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Wagon Wheel Ranch


JUNE 2003


July 4th


 Prescott, AZ

JULY 2003


Copper Canyon


NOV 2003


Havasupi Canyon


APRIL 2004


Phantom Ranch

MAY 2005


 Take A Hike Calendar

Contact Us

Copper Canyon - Mexico

Nov 22 - 29, 2003 and Nov. 26 - Dec. 3, 2003

ITINERARY — 7 nights


DAY 1. 


RIO VISTA LODGE for 2 nights

You will be transferred from the Los Mochis airport to the 16th Century colonial town of El Fuerte and the picturesque RIO VISTA LODGE for 2 nights. From your panoramic hilltop setting, view the El Fuerte River and this 430-year-old cobbled-street settlement. Enjoy alfresco patio dining surrounded by flowering plants teeming with hummingbirds and an impressive array of majestic, native cacti. Stroll through the quintessential colonial plaza with its towering palms; browse the colorful local market; and view ornate architecture while learning of the past and present significance of this historic fort on the old “Camino Real.” All of the Spanish expeditions that settled California journeyed through El Fuerte, recruiting local residents who became valuable colonists with their mining, metal work, and construction abilities. Dinner features the regional specialty of fresh garlic-grilled bass & shrimp, with cerveza or wine.


About Copper Canyon


Copper Canyon remains today one of Mexico's best kept secrets. Until the late 1990s, few travelers had heard of Mexico's Copper Canyon, or could pinpoint its location, not far as the crow flies from Arizona.

This journey showcases not only one of the world's great engineering feats, but also some of the world's most awesome scenery and the most primitive aboriginal culture left in North America.  The region's geological splendor is truly remarkable. The name, "Copper Canyon" is used as a general reference to the Canyons, though copper was never mined in great quantities here. The term refers to the copper/green colored lichen that clings to the canyon walls.  A more proper name is "Sierra Tarahumara", and is in fact a maze of 200 gorges which combine to form a series of six massive, interconnected canyons, or barrancasCovering 25,000 square miles of northwest Mexico, the Sierra Tarahumara is a rugged landscape of interlaced canyons, rivers, waterfalls, caves, and Shangri-La-like valleys. The region is commonly known as the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon), though that canyon is only one of nine separate geological channels chiseled into an ancient volcanic landscape. This canyon system is four times larger than the Grand Canyon in the United States, and four of its six canyons are deeper than the Grand Canyon - some by almost 1,500 feet.

The Little Train That Could

The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway was an almost 100 year— $90 million labor project.  For 90+ years, entrepreneurs on both sides of the Sierra Tarahumara and internationally planned and raised money for an almost unthinkable engineering project - joining Los Mochis on the Sea of Cortez with the booming central plateau city of Chihuahua to the northeast. Interestingly, this route was not perceived as a tourist attraction until the late 1990s. Rather it was viewed as an economic lifeline through a region with insurmountable natural obstacles, and an opportunity to open up virgin mining and forestry territory. Thirty-seven bridges and 89 tunnels make this rail route one of the world's finest engineering projects. By the time the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad became a reality in 1961, this $90 million marvel was celebrated as a model of engineering genius by many, and dreaded by the indigenous people of the region as putting an end to their traditional solitary way of life.

The Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad carries riders from sea level to over 2,400 meters (8,000 feet) when traveling west from the agricultural city of Los Mochis, through coastal plains, up and over the Sierra Madre mountain range before descending to the city of Chihuahua 655 kms (393 miles) away.  El Chepe, as the train is nicknamed, boasts 37 major bridges and 89 tunnels along its 400-mile route, and  takes visitors through five climate zones of changing vegetation, past stunning rock formations and waterfalls, and even through a tunnel that does a 180-degree turn within a 95-foot elevation change—all in a 16-hour trip.

Wildlife is equally varied. 290 species migratory and indigenous birds, several large mammal species (bear, deer, large cats), and numerous reptiles (87 species) inhabit the area. Complimenting the area's awesome natural attractions is the equally interested Tarahumara (Raramuri, as they called themselves) Indian culture. These semi-nomadic people number around 50,000, many are predominately cliff and cave dwellers eking out a meager substance from simple farming, ranching, and handicrafts. Men are noted for their remarkable running ability, competing in grueling races that stretch non-stop for over 100 miles at times.

DAY 2.


