Chihuahua is the largest state in Mexico, with a northern border stretching along Texas and New Mexico in the United States. The most exciting tourist attractions in this state of approximately 3 million inhabitants are found in the majestic terrain and spectacular canyons of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. The magnificent Sierra Madre dominates the western part of the state, overshadowing the North Central Plateau on its eastern side.
The Sierra Madre mountain range is home to the state's greatest attraction – Las Barrancas del Cobre, aka Copper Canyon –, a dramatic canyon system larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Located within Copper Canyon is the Basaseachic Falls National Park, where you can participate in camping, hiking, bird-watching, mountain biking, rock climbing, rappelling, caving, kayaking, swimming, and a host of other fantastic activities.
The park’s Basaseachic Waterfall along the Basaseachic River is really something to behold. With a height of 310 meters it is the second highest falls in Mexico and is truly one of the country’s grandest natural wonders. (The highest waterfall is Cascada de Piedra Volada, which only flows seasonally; Basaseachic cascades year-round.)
The Chihuahua-Pacifico train, which travels between Los Mochis and Chihuahua City, is the most popular way to see the canyons and quaint villages of Chihuahua. Hop aboard to view the spectacular landscape of beautiful rock formations and stunning waterfalls. Stop along the way to connect with native people who may offer you a handmade basket or doll to keep as a souvenir.
Use the canyon’s nearby towns as a base for activities and guided tours, taking in all the uniqueness they have to offer, and plan a vacation full of exciting activities!
Los Mochis is considered a great place to board the Chihuahua-Pacifico railway to take in all the scenery of Copper Canyon. Los Mochis’ other interesting attractions are its Topolobambo Bay tours for bird-watching and observing playful dolphins, and its Isla del Farallón tours of bird-watching, observing sea lions, or offshore fishing excursions.
The little village of Creel is very important because it is a jumping off point for tours (on your own or guided) throughout the Copper Canyon. In Creel, you can hire a guide to take you to the scenic canyon’s hot springs, rivers, and waterfalls, to bask in the stunning landscape or participate in a variety of adventure sports, such as kayaking, rappelling, and rock climbing. Creel is becoming increasingly popular as an international venue for staging rappelling, rock climbing, and mountain bike expeditions.
If you want to go it alone, here you can also rent horses, mountain bikes, scooters, and trucks provided with free maps, travel information, and sometimes, even lunch.
A Chihuahua-Pacifico railway station is located in Creel, where passengers travel on through the magnificent Copper Canyon to Batopilas. In Batopilas, travelers are treated to unforgettable views of the world's most beautiful and spectacular ravines from the Las Piedras Lookout. Here you can also visit the Neo-Gothic-Style Tarahumara Jesuit Mission or catch transportation service to the ravines.
Chihuahua City is the capital of Chihuahua state and has much to offer visitors. Attractions include beautiful ancient architecture, such as the Government Palace and City Hall, and then there is the spectacular Metropolitan Cathedral and the Plaza de Armaz that you really must see. The city is also home to the Regional State Museum, which, among many other gems, exhibits beautiful ceramics with geometric patterns found at the archeological site of Paquime.
Ciudad Juárez is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and one of great importance to Mexico mainly due to its more than 300 maquiladoras (assembly plants for products outside the region) industry. While an largely an industrial city, there are many interesting and exciting attractions to enjoy here, including bullfights, horse races, greyhound races, and car races, Charro (cowboy or rodeo) shows, and golf.
Don’t miss the city’s Archaeology Museum, or the 17th century Misión de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. And skateboarders take note: Juarez is also home to Parque Xtremo, the largest skateboarding park in Latin America!
About 20 km east of Ciudad Juarez is El Sauzal, where you can view a real petrified forest! The areas trees were covered with sand and converted into stone by salts. An interesting side note is that the remains of a mammoth were found here in 1969.
Coyame is famous for its mineral springs and for the amazing Coyame Caverns with its 15 rooms of stalactite and stalagmite and formations. Here visitors enjoy fishing in the Conchos River and hunting in the surrounding areas. And don’t miss the nearby Peguis Lookout for spectacular views of the canyon and the beautiful cascading river below!
Cueva de Leones was once a sawmill site, but it is now a main tourist attraction managed by a mere 11 people. Within this tourist center, surrounded by rock formations and tall trees, you can rent one of its 12 tin-roofed cabins; tour a cave that used to be a night club, meander the mountain paths to nearby cascades, or visit the town of Creel for handcrafted souvenirs or to join one of Creel’s many tourist excursions.
The small, lake-side community of San Ignacio de Arareko, located 8 km south of Creel, is nestled next to the beautiful valleys, lagoons, and waterfalls of the Tarahumara mountain range. At its beautiful lake you can engage in numerous water activities, rent boats, and go fishing.
Here you can also rent horses, mountain bikes, and experienced guides for touring the mountain range. Enjoy swimming and other water sports in the Arareko lagoon, admire the beautiful Batosarachi waterfall, and perhaps stand agape in Valley Alley where you observe such sites as the Valley of the Gods, the Valley of Mushrooms, the Valley of Breasts, and others.
Paraiso Peñitas is home to the Hostales Paraiso Madera Peñitas tourist compound which stretches across six hectares and is owned by women, 43 of them, who run the tourist center. Here you can rent cabins, fish in the waters of the Peñitas Dam, or visit the neighboring village of Madera.
Madera has many rustic, “Old West” type buildings, yet still has somewhat of a colonial aura with its pretty San Pedro Cathedral, cafes with superb local fare, stores with handcrafted goods, and a museum to offer its visitors.
Other impressive attractions include nearby haciendas, such as Sirupa or San Jose de Babicora, the Cuarenta Casas archaeological zone, as well as a series of five caves, all located in the cliffs along the El Garabato river. The most important cave is the La Cueva de las Ventanas, which is home to the "pinineos" (short indigenous people), and features doors no more than a meter high.
Santa Rosalía de Camargo is a colonial town steeped in history with a number of natural attractions to offer its visitors, including Colina Lake where you can take in waters sport activities, such as water skiing, jet skiing, and boating. Nearby you can find places to soak in healing thermal water pools.
Near Nuevo Casa Grandes in northern Chihuahua is the Valley of the Caves, which contains many archaeological cave sites. Two caves of particular interest are Cueva de la Golondrina (Swallow Cave) and Cueva de la Olla (Cave of the Pot). Camping sites are available along the Casa Grandes River.
Nuevo Casa Grandes is also where tourists can find the archeological ruins of Casas Grandes Paquime (Large Houses). An interesting note about this site is that, according to anthropologists, current native tribes (Yaqui, Mayo, Opata, and Tarahumara) are descendants of the Casas Grandes culture.
If you relish the great outdoors, are an adventure sport enthusiast, or love the majestic landscape that is only found in the mountains, you are going to enjoy Chihuahua!