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|Native name||Barrancas del Cobre (Spanish)|
|Location||Sierra Madre Occidental|
Copper Canyon (Spanish: Barrancas del Cobre) is a group of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua in northwestern Mexico. The canyons were formed by six rivers that drain the western side of the Sierra Tarahumara (a part of the Sierra Madre Occidental). All six rivers merge into the Rio Fuerte and empty into the Gulf of California. The walls of the canyonare a copper/green color, which is the origin of the name.
The New Spanish arrived in the Copper Canyon area in the 17th century and encountered the indigenous locals throughout Chihuahua. For the New Spanish, America was a new land to explore for gold and silver and also to spread Christianity. The New Spanish named the people they encountered "Tarahumara", derived from the word Rarámuri, which is what the indigenous people call their men. Some scholars theorize that this word may mean 'The running people'. During the 17th century, silver was discovered by the Hispanic in the land of the Tarahumara tribe. Some were enslaved for mining efforts. There were small uprisings by the Tarahumara, but to little avail. They eventually were forced off the more desirable lands and up into the canyon cliffs.
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The alpine climate of the mountainous regions of Copper Canyon has moderate temperatures from October to November and March to April. The bottom of the canyons are humid and warm[ vague ] and remain that way throughout the year. During the warmest months, April through June, drought is a chronic problem with little rainfall until July when the rainy season begins.
The Sierra Tarahumara Occidental region contains numerous species of pine and oak trees. Mexican Douglas-fir ( Pseudotsuga lindleyana ) trees cover the high plateaus in altitudes over 8,000 feet (2,400 m), but due to deforestation in the area, many species of wildlife are endangered. Cougars live in the remotest of regions and are rarely seen. After the summer rainy season these upper regions blossom with wildflowers until October.
From 4,000–8,000 feet (1,200–2,400 m), oak trees grow in the huge forests as well as the more shade-tolerant types of trees. In the fall the forests become brilliant with color from Andean alder ( Alnus acuminata ) and poplar ( Populus spp.) trees. Brushwood and scrubby trees grow on the canyon slopes, which can accommodate the dry season. Huge fig ( Ficus spp.) and palm trees thrive at the bottom where water is plentiful and the climate is tropical.
Due to increases in human population, there are many threats to the ecosystems of the Sierra Tarahumara Occidental region. The government funding to build a "tourist friendly" atmosphere poses threats to the environment and indigenous cultures. Roads have been built in the former isolated mountainous zones. Agriculture and grazing as well as the cutting of hardwoods and other trees for firewood has accelerated a soil erosion problem. Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) and desert ironwood ( Olneya tesota ) trees are cut and exported primarily to the U.S. for charcoal. Amapa ( Tabebuia chrysantha ) trees yield highly prized lumber for building and furniture making. Other trees are also cut and sold for their high-priced lumber. Over-harvesting of the forests in the area has caused the extinction of the imperial woodpecker and Mexican wolf. Approximately, two percent of the original old-growth forest remains.[ citation needed ] However, a massive forest-harvesting project in the region has been abandoned, for now, by the World Bank. The Mexican forestry department deemed these species of trees "legally protected," but enforcement is difficult.
The government has taken measures to halt or slow down the cultivation of opium poppies and cannabis by spraying crops with herbicides, which threaten the populations of many different species. A large saturniid moth, Rothschildia cincta, are one of the species that are threatened by the spraying. Their cocoons are used by the native population for ceremonial purposes.
Open-pit mining for copper, gold and other metals not only produces air pollution from smelters, but has been linked to the serious decline of the Tarahumara frog ( Rana tarahumarae ). Every river system has been dammed causing fresh water shortages in nearby desert communities. An enormous dam is being constructed on the Rio Fuerte, which poses major environmental problems and may lead to massive losses of tropical forest and habitats.
Conservation is underway, but remains informal and slow. Mexico has environmental laws, but suffers from lack of financial resources. Enforcement has been lax or non-existent. Agencies are actively trying to increase the protection for natural preserves.[ citation needed ]
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Copper Canyon traditional inhabitants are the Tarahumara or Rarámuri. With no official census, the population of the Rarámuri people probably ranges between 35,000 and 70,000. Many Rarámuri reside in the cooler, mountainous regions during the hot summer months and migrate deeper into the canyons in the cooler winter months, where the climate is more temperate. Their survival strategies have been to occupy areas that are too remote for city people, way off-the-beaten-path to remain isolated and independent so as to avoid losing their culture.
