Routes to Ride...

From Patrick Moriarty, City Bike, San Francisco, USA

Copper Canyon (Barranca del Cobre) Ride Routes

The best route to Copper Canyon depends on where you're coming from and how much time you want to take coming and going. On our ride we were coming from California so a western approach seemed logical. No one I could find back in 1998 had ever done or heard about a western approach to the area. But the roads are there, so this is what we did.

Being old dirt riders we decided to go down Baja and re-visit some old friends, and some of our favourite areas. We spent about 3 days in Baja then hopped the ferry from Santa Rosalia to Guaymas. (Santa Rosalia Ferry info here, ed. note: Note ferry page doesn't work in Firefox ) I don't know current prices, but in '98 we paid about $60 for a private cabin and a bike. I'm sure things have gone up. It's about a six or seven hour crossing. You can just book a seat, much cheaper.

In Guaymas we headed south about 60 miles on Mex. 15 to Ciudad Obregon. Here you take Mexico 12 east. Look for signs for Yecora, La Junta, Yepachic and Mex. 16. Signs come and go in Mexico but there is really only one road here. Go for about 60 miles till the intersection with Mex. 16. Continue on 16 almost to La Junta junction, turn right towards Creel on Mex. 127. If you're in more of a hurry you can skip Baja and zap interstates on the US side down to Nogales via I-10. At Nogales you pick up Mex. 15 and go all the way to Hermosillo where you head southeast on Mex. 16 all the way to Creel (see above). This route is a day's ride from the border if you're not shy about wasting "valuable resources".

Both Mex. 12 and 16 are good twisty two laners that climb through mountains and take you from the desert to Alpine forests. A great ride up.

Creel is at 8,000 ft. (about 2600 meters) and you start at sea level. You will be in the Sierra so weather is highly unpredictable, but October should be quite nice. (famous last words) For those coming to the Canyon from more southern or eastern approaches it is a pretty short and straight shot from either El Paso or Presidio, Texas to Creel on main Mexican highways.

From El Paso take Mex. 45 south to Chihuahua to Mex. 16 west to the 127 turn off for Creel.

From Presidio take Mex. 16 all the way to the 127 turn off.

Please consult a good map of Mexico to confirm these routes. I am using the maps in the Moon Travel guidebook called Northern Mexico Handbook (including the Copper Canyon) by Joe Cummings. It's a very good guidebook for the area with a useful supplement on the Canyon. Highly Recommended. Also note there may be a number of new roads in and around the Copper Canyon that show as dirt on maps but may now be paved. When I was in CC in 1998 we had breakfast with the head of the state highway division and he outlined a plan for development on the roads that would blow your mind. Luckily in Mexico what is planned rarely becomes a reality. (something about funding?)

For those off road guys, you may be able to ride a dirt road from Copper Canyon to Alamos on the Pacific coast. I know folks who have done it, but the road is sparsely maintained and may be subject to wash outs. This is supposed to be a hoot to do. You follow the road from Divisadero west parallel to the railroad. Somewhere around the aldea of Temoris Viejo you turn off toward Chinipas and head west to Alamos.

Remember, current, well informed local knowledge is always best so check and double check possible routes when you're in the area. At this point CC is so inundated with MOTO-tourists I should think someone from the many guided tours will have up to date info. Then again, they may seek revenge on independent travellers! ;-) City Bike, San Francisco, CA"

From a post by Ian Elseley on the HUBB,

RE: "...dirt road from Copper Canyon to Alamos on the Pacific coast..."

"I rode a good deal of this road recently with a loaded KLR and 80-20 street bias tires and it's really in pretty good condition. The loggers keep it pretty much open. The only problem you're likely to hit is if it rains the rivers fill fast and the rock stretches get (very) slippery. As for it being a hoot... yea... it is."

From Walter Hirales, Mexico,

"For information about the ferry boat from Guaymas to Santa Rosalia visit here or Santa Rosalia Ferry info here.

From Gerardo Ibarra, Meeting Organiser

Big Twins, Tourers and Two-up

Riding down from the East and Mid West - Presidio, TX - Ojinaga, Mex is your best bet.

After crossing in to Mex you'll have the option of hitting new hwy 16 less curves, or the old 16, through the mountains, much more twisties through Chihuahua city, Cuauhtemoc, San Pedro then Creel.

Riding down from Central US, through NM / AZ - You have three options;

El Paso, TX - Ciudad Juarez, Mex. This is the least glamorous and has the busiest border by far, once across, past Janos, the ride and scenery improve.

Columbus, TX - Palomas Mex.

This spares you from the hassle of going through C. Juarez, otherwise the route down to Creel is the same.

Douglas, AZ - Agua Prieta, Mex.

Much smaller border town, hassle free crossing, and more interesting and culture filled ride.

East Route:

Through Nuevo Casas Grandes (awesome pottery and good eats) Paquime canyon (anasasi style prehispanic housing ruins) on to Gomez Farias, Guerrero, San Pedro then Creel.

West Route: Through Cananea (historic mining town) South to Hermosillo, through the Sonora desert (yes it can get pretty hot) then East on 16 through Yecora. Here you will have the option of riding to Basaseachi falls (awesome place) and ride off road (doable on any bike with caution) from there into San Juanito, then Creel.

Through Baja...

Baja is without a doubt one of the most amazing places on earth. Riding through it onboard a motor bike is a religious experience in itself, so if you have the time, and are coming down from the Western US or Canada, this is my friends the way to go. You can cross the sea of cortez via ferry from Santa Rosalia or from La Paz further South. Estimate 3-4 days to get to Santa Rosalia, and 5-6 to La paz. 2-3 more days will get you to Creel.


Same as above plus...

Baja; can't tell you enough good things about riding Baja off road... then once on the main land, Please, ride to Alamos, and across the sierra through Chinipas, Temoris, Urique, Divisadero and finally Creel... you have no idea! (level of difficulty = intermediate / advanced) (not passable on a GS)

Gaspipe's less travelled

This is of particular interest to all of us for numerous reasons, and although it is a fact that we will be riding this thing to completion (third time's a charm) for personal and practical reasons the Gaspipe/Ibarra group must be limited in number of people. However we have every intention of promoting this amazing route, and will do all that we can to provide everyone with all the necessary information for the successful completion of this ride, whether it be in sections or its entirety (90% off road, from the border to Creel). In addition to this, there are moral, social and humane forces at play here that urge us to promote moto-tourism and adventure exploration through out this amazing region. As K7 mentioned, we are working on a little surprise for all you great folks out there... just hang tight for further details...

Finally, The road less traveled or "Ruta de la Sierra Alta" (route of the high sierra) can be ridden partially on any big bike (950, GS, Tiger, Transalp etc...) but successful negotiation of the two lower thirds require a solid and well prepped thumper, as well as solid off road and navigation skills.

Nuff said! let the preparations begin, for beyond the horizon, South of the United States, epic adventure and unimaginable beauty, await the dreamer, the explorer, the adventurer and the life loving fool....

Send in more if you know another good route!

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