Only in Mexico

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conquering the copper canyon The Copper Canyon or Barranca del Cobre, North America’s largest canyon system (four times larger than the Grand Canyon and much deeper in many areas), comprises almost one third of the state of Chihuahua. Its beauty comes in the form of not just scenic swoops in and out of its gorges, but also lakes, waterfalls, jungle and notable differences in terrain and temperature.

Journey Mexico, one of Travel + Leisure’s picks for “Best Adventure-Travel Outfitters” for 2010, has a Copper Canyon Railroad Adventure that departs from El Fuerte and takes passengers aboard “El Chepe,” the Chihuahua al Pacifico train, and into the Sierra Madre Mountains through dozens of bridges and tunnels until they reach Divisadero, where the Hotel Posada Barrancas Mirador is located. This is the most popular hotel in the area, as it is perched on the edge of the canyon and offers incredible rooms from each of its guestrooms. Then it’s off to Creel, a former mining town now acting as a gateway of sorts to the Copper Canyon. Clients will have the chance to interact with the Tarahumara indigenous people, many of whom sell their crafts around Creel. They’ll then descend into Batopilas Canyon, whose road was complete not too long ago, for a stay that looks out to the Batopilas River. Batopilas is thought to be the prettiest town in the area, with 19th century vestiges of its mining background in the form of elaborate mansions and other structures (tell clients to stop by the restaurant El Puente Colgante for a taste of its specialty, rainbow trout). After a 2-night stay in Batopilas and plenty of hair-raising bends and narrow-road travel, it’s back to Creel, where clients can choose to relax and explore on their own (there’s a great handcraft museum/co-op in town) or sign up for optional tours to the Cusarare Mission or pretty Lake Arareko, where they can fish or rent a boat or bike. Rates for this trip vary based on clients’ preferred dates and interests. Those who want a more active adventure can choose from one of the company’s Copper Canyon hiking tours.