Morning transfer to the river for a tranquil FLOAT [no white water] on the RIO FUERTE in a non-motorized boat with padded seats, life vests, and the guidance and natural history expertise of your guide. Identify the numerous exotic birds endemic to this unique tropical habitat, and stop along the shore to view extensive and well-preserved Nahuatl Petroglyphs and mining ruins. Hikers may trek back to the lodge via a tropical deciduous and giant cacti forest . Non-hikers will return the boat and continue on to the lodge from the river. Later embark on a COLONIAL TREK of El Fuerte, capital of the state of Sinaloa from 1824-26 and a vital banking and supply center for sierra mining towns during the massive silver boom, and  now the center for local agricultural interests. On a short walk to the town center, one discovers the Sacred Heart Church, the majestic palacio, and El Fuerte's quintessential Mexican plaza with its cast-iron kiosk, towering palm trees, park benches and manicured gardens. Exemplary of provincial colonial construction, the ornate architecture remains authentic and free from restoration affectations. This afternoon, enjoy surreal southwestern type vistas in the sierra foothills on a drive to the secluded village of CAPOMOS to observe a traditional MAYO INDIAN DANCE-OF-THE-DEER performance. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at lodge.


DAY 3.




Early morning transfer to depot for departure aboard the Chihuahua al Pacifico “CHEPE” train. The dramatic 8,000 foot ascent up the Pacific Palisades on the 110 mile odyssey (7:30AM - 11:35AM) into the Sierra Madre today provides optimum viewing on the most spectacular segment of railway, with 94 miles of fantastic bridges, tunnels and serpentines! From the depot, drive to the Gallego rim overlooking the Urique Canyon the deepest canyon in North America. After a gourmet picnic lunch, continue on your descent to the bottom of the deepest canyon in North America (by guided 4 mile hike or by guided drive) and the provincial mining town of Urique and the BARRANCAS DE URIQUE INN for 2 nights.


DAY 4.


Urique village has bougainvillea-covered adobe houses, orchards of oranges, mangos and guavas and horses, burros and pigs are a common sight on the main road. Enjoy a trek (5 - 8 miles) along the lush riparian habitat, one of the world's most biodiverse areas with many endemic animals and plants and across a suspended foot-bridge to a seldom visited Tarahumara Rancheria, Guadalupe Coronado. Non-hikers will enjoy a walk and van sightseeing to Guadalupe Coronado. Enjoy a gourmet picnic with a sierra background often alive with the squawking flocks of Military Macaws and Thick-billed Parrots You will be privileged to observe an authentic presentation of traditional dancing and ceremonial music with native violins, bamboo flutes and Tarahumara drums.


Important Details About Our Trip:

Our trip includes the following –

•  Operating Round Trip from El Fuerte with Los Mochis airport transfers

•  Bilingual Naturalist-trained Resident Guides in El Fuerte, Urique and Divisadero

•  Rio Vista Lodge in El Fuerte 3 nights (1st, 2nd & 7th)

•  Barrancas de Urique Inn at the bottom of Urique Canyon 2 nights (3rd & 4th)

•  Uno Lodge on the rim of Copper Canyon 2 nights (5th & 6th)

•  Group exclusivity at all lodges - no other guests

•  Chihuahua al Pacifico First Class Train Service, traversing only the most scenic routing of the railway: El Fuerte > Bahuichivo > San Rafael > El Fuerte

•  Welcome dinner with Musical trio

•  Tropical deciduous forest hike to Lake Hidalgo

•  Fuerte River Cruise and Nahautl Petroglyph site visit

•  Mayo Indian Ceremonial “Dance of the Deer” Presentation with Water Drum

•  Urique Canyon Descent Hike with Gourmet Picnic Lunch at rim

•  Rio Urique and Guadalupe Coronado Village Hike with Tarahumara Indian Ceremonial Dance and Music Presentation and Gourmet Picnic Lunch

•  Sierra Hike over a narrow canyon pass viewing unusual rock formations

•  Copper Canyon Descent Hike

•  Canyon Rim Hike to Mogollon style cave dwelling and Divisadero

•  All Meals – Delicious Regional Cuisine prepared from fresh ingredients.  Traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving

•  All Beverages – Bottled Water, Soft Drinks, Wine, Cerveza and 100% Agave Margaritas

•  All Transfers

•  All Admission Fees & Taxes

•  All Gratuities (includes $40 per person) - except for our personal guides

•  Detailed Trip Documents – personalized for our group, Includes 100 page color guidebook, 2 pullout maps, daily itinerary, travel tips, baggage tags, etc.

