Mexico's Copper Canyon is a beautiful group of canyons in the country's state of Chihuahua. In addition to its rich cultural heritage and geological history, Copper Canyon is home to the Tarahumara, a native tribe that's lived in the area for thousands of years. For these and so many other reasons, if you are looking to impress a client or plan an employee outing, Copper Canyon is the place to go.
Copper Canyon, Mexico
Although Mexico is filled with many natural wonders, very few, have the beauty and size of Copper Canyon. Made up of six canyons, Copper Canyon is about five times larger than the Grand Canyon. It was made by six rivers that empty into the Gulf of California. It gets its name from the green/copper color of the canyon's walls.
Copper Canyon was formed as the result of volcanic activity that happened over 20 million years ago. Six separate rivers developed in the area after the volcano erupted. The Tararecua, the Urique, the Batopilas, the Candamena, the Verdes, and the Chinipas, and they helped to create the canyons that exist today.
Miners and Jesuit missioners started inhabiting Copper Canyon in the early 1500s around the time Spain came in to take over Mexico. They pushed the native tribes off their land for the silver they found on it. In the late 1800s, Albert Owen decided he wanted to open a train line between Texas and the Sea of Cortez. This would enable miners easy access to the area as well as open up Copper Canyon to tourism.
He ended up running out of money, so the eastern side of the track was the only part that was finished. About 80 years later in 1961, the track was finally completed. Many of the Tarahumara that still lived in the area sold their crafts, food, and items along the line, and its something they still do to this day.
The Tarahumara have inhabited Mexico's Copper Canyon for hundreds of years. During the Spanish invasion of the 1500s, they retreated to the higher altitudes of Copper Canyon after miners chased them out. The population is still fairly large with around 50,000 tribe members left. Many of them still live the traditional lifestyle of their ancestors.
They live in natural shelters such as cliff overhangs and caves. Some of them have also built cabins made of stone and wood. They grow beans and corn and raise various types of livestock. Many of the Tarahumara also support themselves through local tourism. The El Chepe, which is the train that brings visitors to Copper Canyon makes many stops along the way at Tarahumara villages. This allows the local people to sell various items to tourists.
How to get to Copper Canyon, Mexico
The above Copper Canyon, Mexico, map notes that Copper Canyon is located at 27.5281 N and 107.4561 W, about 600 miles from the southern border of Mexico.
While driving to Copper Canyon is an option, few people take that option. The most common way to get to Copper Canyon is by train. The El Chepe train has been in service since 1961. It starts in Ciudad Chihuahua and allows you to choose from two destinations. Posada Barrancas and Posada are both located close to Copper Canyon and offer amenities such as hotels, restaurants, museum, and tourism offices.
Ciudad Chihuahua has an airport, but it is very small, and you will not find any commercial flights going to that location. Even if you can afford to take a private plane, you would be missing out on all the beautiful nature that the train allows you to enjoy. In fact, El Chepe received an award in 2005 recognizing the line as one of the top 10 best train trips in the world.
There is another option which has become popular over the past decade with the arrival of the area's many tourism businesses. Staying in cities close to the border such as Ciudad Juarez or Laredo allow for visitors to enjoy a vacation in the states. They can then take a bus on the local Omnibus Mexicanos bus line to reach Ciudad Chihuahua.
Mexico's Copper Canyon accommodations
There is no shortage of accommodations near Mexico's Copper Canyon. The local town of Ciudad Chihuahua has dozens of choices for tourists regardless of your budget. You can find small hotels for as little as $50 a night, or all-inclusive resorts that include activities such as day tours, horseback riding, and hikes. Because of Ciudad Chihuahua's close location to Copper Canyon, many of the rooms have a view of the Canyon, regardless of price.
If you are planning your trip to Copper Canyon as an employee outing, staying at an all-inclusive resort is probably going to be your best bet. This will allow you to cover all of your employee's rooms, meals, and activities quite easily.
Mexico's Copper Canyon food
The area's around Copper Canyon offer a wide range of restaurant choices. While many of the restaurants serve local cuisine, you will find that the larger hotels have restaurants with both Mexican and international options. Keep in mind that meals aren't included if traveling by train. The train does have a restaurant on board though. You also have the option of bringing your own food while you travel.
Mexico's Copper Canyon Attractions, Activities, and Museums
There are many interesting things for your clients or employees to do in and around Copper Canyon. Although the canyons themselves are a wondrous sight to see, there are a few hidden gems you won't want to miss.
Basaseachi Falls, which is located at the head of Candamena Canyon, is the second tallest waterfall in Mexico. You can view it from different walking trails in the area. Cusarare Falls is another popular waterfall in the area. It has a 100-foot drop into the Urique River.
If you are looking to hit as many popular spots as possible, then you will want to visit the nearby hot springs. The Recowata Hot Springs is located a short hike from Cusarare Falls. The spring is at the bottom of the Tararecua Canyon. You can reach the hot spring by bike, horseback, car, or on foot.
If you are looking to take a break from the outdoors, then you will want to visit the area's two museums. The Casa y Museo de Artesanias de Creel is located at Creel's main plaza. The museum has a collection of arts and crafts made by the Tarahumara. A few miles from there you can visit the Museo Loyola in Casarare Loyola Museum. Housed in a building from 1741, it is home to many pieces of art from popular Mexican artists. In addition to that, you can also find a collection of religious works of art dating from the 1500-1700s.
Fun for the children
If you have a client that is traveling with children, or you are planning a family employee trip, then you should visit Parque de Aventura. Parque de Aventura is an outdoor theme park which offers activities for the entire family. They have exciting things such as zip lining and a wooden aerial forest bridge as well as mini golf and indoor rock climbing. They also have a cable car that carries you over the Barranca de Urique canyon. This means you'll be sitting almost 6,200 feet above its lowest point!
Copper Canyon, Mexico Tours
There are many choices of tours for Mexico's Copper Canyon. If you are looking for a short fun trip for a client or your employees, then El Chepe is a good choice. The round trip takes a total of 32 hours and allows you to view some amazing sites along the way. If you are planning on staying in the area, then you have so very many options from which to choose.
Hiking, biking, and riding tours
If your business is close to the town of Chihuahua, then you will have your pick of many kinds of tours to suggest to clients and employees. Some of the most common tours are hiking, biking, and horseback riding.
Most of the local hotels and tourism companies offer different guided hiking tours. Some of these may be more difficult than others, so make sure to check beforehand and make sure that you are picking the right level for you. If biking is more your thing, then you'll be happy to know that bikes have become a popular way to explore areas of Copper Canyon.
You can rent bikes from local companies or check with your hotel and see if they have any on hand. If you want to get around like some of the locals, then look into a horseback riding tour. Some hotels offer this service. Chances are you will have to find a local company to explore the area on horseback.
Rafting and rock climbing
Rafting and rock climbing are also popular types of tours in the area. It won't be hard for you to find a local tour company that offers whitewater rafting trips down one of the many rivers. If you are want to view the canyon from up above, Mexico's Copper Canyon has the best rock climbing in Mexico. Many of the local companies have rock climbing guides and equipment for hire.
Mexico's Copper Canyon Safety
Regardless of which activities your clients or employees decide to participate in at Copper Canyon, make sure they always put safety first. Encourage them to listen to everything the guides tell them and adhere to all the posted rules and warnings.