Huatulco Life was inspired by people with a passion for Huatulco and the Mexican lifestyle. It is a place to find out more information about the region and enjoy the beauty of the Oaxacan coastline through the photo gallery. From time to time, other interesting tidbits about Mexico make their way into the pages of this blog. Enjoy!

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Barrancas del Cobre

Today's post is another great example of the diversity of geography in Mexico.  We rarely hear of this great canyon, but it certainly deserves more attention than it receives.

The Barrancas del Cobre or Copper Canyon in English, is an area in the state of Chihuahua that holds 6 dramatic canyons greater in size than the Grand Canyon of the United States.

The entire canyon system is larger than the Grand Canyon and in some parts deeper also.  The canyon was formed by six rivers cutting a path through the soft sandstone.  It is part of the Sierra Tarahumara, and the river system drains it's western end and merges into the Rio Fuerte and eventually the Sea of Cortez.

The Spanish arrived in the Copper Canyon area in the 17th century and were greeted by the indigenous people of Chihuahua, the Tarahumara, which is believed to mean "The Running People". The Spanish explored this land for silver and gold, and enslaved some of the local people for mining purposes.  They were eventually forced off of the more desirable lands and up into the canyon cliffs.

Today, the population of the Tarahumara people ranges between 35,000 to 70,000. Many Tarahumara reside in the cooler, mountainous regions during the hot summer months and migrate deeper into the canyons in the cooler winter months, where the climate is more temperate. Their survival strategies have been to occupy areas that are too remote for city people, way off-the-beaten-path, to remain isolated and independent, so as to avoid losing their culture.

The Tarahumara people are known for their endurance running. Living in the canyons, they travel great vertical distances, which they often do by running nonstop for hours. A popular Tarahumara community race called “Rarahipa,” is played by kicking a wooden ball along the paths of the steep canyons.

Piedra Volada Waterfall - Click Photo for  Larger View
The tallest waterfall in Mexico can also be found here in the Barrancas del Cobre, it's called Piedra Volada and stands at a height of 1,486 feet.  As there are very distinct dry and rainy seasons in the Copper Canyon, the months between April and June see the falls dry up to a mere trickle, if there is anything at all.  

Tourism is growing slowly in this region and several companies offer guided excursions into the canyons as part of a greater railway tour through the Barrancas del Cobre.


  1. Thanks.... I recommend a great little book about the Taramuhara and running... Born to Run by Scott Jurek. Made me want to spend some time in the canyon.

  2. I have this book on my wish list for the iPad.