Mexico is well known for its beaches, Mayan ruins, and of course, its sumptuous gastronomy. We cannot deny those are some of the most popular reasons to visit Mexico, but this country offers much more than sun-kissed coastal destinations. If you are an adventurous traveler who seeks to find uncommon destinations, the Copper Canyon is ideal for you, and we have five reasons to prove it.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Located in the northwest state of Chihuahua, Mexico, it is often compared to the Grand Canyon, but let us say this canyon is a network of six separate canyons that combined are several times larger than its northern neighbor. Named by UNESCO as a world heritage site due to its long history as a trade route, over 300 years ago, the course was mainly used for transporting silver from the mines of southern states of Guanajuato, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi.
A Showcase of Mexico’s Biodiversity
When we say Mexico is biodiverse, we mean it. 10 to 12 percent of the world’s biodiversity has its home in this vast country. It ranks in the first five places for reptiles, mammals, amphibians, and flora. And the Copper Canyon is an excellent example of it; the network of canyons has different elevations and two climactic zones.
You can find a sub-tropical forest in the valleys and alpine climates in the highlands. Over 300 species of birds live here, along with pumas, otters, black bears, and even the rare Mexican wolf. Flora varies depending on the altitude; the cold temperatures of mountain peaks allow pine and oak forests to thrive. And the valley with a sub-tropical climate has a wide range of temperate plants.
El Chepe Railway
This nearly 30 million years old canyon stretches along 650km (390 miles), and it can be explored by car, bike, hiking, trekking, and even horseback riding, but the most popular way to see it all is by train. Known as El Chepe, this railway runs from Los Mochis, a coastal city in Sinaloa, to Chihuahua. The journey starts at sea level and will rise to 2,500 m (8,000 ft), crossing 39 bridges and 86 tunnels. All while you admire one of the rockiest terrains of Mexico, which is breathtaking. Taking the Chepe ride is an opportunity you should not miss; the ride itself will be a unique experience, and each stop along the way allows you to explore Mexican culture at its best.
You will Find Adventure
The Copper Canyon offers many opportunities to put your hiking, biking, and trekking skills to the test. The hiking trail from Cusarare to Divisadero takes 3 to 4 days. Within those 52 km, you can encounter the Cusarare falls and refresh yourself in a crystal-clear river, Rio San Ignacio. Another popular hike goes from Batopilas to Urique, and it is also 52 km long. The town of Creel is home to an annual cycling festival, which makes it the perfect spot to practice your biking. Just keep in mind the location is not suitable for beginners; here, you can find all types of trails, rocky desert, forest roads, single track, long and challenging climbs, and fast descents.
The Copper Canyon Adventure Park is a popular attraction where you can zip line in one of the longest ziplines in the world, reaching 35 km/h (84 mph). The Via Ferrata is another attraction where you will walk over suspension bridges, cross wires across the canyons, and make your way down a canyon wall. Finally, the most favorite attraction, the Aerial Tram, with a length of 2.73 km (1.69 miles).
It Offers Activities for Everyone
While the Copper Canyon does not sound like a destination to chill and enjoy, you will be pleasantly surprised, since unlike other Mexican destinations here, you will find yourself secluded and surrounded mainly by nature. The many towns scattered across the canyons offer accommodation and picturesque restaurants while keeping the essence of this magnificent place.
For travelers who are not into extreme sports, the area offers natural splendor, waterfalls, hot springs, and camping sites to relax and unwind in a place where nature rules over men. There is a perfect balance between development and natural preservation, and we are sure you will fall in love with this unique destination.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com