Tourism is a growing industry for Copper Canyon, but the acceptance of it is debated in the local communities. Some communities accept government funding for building roads, restaurants and lodging to make the area attractive for tourists. Many other groups of Rarámuri maintain their independence by living in areas that are as far away from city life as possible. Their way of life is protected by the mountainous landscape.[ citation needed ]
Their diet is largely domestic agrarian but does consist of meat from domesticated cows, chickens and goats, wild game and freshwater fish. Corn (maize) is the most important staple of the Rarámuri's diet.
The Rarámuri people are known for their endurance running. Living in the canyons, they travel great vertical distances, which they often do by running nonstop for hours. A popular Rarámuri community race called rarajipari, is played by kicking a wooden ball along the paths of the steep canyons.
There are many other ways to explore Copper Canyon such as hiking, biking, driving or horseback riding. The most popular way is by train, as the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico or ChePe, runs along the main canyon called Canyon Urique, between Chihuahua and Los Mochis, on the Gulf of California.
The Chihuahua al Pacifico began in the late 19th century. The revolution, lack of funding, and the overall difficulty of building a railroad over such terrain hindered its completion until 1961. The railroad comprises 405 miles of rails with 39 bridges and 86 tunnels. The total trip takes approximately 15 hours and passes through towns, as well as the towering cliffs of the canyons. Along the railway, many Tarahumarans lay out their food, crafts and other wares for sale.
Mexico established the Parque Nacional Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon National Park) to showcase this remote area. The park is located in the municipalities of Batopilas, Bocoyna, Guachochi, and Urique.
The Basaseachic Falls National Park around the Basaseachic Falls is located within the canyon area.
Among the villages located in or on the Copper Canyon are:
Copper Canyon was featured on Season 1 Episode 12, of Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel, on Raramuri Tale,
The nonfiction book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, chronicling the story of ultra-runner Micah True in the Copper Canyon with the Tarahumara Indians, who taught him a better way to run. 50 miles (80 km) of single track trail and dirt road.True was the race director of the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, which ends in Urique's plaza. The race covers
Basaseachic Falls on the Basaseachic River is the second-highest waterfall in Mexico, located in the Parque Nacional Basaseachic at Cañón Basaseachic in the Copper Canyon region of northwest Mexico, near Creel, Chihuahua. It is 246 meters (807 ft) tall, second in Mexico only to the Cascada de Piedra Volada.
The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are a group of indigenous people of the Americas living in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. They are renowned for their long-distance running ability.
The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico, also known as El Chepe from its reporting mark CHP, or Ferrocarril Chihuahua-Pacífico, is a major rail line in northwest Mexico, linking Chihuahua City, to Los Mochis and its port, Topolobampo. It runs 673 km (418 mi), traversing the Copper Canyon, a rugged series of canyons that have led some to call this the most scenic railroad trip on the continent. It is both an important transportation system for locals and a draw for tourists.
El Fuerte is a city and El Fuerte Municipality its surrounding municipality in the northwestern Mexican state of Sinaloa. The city population reported in the 2010 census were 12,566 people.
Creel is a town in the Sierra Tarahumara of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is the second-largest town in the municipality of Bocoyna. It is located some 175 kilometres (109 mi) to the southwest of the state capital, Chihuahua City. At the census of 2010, it had a population of 5,026, down from 5,338 as of 2005. It is notable for being inhabited mostly by native Americans of the Rarámuri ethnic group, and the use of their native language is widespread in the population in daily life and public events such as church masses.
The Sierra Madre Occidental is a major mountain range system of the North American Cordillera, that runs northwest–southeast through northwestern and western Mexico, and along the Gulf of California. The Sierra Madre is part of the American Cordillera, a chain of mountain ranges (cordillera) that consists of an almost continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western 'backbone' of North America, Central America, South America and West Antarctica.
The Fuerte River is a river in the state of Sinaloa, in northwestern Mexico. It flows from headwaters in the Sierra Madre Occidental to the Pacific Ocean in the Gulf of California.
The Sierra Madre Occidental pine–oak forests are a subtropical coniferous forest ecoregion of the Sierra Madre Occidental range from the southwest USA region to the western part of Mexico. They are home to a large number of endemic plants and important habitat for wildlife.