•  Special Features – Spotting Scopes, Field Reference Books, Fruit Baskets, Floral Arrangements, Table & Napkin Linens (also on picnic lunches), Terrycloth Robes, Cooler With Drinks & Snacks In Boat & Vans, Seasoned Peanuts & Popcorn Snacks Served With Drinks Before Dinner, Satellite Phone At Uno Lodge, 24 Hour U. S. Emergency Phone.


DAY 5.


UNO LODGE for 2 nights


Depart Urique in time to visit the mountain town of Cerocahui and the 17th Century gold domed Jesuit Mission church before your transfer to the depot for a brief train ride today (11:20am - 12:05pm). Hikers will load their gear onto the transfer vehicle and be escorted on a 6-mile hike of breathtaking scenery traversing the spine of the canyon. Non-hikers will drive. All will arrive at the Tarahumara owned UNO LODGE for 2 nights of privacy in a pristine natural setting with a view like few on the planet. From its lofty precipice, the Uno features the most panoramic lodge overlook with breathtaking and endless sierra landscapes of jagged erosion and the only mile deep vistas of the meandering river below.


DAY 6.




Non-hikers may enjoy short moderate walks to waterfalls and canyon overlooks or may embark on a day van trip to Cusarare, viewing Jesuit Missions, Arareco Lake and perhaps a bit of shopping at the mission store in Creel. No walking is required to  have a continuous view of the meandering Urique River 1-mile below. The tripod mounted powerful spotting scope is a very popular attraction in the dining area of the lodge. Hikers will experience, what has to be, one of the most outstanding day hikes in North America viewing voluminous quantities of volcanic rocks folded over older Cretaceous and Sedimentary layers that have been deeply and roughly incised by the river erosion. Also explore a cave with a Mogollan influenced archeological dwelling, probably a small satellite site to the great Paquime Civilization, like other similar sites in the canyons.


DAY 7. 




Drive to other panoramic canyon overlooks and visit an open-air market and observe Tarahumara women deftly weaving their aromatic pine needle baskets in a myriad of sizes and designs. Hikers will trek from the first overlook to the market area. You view the sun setting over the Pacific slope descending from the sierra over the best section of the railway on your final train ride (1:30pm - 6:15pm). Arrive in El Fuerte and, where you will be greeted by our staff and overnight at the RIO VISTA LODGE



Frequently Asked Questions?


Do I have to hike every day?

No, you can hike as much or as little as you'd like.  You will have your choice for each adventure to go by foot, or to take the van.  You can use whichever suits you that day.


I'm leery of banditos!  Will we be safe?

Yes, our group will be exclusively with local professional guides that know the country and the people.


What meals will I have to buy?

None.  From the time you are picked up from the airport in Los Mochas to the time you check out from the Rio Vista Lodge to go home, all your meals are provided!  Our hosts are even going to prepare for us a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day!  Included with your meals are bottled water, soft drinks, wine, Cerveza and 100% Agave Margaritas.


Do I tip at the end of the trip?

All tips and gratuities are included in the package price, EXCEPT for our guide.


Will there be shopping?

Yes, Yes, Yes

DAY 8.


Breakfast on the patio and at the appropriate time transfer to the Los Mochis airport.


PRICE:  Land package  $1289.00

 double occupancy

Remember that this price includes ALL your meals, ALL beverages including Wine, Cerveza and 100% Agave Margaritas,  ALL tips and gratuities, ALL transfers, ALL fees and taxes.

AIR: $290.00 RT  Tucson, AZ — Los Mochas, Mexico


Cancellation Policy:  A non-refundable (if there is no wait list) $200 deposit due to hold reservation. Balance due in full 90 days prior to departure. Cancellations 89-61 days before departure, $550 per person penalty. Cancellations 60-21 days before departure, $700 per person penalty. Cancellations 20 - 4 days or less before departure, $800 per person penalty. No refunds for cancellations 3 days or less. Name changes are always permissible, quote based on number of passengers. No refunds for any unused portions of a trip. We are not responsible for weather, mechanical failures, war, terrorism and quarantines. All travelers will be required to sign a release and assumption of risk. Fifty percent of cancellation fees up to a maximum of $400 per person may  be applied on our regularly priced itineraries.

For more information on Copper Canyon and some incredible photographs of the area, please visit  or

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