El Fuerte

The penultimate stop en route to the Pacific terminus of Los Mochis, the verdant colonial town of El Fuerte is considered the gateway to the Copper Canyon region. Wonderfully tranquil, friendly and rich in colonial architecture, you could do far worse than spend a few days exploring the town and its surroundings. Founded in 1564 by Spanish conquistador Don Fransisco de Ibarra, El Fuerte once served as an important agricultural and trading centre, where silver miners from canyon country regularly converged. The town derives its name from the large fortress built in 1610 to withstand attacks from local tribes. It now houses the El Fuerte Mirador Museum, with exhibits on local history. The views from the ramparts are commanding.

Around El Fuerte

The waters from Chihuahua's major canyon systems - Sinforosa, Batópilas, Urique and Chinipas - all converge on the meandering Río Fuerte, now controlled by three dams and great for kayaking . The surrounding vegetation is a mixture of wet and dry tropical deciduous forest, home to over 150 species of bird and a riot of beautiful colour in spring. Visit at dawn, for the best show. There's good fishing too, with large populations of black bass around Huites Dam, one hour north of El Fuerte. At Cerro de la Mascara, a 1½-hour hike northeast of El Fuerte but much more easily accessed from the banks of the Río El Fuerte (take a kayak tour towards Miguel Hidalgo Dam, 12 km northeast of town, and ask your guide where to exit), interesting geometric petroglyphs can be seen. Various Mayo communities offer the opportunity to encounter indigenous life firsthand.

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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