Batopilas is a small town, and seat of the surrounding municipality of the same name, in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, located along the Río Batopilas at the bottom of the Batopilas canyon, part of the Copper Canyon. As of 2010, the town of Batopilas had a population of 1,220. Its elevation above sea level is 578 metres (1,896 ft). The town is situated in a narrow valley, bordered by steep canyon walls. The government of Mexico declared it a Pueblo Mágico on October 19, 2012.
Piedra Volada Falls is a 366-meter tall plunge waterfall in the Barranca Candameña of the Sierra Madre Occidental range in Chihuahua, Mexico.
The Tarahumara language is a Mexican indigenous language of the Uto-Aztecan language family spoken by around 70,000 Tarahumara (Rarámuri/Ralámuli) people in the state of Chihuahua, according to an estimate by the government of Mexico.
Fraxinus velutina, the velvet ash, Arizona ash or Modesto ash, is a species of Fraxinus native to southwestern North America, in the United States from southern California east to Texas, and in Mexico from northern Baja California east to Coahuila and Nuevo León.
Federal Highway 24 is a free part of the federal highways corridors. Fed. 24 is intended to cross the Sierra Madre Occidental from the area of Hidalgo del Parral, Chihuahua, on the east, to the area of Culiacán, Sinaloa, on the west. A limited central section of about 40 to 50 km is not yet completed or graded. This section lies between the villages of Los Frailes, Durango, on the east, and Soyatita, Sinaloa, on the west. Travel is possible through this area, where the road is not yet completed, on unimproved roads using high clearance two-wheel drive vehicles. The two unconnected segments that extend through Los Frailes and Soyatita are graded, but each segment is unpaved for about the last 75 km. The central gap in the highway is in the rugged mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental. This uncompleted and unpaved portion of the road is not well signed, there are many intersections with other unimproved roads, and it is easy to get lost off the intended route of the highway. As noted later, getting lost may not be a safe proposition. Further, the unfinished segment on the west is at about 820 meters elevation at Soyatita. Just outside Los Frailes, the road coming from the east is at 2,750 meters elevation. The traveler crossing this gap will have to negotiate this dramatic change in elevation traveling a good deal of the way on unimproved dirt roads. Travel times in this central section can be quite slow.
Chihuahua, officially the Estado Libre y Soberano de Chihuahua, is one of the 32 states which comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Northwestern Mexico and is bordered by the states of Sonora to the west, Sinaloa to the southwest, Durango to the south, and Coahuila to the east. To the north and northeast, it has a long border with the U.S. adjacent to the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. Its capital city is Chihuahua City.
Basaseachic Falls National Park is a national park located in the western side of the state of Chihuahua in the heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The park is named after Basaseachic Falls the second tallest waterfall in Mexico with a height of 246 meters (853 ft). Basaseachic Falls empties into Candameña Canyon which was carved by the Basaseachic River over millions of years. The park is known for its pine-oak forest, rock formations, and scenic views from high cliffs. Cliffs in the park reach an impressive height of 1,640 meters (5,380 ft).
Frangula betulifolia, the birchleaf buckthorn, is a shrub or small tree in the buckthorn family, Rhamnaceae. It is native in northern Mexico in the Sierra Madre Occidental cordillera, and mountainous, desert regions of the Southwestern United States of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and far west Texas; besides being found in Sonora, Chihuahua and Durango of the Occidental cordillera, a large species locale occurs to the east in Nuevo León.
The Pajarito Mountains ia a small mountain range of western Santa Cruz County, Arizona, United States, that extend south into Sonora, Mexico. The range is adjacent the Atascosa Mountains at its north, with both ranges in the center of a north-south sequence of ranges called the Tumacacori Highlands. The Highlands have the Tumacacori Mountains at the north, and south of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Sierra La Esmeralda range,. The Tumacacori Highlands are part of a regional conservancy study of 'travel corridors' for cats, called Cuatro Gatos, Four Cats, for mountain lions, ocelot, bobcat, and jaguar.
Cueva de la Momia is an archaeological site located in the region of Ciudad Madera, in the Sirupa Canyon region, northwest of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It is located at the foot of a very high cliff on the ravine of the Arroyo del Venado, shortly before it joins the Rio Chico; in the vicinity of the Huápoca Canyon, is a series of caves where a number of mummies were found.
Huápoca is an archaeological site located 36 kilometers west of Ciudad Madera, in the Huápoca Canyon region, northwest of the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
The Ultra Maratón Caballo Blanco is a 50-mile ultramarathon held annually in the town of Urique, in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Copper Canyon .|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Copper Canyon .|
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