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CHIHUAHUA

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CHIHUAHUA

NATURAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL ATTRACTIONS

-Archaeological Compound of Paquimé: it is one of the most important pre Hispanic remains in the north of Mexico. It has an extension of 50 hectares, not entirely investigated, and its constructions combine indigenous elements from the southwest of the United States and from the Mesoamerican peoples, being evident the influence of the latter in the cult to Quetzalcoatl and the ball game.
It was an important trade centre of regional influence during its time of splendour (900-1100 AD). More than half a hundred 3-storey buildings from that period are still standing; built with compacted mud, they present rooms, interior staircases, windows and doors in the shape of a T. Besides, they have a singular system to provide them with water.
Ceremonial precincts with human remains and pottery objects, polychrome vessels, seashells and beads of turquoise that might have been part of the offerings, have been identified too. These historical vestiges are exhibited at the National Museum of Anthropology in the City of Mexico.
Paquimé may have been abandoned in 1300 AD due to the hostility and the attacks of the North American Apaches. Its magnificence and historical importance have been acknowledged by UNESCO, which declared it Patrimony of Humanity in 1998.
You should visit the Museum of the Cultures of the North in the archaeological zone, which exhibits elements that depict the development of northern Mexico and southern United States.
Its name comes from a word in the Zuñi language that means "Big Houses". It is located at 290 kilometres of Chihuahua.

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    -Barrancas del Cobre: abysmal ravines and mountains more than 3000 metres high configure the topography of this sector of the Western Sierra Madre, one of the greatest attractions in the State of Chihuahua.
    The zone is 600 kilometres long and 250 kilometres wide; although, the most amazing thing is its sheer depth: 1870 metres at the Urique Ravine, whose depth is greater than that of the Great Canyon of the Colorado, in the United States.
    The ravines present a variety of microclimates and settings due to the diversity of its altitudinal floors. The fauna is also prodigal in species of great importance, such as the pumas, racoons, jaguars and otters, besides birds such as the eagles and the wild turkeys. The Tarahumara Sierra is within the Barrancas, and it is the home of numerous indigenous groups, such as the Tarahumara, which are the most, Tepehuaes, Pimas and Guarojíos, who subsist out of agriculture and pasturing.
    In the case of the Tarahumaras, who call themselves Rarámuris, they differ from the others for being hasty hunters living in secluded places in caves or modest wooden cabins located in the mountains; this isolation has allowed them to keep their traditions; although, unfortunately it also keeps them in extreme poverty.
    During the colonial period the Spaniards discovered innumerable minerals in the zone. Their exacerbated greed led them to layout risky roads, which several centuries later would be replaced by the railways "sown" by the companies of the United States that exploited the riches hidden in the wild geography. The railroad is still operating nowadays, and it allows visitors to go on one of the most spectacular train rides in the world, not only because of the beauty of the landscapes, but also for the rosary of towns of mining origins, such as Creel, or colonial such as El Fuerte, existing along its path. This adventure on tracks generally starts at the train stations of Chihuahua or Los Mochis.
    The zone of Barrancas del Cobre is situated at 257 kilometres from Chihuahua, having the City of Creel as reference.

    -Sinforosa Ravine: with a depth of 1830 metres, it is one of the most spectacular places in the Tarahumara Sierra. The zone is of volcanic origin and it started to form 30 million years ago, approximately, when intense eruptions took place in this region of the planet. The lava and the rocks helped to configure the current geography, prodigal in forests of pine trees and ilexes (in the upper parts), evergreen alders, acacias and agaves (intermediate zones), and in fauna species, such as pumas, deer and lynxes, amongst others.
    The Sinforosa has an extension of 120 kilometres, and its weather is mild and cool in summer and very cold in the winter months. It is located at 16 kilometres of Guachochi, a community situated at 344 kilometres of Chihuahua.

    -Cascade of Basaseachi National Park: its name in Rarámuris language (spoken by the Tarahumara) means "place of cascades or coyotes". Its main attraction is a fabulous 246-metre high waterfall over the Candameña Ravine.
    One of the most recommendable places to fully appreciate the beauty of the cascade is the zone known as The Window; although, the great adventure is in walking along the 2-kilometre trail leading to the entrails of this waterfall.
    The park has an extension of 625 hectares and its beautiful settings show forests of pine trees and ilexes, ravines, rivers and streams, the most gorgeous sceneries that shelter an interesting variety of animal species, with birds such as the eagles, the woodpeckers and the wild turkeys, amongst others, standing out; and mammals such as the puma, the deer and the foxes, just to cite a few.
    Ideal places for camping and mountain bike routes have been conditioned within this natural area. Basaseachi is located 270 kilometres west of Chihuahua, in the mountains of the Western Sierra Madre.
    Inside the park we have:
    • Cascade of Piedra Volada: it has a 453-metre height and is considered the highest in Mexico and one of the 11 highest on the planet. It is fed by the waters of the Stream of Piedra Volada, being really spectacular between the months of June and September (winter). The cascade is surrounded by dense vegetation, with splendid forests of pine trees and ilexes, besides acacias and evergreen alders, which serve as a refuge for numerous birds such as the so called coa bird, on the brink of extinction, as well as eagles and woodpeckers. There are also pumas, deer and foxes in the zone, just to cite a few mammals.
      There are camping areas nearby this amazing waterfall, along with trekking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails.
    -Madera: it is a town that evolved around a sawmill where the wood extracted from the nearby forests was processed; but its main attractions are not on its streets, but in the millenarian caves on the outskirts, which were used as refuge by the inhabitants of the Paquimé Culture, who built their dwellings inside them in order to protect themselves from the extreme weather and the attacks of their enemies. The dwellings were already abandoned when the Spaniards arrived.
    The most important caves of Madera, a city located 276 kilometres away from Chihuahua, are:
    • El Garabato Caves: they are known as the Forty Houses due to the great number of pre Columbian precincts there are in their interior. Built between the years 1060 and 1205 AD, they may have been used as dwellings by the people of the Paquimé Culture. The Windows, with an interesting number of constructions, and the Large Cave, kept by a small cascade, jut out within this cluster of caves located by the Stream of El Garabato; located 68 kilometres away from Madera.

    • La Ranchería Cave: its cluster of dwellings is larger than that of Forty Houses; it has an extension of 50 metres long and 20 metres wide. There are more than 24 rooms in its interior, most of them with two storeys and of huge dimensions. There are also grain deposits made of adobe and straw, rather deteriorated, in which they may have stored maize. A singular detail is in the geometrical figures in black colour existing on its walls.
      The constructions are situated in the Huápoca Ravine, close to the former Hacienda of Sirupa, and at 50 kilometres from Madera. It is advisable to visit it in the company of an experienced guide.

    • Anasazi Group: it is conformed by the Cave of the Serpent, with 14 rooms, and the Eagle's Nest with just one room. It is located in the Huápoca Ravine, 33 kilometres away from Madera. It is recommendable to visit it in the company of an experienced guide and to be in good physical condition.

    • Cave of the Mummy: the body of a mummified male adult, which was surrounded by offerings such as ceramics, stone utensils and fresh corn cobs (elotes), was found in its interior.
      Currently the mummy is exhibited in the Museum of Captain Leal, in the City of Madera. Its state of preservation is excellent. It is believed there were more mummies in good conditions in this cave located very close to the Arroyo Ravine, but they may have been destroyed by irresponsible visitors.
      The cave is divided in two levels, with more than 10 rooms in optimum conditions on the second one.


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