Copper Canyon in Mexico (Spanish: Barranca del Cobre) is a group of canyons larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States. The canyons were formed by six rivers which 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 Sea of Cortez. The walls of the canyon are a copper/green color which is where the name originates.
Travels were booked through Caravan Tours (although they no longer go to Copper Canyon due to the unrest in central Mexico)
Tarahumara Indians inhabit Copper Canyon. Most still practice a traditional lifestyle, living in natural shelters such as caves or cliff overhangs, as well as small cabins of wood, stone and whatever material they can salvage. Staple crops are corn and beans while many raise cattle, sheep, and goats.
Almost everywhere in the Copper Canyon area you will find Tarahumara woman weaving baskets from material gathered within the canyon -- sotol and yucca plants interspersed with long pine needles from the Apache or Chihuahua Pine. You will generally see the young girls selling baskets and multi-colored woven shawls in towns and train depots.
El Fuerte, Mexico where we disembarked the train to stay at the Hotel La Posada for 2 nights (a National Historic Site). We had time to walk around this quaint town, explore the central park area and take a float trip on the El Fuerte River before embarking on the train for our return trip through Copper Canyon. In 2007, this was the only tour group that offered the train ride in both directions.
The city was founded in 1563 by Spanish conquistador, the first explorers of the lofty Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. In 1610 a fort was built to ward off the Spanish enemies.
For years, El Fuerte served as the gateway to the vast frontiers of the northern native-held territories of Mexico, Arizona and California. For three centuries it was the most important commercial and agricultural center, and a chief trading post for silver miners and gold seekers.