Northern Highlands

Shutterstock/2617569/Ales LiskaThe imposing Sierra Madre highlands of northern Mexico are rarely a destination in their own right. But these vast landscapes, at times barren and monotonous, hold some spectacular surprises.

The most important archaeological site in northern Mexico is just a couple of hours' drive south of the border at Casas Grandes (Paquimé), a maze of multi-storeyed adobe buildings, once a thriving community with over 3000 inhabitants. Don't expect to see too many dainty little dogs in Chihuahua; this, Mexico's biggest state, is the rugged land of Pancho Villa and there are museums and memorabilia dedicated to the
-turned- hero of the Revolution - even the bullet-ridden Dodge car he was finally gunned down in. It's dramatic stuff; and so is the
, billed as 'the world's most scenic railroad', which wends its way across bridges, through tunnels and over the Sierra Madre down to the Pacific coast at Los Mochis - the journey of a lifetime.

Hikers will want to stop off at Creel or Divisadero to view the awe-inspiring landscapes, strange rock formations and wildlife, as well as visiting Mexico's tallest waterfall and penetrating the vertiginous depths of the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) - a vast canyon system covering an area several times larger than Arizona's Grand Canyon. This is the craggy land of the Rarámuri people, and some 60,000 live in the sierra where you can buy their hand-carved and woven crafts in any of the towns or villages. And if you're still looking for action, why not visit the Wild West and walk the streets of real Western film sets in the State of Durango.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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