fares hadn’t noticeably affected the numbers of tourists traveling by train, but it definitely clobbered the locals. Anyone who lives in one of the small, remote canyon communities along “la via” (the rail line), depends on the second-class “Economica” train to get basic supplies, and to travel in and out of the sierra. Higher fares represent a serious financial burden for these people..... (more) by Carl Franz

Driving to the Copper Canyon

We are a church hiking club from Phoenix, AZ interested in exploring the Copper Canyon. We were told that the Canyon was in the vicinity of Puerto Penasco, but none of your articles mention driving from Arizona. Is this possible? Could we cross the border at Puerto Penasco for the shortest route, rather than at Nogales? This is my first question. I am still deeply engrossed in reading your website. It is wonderful!.... (more) from Susan D.

What about Toll Roads to Los Mochis?

Mexico’s extensive system of toll highways cause a good deal of groaning and teeth-gnashing from tourists. Those who drive “big rig” RV’s and motorhomes are especially vocal in their complaints about the high toll costs involved in an extensive Mexican road trip.

After more than 30 years of driving in Mexico, and countless white-knuckle, near-death experiences involving jaywalking burros, rolling rocks, and tire-busting potholes, I personally love these toll roads. Whenever we want to experience “the good old days” of driving here, all Lorena and I have to do is follow any free Mexican highway -- and there are literally thousands of them still to explore. But... when we have a long road trip ahead of us, or an important errand in a distant city, we’ll take the autopista. Yes, the cost can be painful. In our experience, however, the increased comfort, safety, fuel economy, and reduced wear and tear on our nerves and vehicle, are well the worth the tolls.... (more)

Towns & Villages of the Copper Canyon

....• Areponapuchi, locally known as "Arepo", is a village a few miles west of Divisadero, toward Mochis. Arepo is also the Posada Barrancas train stop. I have many friends here, some of whom now operate simple, family-style posadas. There is nothing to do in Areponapuchi but hike, sightsee and enjoy the true flavor of Sierra Madre life..... (more)

Copper Canyon Itineraries

from the upcoming
The People's Guide to Mexico, 13th edition

Planning a trip into the Sierra Madre is complicated by a lack of "infrastructure" and a dearth of reliable information. I’ve listed several itinerary options below, followed by a more detailed, place-by-place description. Whichever itinerary you follow, do your best to make at least one side trip by bus or hired vehicle to the deeper canyon bottoms at Batopilas (from Creel) or Urique (from Bahuichivo). The roads to these ancient mining villages provide views that rival and even surpass those seen from the train.... (more)

©1972-2008 by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens