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Science, Photography, and Trip Reviews


Copper Canyon, Mexico

Desert, Sea of Cortez, Sierra Madre Mountains, Copper Canyon

Folkloric Dancers, Tarahumara Indians, Mennonites

Chihuahua - Pacifica Railroad Journey

Juan pointing across canyon.


Copper Canyon.

Tour Guide Juan pointing to other side of Urique Canyon miles away.


View of Copper Canyon from balcony of hotel room.

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Tucson, Arizona - where the tour begins

Our tour began in Tucson, Arizona. Most members of the group arrived during the day, so our first meeting with fellow group members was at a meeting prior to our welcome dinner. We also met our Tour Director Randy Cowger. He stayed with us throughout the ten day tour and made sure that everything went according to schedule. He also provided us with lots of interesting information along the way. There were about thirty people in our group. In a short time you become friends with everyone.

Sea of Cortez boat trip.


Rebecca & Sunny with cactus.

Sea of Cortez from boat near San Carlos.


Rebecca & Sunny with tall Cacti in desert near San Carlos.

The morning of Day 2 of the tour we left Tucson for San Carlos, State of Sonora, Mexico. A short distance from Tucson we stopped to visit the Mission of San Xavier Del Bac. The Mission is on the San Xavier Indian Reservation, and it was completed in 1797. It is highly rated as an example of mission architecture.

San Carlos and Sea of Cortez

We crossed the Mexican border at Nogales. The drive all that day was through desert. That evening we arrived at San Carlos, where we would spend two nights in the luxury beachfront Hotel Plaza San Carlos. The next morning we were taken to an overlook for nice views of the Sea of Cortez (also called Gulf of California). From there we went to see some very tall and attractive cacti. We also had an opportunity to shop for some very fine ironwood carvings. In the late afternoon we went on a restful sunset cruise in the Sea of Cortez.

El Fuerte hotel courtyard.


Folkloric dancer

Courtyard of pleasant hotel in El Fuerte.


Folkloric dancer in El Fuerte.

Historic El Fuerte

On Day 4 we headed to El Fuerte, State of Sinaloa, which is located in the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The Spaniards were the first white men to explore Sinaloa. They were in search of gold and other riches. When they arrived in 1530 they found many indigenous Indian tribes. Some of them were of the same race as the Aztecs. The Spaniards founded the city of El Fuerte in 1564. While there we stayed at the Hotel Posada del Hidalgo, which is a very pleasant hotel with pleasing courtyards and attractive vegetation. Prior to dinner talented folkloric dancers entertained us.

Journey on the Chihuahua - Pacifica Railroad

In the morning of Day 5 we met Juan Leon, our special guide in Mexico, and boarded the Chihuahua - Pacifica Railroad for our journey to Buahuichivo, State of Chihuahua. It was a very comfortable ride as we passed through numerous tunnels and over many bridges. It was fascinating to watch the vegetation and topography change as we climbed from about 325 feet (100 meters) to an elevation of about one-mile (1.6 kilometers). In the beginning you see cacti, but at the higher elevations there are pine trees.

Train entering tunnel.


View from train of track.

Train entering one of many tunnels on way to Copper Canyon.


View of track and mountains from train.

A charming mountain village near Urique Canyon

Upon arrival in Buahuichivo our adventure continued as we transferred to a school bus that was fitted with adult-size seats. In this remote mountainous area we went to the village of Cerocahui, which is located in a high fertile river valley. Apple orchards and vineyards are found in this part of the Sierra Madre Mountains.

Prior to dinner we were taken to Urique Canyon Overlooks for our first views of the Copper Canyon. It was very impressive. Looking down 6,136 feet (1.87 kilometers) to the bottom of the canyon we could see the Urique River and the town of Urique. We spent the night in the charming Hotel Mission in Cerocahui, which is located next to a 300-year old Jesuit Mission. In our hotel room was a wood-burning stove, which we needed to warm the room.

In the morning of Day 6 we toured the Mission School and the Mission Church, which was founded in 1690. We also had a nice walk through the village. After that we continued our journey by train to the Posada Barrancas at an elevation of about 7,500 feet (2.3 kilometers). Upon arrival we were taken to the Hotel Barrancas Mirador, where we would spend two nights.

Hotel on edge of canyon


View from hotel dining room.

Hotel on edge of Copper Canyon.


View of Canyon from dining room of hotel at left.

The Incredible Copper Canyon

The Hotel Barrancas Mirador offers awesome views of the Copper Canyon. The hotel is built right on the edge of the canyon near its highest point. The balcony of our room faced the canyon. In addition, from the dining room you look out over the canyon to see this incredible work of nature.

The Copper Canyon is really a system of major and minor canyons collectively referred to as the Copper Canyon. However, one of the major canyons is also called the Copper Canyon. From our hotel balcony we could see three of the individual canyons come together: Urique, Copper, and Tararecua. The system of canyons is four times larger than the famous Grand Canyon of Arizona. These canyons were all created through erosion caused by the flow of rivers over millions of years. In the case of the Copper Canyon the flowing water carved through hard igneous rock. By contrast, the Grand Canyon was carved through many layers of sedimentary rock.

Entertainment at Happy Hour.


Canyon bathed in rays.

Entertainment during Hotel Happy Hour.


Copper Canyon bathed by morning rays as viewed from balcony of hotel room.

While at the Mirador we did a number of interesting and fun things. We walked mountain trails that revealed more views of the canyon. We were also driven to overlooks of the canyon for yet more spectacular views. Each day we enjoyed Happy Hour, which had lively entertainment.

The Tarahumara Indians

The indigenous people in this part of Northwest Mexico are the Tarahumara Indians. They migrated to Mexico hundreds of years ago. They have been left pretty much undisturbed, and they are considered to be the most primitive Indian tribe in all of North America. We had an opportunity to see Tarahumara Indians perform tribal dances and run foot races. They are known for long distance running. These Indians weave very attractive baskets and do wood carvings, and many of us bought some of their handicrafts.

Canyon with Juan on cliff.


Tarahumara Indian with baskets.

View of Copper Canyon from Overlook. Note Tour Guide Juan on edge of cliff.


Tarahumara Indian selling baskets.

The Mennonites

The morning of Day 8 we boarded our motor coach for the trip to Chihuahua City. Along the way we stopped for a short time in the town of Creel to shop and walk around. Then we proceeded to the Mennonite settlement of Cuahtemoc for lunch. The Mennonites immigrated to Mexico from Germany in the 1920s. They continue to speak German and run their own schools. We visited an elementary school.

Chihuahua the Capitol City

In Chihuahua City we stayed in a very nice Westin hotel. The next day we visited the home of Pancho Villa. He gained fame as a revolutionary leader. We also visited the Chihuahua State capitol building. The main reason to visit the capitol is to see a very fine set of murals painted by Aaron Mora, which trace the often violent history of Mexico from the arrival of the Spaniards to the Mexican Revolution. After a visit to the Cathedral we were on our way to El Paso, Texas. There we had our last dinner of the tour together. The next morning, on Day 10, it was time for good byes.

The escorted tour advantage

Escorted tours are very nice because you just lean back, relax, and enjoy the sights while someone else does all of the driving. Tour Director, Randy Cowger, scheduled the sightseeing, entertainment, meals, and provided us with interesting information about each place that we visited. He also saw to every detail including checking us into each hotel and making sure that our luggage was delivered to and returned from our rooms. While in Mexico our expert guide, Juan Leon, gave us in depth knowledge of the places and people that we visited in his country. It had been an incredible adventure.

Chihuahua Capitol.


Collette guide Randy.

Interior of Chihuahua Capitol building.


Tour Director Randy Cowger.

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Photo of Rebecca and Sunny by Jim Brannon. Remaining photos by Sunny Breeding. We sell prints and images.