Pacific Northwest

Shutterstock/26775445/Holger MetteThe northwest coast of Mexico is primarily known for its surreal landscapes and vast expanses of almost primeval desert, as well as its other geographic extreme: age-old fishing villages and former missions sprinkled between famous resorts. This region includes the remote Sierra Pinta range and the El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar biosphere reserves, all with awesome scenery and rare ecosystems. It also boasts the longest sand dunes in North America at Algodones, and the beaches and water sports of Puerto Peñasco. You can head south along a beautiful coastal route to explore the Jesuit Missions, enjoy sport fishing at Kino Nuevo, sample 'Old Mexico' in next door Kino Viejo, or participate in fishing tournaments at La Choya and San Carlos. Boat trips run to the islands just off the coast or you can take an overnight ferry to Santa Rosalia or La Paz in Baja California Sur.

Heading south, make a detour to the beautiful colonial town of Alamos, site of the first US-Mexico joint restoration project and home to some of the best-preserved
casonas
(old mansions) in the country. Sample the region's best seafood in Guaymas and the nearby showcase resort of San Carlos. Enjoy the music of the roaming Mariachis in Los Mochis before boarding the famous Copper Canyon train for the journey of a lifetime. The popularity of Mazatlán as a holiday resort is well established.

Travel northeast to Durango and the colonial heartland, or south- east to Tepic, Tequila (where you can visit several of the region's prime distilleries) and Guadalajara, on the way to the beaches further south or inland to Mexico City. From Tepic, take Highway 200 south to visit the mega-resorts of Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo, or to Acapulco and all the way to the border with Guatemala.

The northernmost parts of the area are desert but fruitful wherever irrigated by water flowing from the mountains. Summers are very hot (this region is the hottest in all of Mexico), sometimes rainy; winters are mild and dry.

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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