COPPER CANYON (CON'T)                                                                                

19 train.jpg (66016 bytes)


The following morning, we were given the good news that the train was back on track. We headed for the train station, uncertain when the train would actually leave as it hadn't ever been on time in over 30 years!

The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad, with construction beginning in 1898 and being completed in 1961, brought world wide attention to this last Mexican frontier. The railroad is one of the engineering wonders of the world with 99 tunnels and 37 bridges along its 941 km route. The longest bridge is 1 1/2 km, and the highest is 90 meters.

19d.jpg (36935 bytes)19e.jpg (23120 bytes)19f.jpg (26805 bytes)19c.jpg (41033 bytes)The region's geological splendor is remarkable. The Sierra Tarahumara is in fact a maze of 200 gorges which combine to form a series of six massive, interconnected canyons, or barrancas.

19b.jpg (31126 bytes)19g.jpg (31618 bytes)
This canyon system is four times larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States. Four of its six canyons are deeper than the Grand - some by over 1,000 feet.

The vast deposits of minerals, including copper, gives the strata of the rock  a colourful texture and interesting formations. An incredible variety of ecosystems further distinguish the region. Highlands are home to snow-covered mountain peaks, sparkling lakes, and enormous stands of old-growth Ponderosa pine and oak. The area's plunging gorges sprout wild rives, towering waterfalls and sub-tropical forests. Semi-arid coastal plains to the west support large sugar cane and rich vegetable farms.

19h.jpg (31899 bytes)19i.jpg (31774 bytes)The average altitude here is 2275 meters above sea level, while the highest point is 3306 meters above sea level. Volcanic activity gave rise to the great geological faults which provoked fractures in the earth's crust creating deep cracks. The result of millions of years of evolution is the great systems of these canyons.

A notable feature of this railroad is the train looping over itself, and a 180° turn inside solid rock. It took 90 years & $90,000,000 to complete.

20 view-from-train.jpg (43471 bytes)21 train-tracks.jpg (50445 bytes)

We arrived at Posada Barrancas, amidst snow on the ground, and checked into the Mirador Hotel. This Spanish style hotel clings to the side of the canyon boasting a magnificent view.23 mirador-hotel-2.jpg (32850 bytes)

This is the view that we saw from the lobby of the hotel. A rainbow plunging into the cold canyon depths was an unexpected treat.

25 copper-canyon-rainbow.jpg (67701 bytes)24 hotel-mirador.jpg (54271 bytes)23a cc-view-from-hotel-gord.jpg (19187 bytes)

26 cc-view-from-room.jpg (29676 bytes)32 cc-ma-and-pa.jpg (54274 bytes)Our rooms were spacious and each had a private terrace overlooking the canyon.

28 trail-to-chimo-caves.jpg (110087 bytes)

We walked down a stone path to the Chino Caves, a Tarahumara Indian village clinging to the side of the rock.

29 chimo-caves-casas.jpg (35821 bytes)30 tarrahumara-kids2.jpg (50017 bytes)Tiny dirty dwellings housed whole families who scratched their living from the canyon. A small child finds warmth from her dog.

Tarahumara families still use caves for habitation and construct houses, grain stores and pens inside.

They keep warm at night by heating the stone walls behind their dwellings with fires burning during the day.

33 tarrahumara-kids.jpg (65714 bytes)34 baskets-on-cliff.jpg (52989 bytes)39 making-baskets.jpg (68022 bytes)41 copper06.jpg (22389 bytes)The Tarahumara are known for their basket weaving and women and children are everywhere selling their wares

We took a tour by van into Divisadero where the Tarahumara Indians traveled many miles through the snow in their sandals to sell their baskets.

37 balancing rock.jpg (28092 bytes)40 tarrahumera-children.jpg (67586 bytes)The Tarahumara (Raramuri, as they called themselves) Indian culture are semi-nomadic people number around 50,000, many are predominately cliff and cave dwellers seeking out a meager substance from simple farming, ranching, and handicrafts.

Men are noted for their remarkable running ability, competing in grueling races that stretch non-stop for over 100 miles at times.


35 cc-bob-and-gord.jpg (50928 bytes)The van stopped at some interesting vantage points where the views were awesome.

Left Bob & Gord. Right Ginny & Dad


36 cc-Gin-and-dad.jpg (33217 bytes)

When it was time to leave the hotel and catch the train, no one seemed particularly concerned about getting us to the train station on time. The comment we heard was "The train has not been on time in 30 years!" So we were quite alarmed when we heard the train whistle and scrambled to get into a van, while our luggage was quickly thrown into a pickup truck. We raced down the slippery snowy dirt road and managed to arrive just as we could see the train rounding the bend about a mile down the track. But the truck with our luggage did not follow. Apparently, the truck had rolled off the road and our suitcases were scattered in the ditch and strewn down the hill. The van drove back to retrieved our luggage and made a very speedy beeline for the train station, with the train bearing down the track between us. It was a race to beat the train across the tracks and our luggage arrived with no more than a second to spare.

50 dinner-on-train.jpg (36637 bytes) Back on the train, we had a meal in the dining car and we arrived Los Mochis late that evening. From there, we took a bus back to Mazatlan in the morning.

Slideshow of  Copper Canyon     PHOTO ALBUM OF MEXICO