Copper Canyon is a place that many adventure riders talk about, but seemed too far off the map to me until now. So I’m happy to be able to go off the map literally and get to see it. The National Geographic map I bought in Arizona has so far shown straight roads where there are miles and miles of twists and curves. It has shown little to no topographic change in the area I’m riding, but all I’ve done is climb and descend one mountain after another for a few days now. I think it’s related to the scale of the map not allowing it to show all the detail, but I have to say I’m feeling a little unprepared, and maybe pleasantly surprised by it.
The Sierra Madre Occidental Mountains of western Mexico are hundreds of miles long and wide. A group of ranges in these mountains, called the Sierra Tarahumara, is where you can find my next destination. Somewhere in the middle of these mountains is a group of 6 large canyons that combined are roughly 6-7 times larger than the Grand Canyon. It’s so big you can ride around in it for days and never get a true appreciation for the scale of it all. You can’t get a good look at it to get true perspective for the scale of it all. There are narrow canyons by the dozens and several have rivers running through them, with water turned milky green by minerals.
At times I ride up and over a ridge and get a glimpse of the miles of mountains and canyons surrounding me.
Many people refer to several of the canyons and even this entire area as Copper Canyon because that canyon gave the National Park its name, but in fact Copper Canyon is the only one of the 6 great canyons here. I catch a glimpse of it on the road from Samachique to Batopilas. It’s a couple of ridges to the west of where I am but I can see it for a moment or two. My camera doesn’t capture the rich dark orange color of the canyon walls, but I can see it. The road to Batopilas is under construction and I can only go in about halfway before I run into trucks and heavy equipment and have to turn around.
I visit Candamena Canyon (where Basaseachic Falls is at) and Sinforosa Canyon, and they and others are all part of this same system.
It’s so different from Grand Canyon in that much of the canyon is covered with plants. I expected this to be a dry, desert area and am surprised by all the color.
There are narrow trails leading all along the spines of the ridges in the canyons that lead deep down into the bottoms. Hard to imagine making the climb in or out.
It’s an incredible place to see.