Explore The northwest and Copper Canyon
Divided from Baja California by the Sea of Cortés, Mexico’s northwest mainland is something of a bizarre – and initially uninviting – introduction to the country. At once fertile, wealthy and heavily Americanized, in parts it is also strikingly impoverished, drab and barren. The climate’s not exactly welcoming, either – summer temperatures can hit 50°C (122°F), while winter nights in the desert drop to freezing levels. Indeed, it’s the extraordinary desert scenery that first grabs your attention, and as you continue south through the states of Sonora and Sinaloa, the desert becomes rockier, which, along with the huge cacti, makes for some archetypal Mexican landscapes.
Travellers who choose to enter Mexico here tend to stick rigidly to the highway all the way to Tepic. On the whole, the best advice is to push through the northern part, perhaps stopping at the shrimping port and burgeoning resort of Puerto Peñasco, or at the quieter beaches in Bahía de Kino and San Carlos. You should definitely visit Álamos, once a silver-mining city and now a charming retreat for expats and artists, or El Fuerte, a colonial town rich in history. Continuing down the highway you’ll pass through Los Mochis, gateway to the region’s principal natural attraction, the Sierra Tarahumara. Wonderfully wild, pristine and remote, the sierra conceals six dizzying chasms known collectively as the Barranca del Cobre (or Copper Canyon). Mexico’s last surviving passenger train, nicknamed “El Chepe”, steers a phenomenal course around its rim – one of the world’s ultimate train rides.
South of Los Mochis you cross the Tropic of Cancer, and here you begin to come across resorts that can be regarded as destinations in their own right, including Mazatlán with its wealth of beaches, bars and fine seafood restaurants, and San Blas, a small, friendly town surrounded by steamy jungles and peaceful strips of sand.Read More