Southwest of El Paso and south of Creel in the Sierra Madres, the remote and spectacular Copper Canyon region covers 25,000 rugged sq. miles and is four times larger than the Grand Canyon of Arizona. Also know as Sierra de Tarahumara, it is one of the last great wildernesses in North America. Most rides start from the town of Creel (stay at Parador de la Montana 14-10-45-80) beginning with rim rides past beautiful waterfalls and hot springs. Then begin the 7,400 feet descent into the canyon with a stop in La Bufa (camping). Continue deeper into the canyon towards Batopilas along a route described as the most scenic in North America. Dont forget a side trip to the Lost Mission of Satevo and a dip in the clear pools of the Rio Batopilas. Next, check out the remote village of Cerro Colorado and river crossings.
Other accomodations along the trail include Hotel San Francisco (Chihuahua) 14-16-75-50, Posada Barrancas Mirador (Divisadero) 14-16-65-89, and Hotel Santa Anita (Los Mochis) 14-16-65-89.
The lowest cost option to get to the Copper Canyon is to fly to El Paso (US) and drive south across the border. A popular access point is the town of Creel where you can obtain supplies and maps.
A typical 7 day itinerary is as follows:
The journey begins in El Paso, TX, where you start out for base camp in Creel, Mexico. After loading the vehicles, get an early start, leaving El Paso by van and venturing into the Mexican city of Juarez. Continue driving, heading directly south for a lunch date in Villa Ahumada. Villa Ahumada is famous for its cheese quesadillas and their wonderful chili rellenos, a treat you won't soon forget. After lunch, continue south and head towards Mennonite country. This part of the drive is interesting, as you will get to see Mexicos Mennonite farms and orchards. Arrive in Creel in the afternoon just in time for a great Mexican dinner.
Leave civilization behind today. Rise eager to do some riding, and after a delicious breakfast, you get to it. Loading all supplies necessary for the trip onto the ATV, head out for San Isidro. If riding double, one of the two riders will join Ana in boarding the train for the small town of Bahuichivo. The train ride is one of the world s finest engineering feats, boasting 39 bridges and 86 tunnels. In Bahuichivo, the train riders meet up with Pete and the other half of the group. En route to San Isidro, stop at Divisadero, which boasts a spectacular view. You will also see Tarahumara Indians in typical cave dwellings. Upon arriving in San Isidro, the hotel will take your breath away. At the end of this day, you will have traveled over 70 miles, with some pavement and mostly dirt, at an elevation of around 8,000 feet.
The third day’s ride will be all dirt roads and trails. Descend over 6,000 feet to the floor of Urique Canyon. The ride begins at around 8,000 feet, descending to 1,600 feet. Leaving the pine forest, feel the temperature change as you arrive in cactus country at the bottom. Urique is a small town nestled next to a roaring river. Small adobe houses and ranches dot the riverbank. Spend this day enjoying the descent and having a great meal in Urique. At the end of the day, climb back up 6,000 feet to the top of the canyon and back to Margaritas wilderness lodge for a great meal and a good night’s sleep. This day of riding will consist of all dirt and plenty of relaxation.
The fourth day is the longest ride of the trip, covering over 80 miles of rugged terrain on the canyon floor. You will be lucky to see another car, airplane or telephone wire. Your rear end will thank you for independent suspension. The destination will be Batopilas. Leaving the ponderosa pines behind again, head for the canyon floor in route to Batopilas. This is an adventurous ride with mountain beginnings and desert endings. Venture through small villages and across big rivers. Stopping at a ranch for a cold soda will be a welcome break after half a day of vigorous riding. This leg of the journey will give you the opportunity to open up your machine and make a run for it. Riding on, you will top a big peak and descend into Batopilas. Looking down at the church in Satevo, you will know you have arrived in Batopilas. Check into another of Margaritas beautiful hotels for a delicious meal and a good night’s rest.
The fifth day will be spent in and around Batopilas. This is a day for sleeping in late and relaxing. Outside of Batopilas is the town of Satevo, which is host to the lost cathedral, dating back to the late 1700s. The cathedral will get some of your time as you visit its site. After that, have a great lunch in Batopilas, and then go to Alexander Shepherds home (Hacienda San Miguel) for a visit. Shepherd was an American entrepreneur who made Batopilas a wealthy mining town in years past. His home is believed to have been built between 1880 and 1910. For those that would like to relax and cool off, a nice swim in the crystal clear river is in order.
Today, ride 6,000 feet out of Batopilas and La Bufa canyon and head back for the base camp of Creel. This day will be a mixture of dirt and pavement. Along the way out of the canyon you will feel you are leaving something even greater than the Grand Canyon. Your heart will beat with excitement as you navigate the 11-foot wide road with a 6,000-foot drop off. The temperature will fall as you climb back into the pines requiring a few more articles of clothing. See beautiful canyons and spectacular vegetation native to the region. See local farmers plowing fields with horse and plow. Along the way, take the time to visit a waterfall and spend a little time at one of the local lakes. Arriving back in Creel, check into Margaritas and meet up in the cantina for spirits and stories.
Note: Prior to 1997, the topographic maps developed by the federal government used the NAD27 CONUS datum. Starting in 1998, the government transitioned to the ITRF92 datum (some maps show both datum), which is pretty much identical to the WGS84 datum.