Chihuahua is a state in Northern Mexico.
The state is composed of desert plains in the east, and mountainous land (the Sierra Madre) in the west. A subsection of the Sierra Madre, the Sierra Tarahumara is considered by many to be the most rugged landscape in Mexico.
- Chihuahua - The state capital, a modern city with a historical center.
- Juarez - Largest border city between the coasts.
- Creel - Backpacker mecca, gateway to the canyonlands.
- Ojinaga - An ancient border town.
- Madera - A lumber town north of Creel on the edge of the Sierra. The canyon to the west of town besides being beautiful and a great area for hiking is also filled with numerous ancient cliff dwellings of Pueblo Indians.
- Basaseachi National Park, with Basaseachic Falls, Mexico's highest waterfall.
- Copper Canyon - One of the great natural attractions of Mexico. Beautiful scenery, hidden waterfalls, and timeless canyon villages.
- Cumbres de Majalca National Park - Erosion created this rock-climbers paradise in the forest between Chihuahua and Juarez.
- Lake Arareko
- Peguis Canyon - A dramatic geologic feature near Ojinaga in the area contiguous with Big Bend National Park across the Texas border.
Chihuahua is a vast area, the largest state in Mexico. Its area of 245,000km2 makes it roughly half the size of Spain or about the size of the UK. Transport costs can add up quickly in such a large rugged region.
A basic understanding of Spanish, while not necessary, will make your visit much smoother and more enjoyable. Those traveling in tour groups are often accompanied by an English-speaking guide.
Tarahumara living in remote areas will often speak only their native language and very limited Spanish. There are also other areas where Menonites live and their own language (based on German and Dutch) is used: for instance, Ciudad Cuauhtémoc, where the largest Menonite community is.
From the United States
- Ports of entry from Texas are located at El Paso-Juarez and Presidio-Ojinaga.
- Entry from New Mexico is possible on US Route 6 south of Columbus at Puerto Palomas.
- Ancient cave-dwellings, at various sites near Casas Grandes and Paquime — inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
- Mennonite colony around Cuahtemoc - The largest in the world. Well known for a variety of farm products, especially its cheeses and apples.
- Rock-climbing and rappelling in the states many canyons and rock formations.
Chihuahua is not as well known for its crafts and artisans as some of the southern states that are generally preferred by tourists. But western wear (boots, hats, and shirts) as well as saddles and tack are of high quality and fairly priced. Finding appropriate sizes may be a challenge for some visitors.
- Pottery - Pottery made in the pueblo at Mata Ortiz is considered to be some of the best in the world.
- Cheese made by the Mennonites in the north of the state should also be tried and is famous throughout Mexico and the Southwest United States.
- Vanilla and tequila are good values and are worth taking home.
- Burritos with various fillings.
- Caldo de oso - Spicy dish with chilies and fish.
- Empanadas de Santa Rita - Stuffed with pork fried with onions, almonds, raisins.
- Gorditas de cuajada - Small corn tortillas covered with butter, sugar, cinnamon, and egg and cooked in an orange leaf.
- Machaca con huevo - Traditional scrambled beef and egg dish served with flour tortillas.
- Quesadillas - Tortillas grilled with white cheese and salsa.
Some travellers report that tap water here is safe, but still most tourists play it safe and buy bottled water.
- Margaritas - This world-famous tequila concoction originated here in Juarez in 1942.
The canyonlands are intolerant of incompetence. This a harsh, rugged land with a dry climate that sees wild temperature extremes. Know your limits and abilities. Don't go out into remote areas alone. The money spent to hire local guides is nearly always well-spent. Guides can introduce you to the people living back in the remote barrancas. They can also explain the cultural history of the area and some are quite familiar with the flora and fauna of the area (note there is little remaining wild fauna other than birds).
There are military checkpoints throughout remote sections of the state. Most soldiers are young but polite, all are heavily armed. There are also narcos in most remote sections of the Sierra Tarahumara. They are also heavily armed. Guides will know which sections should be avoided.
The greatest danger is probably the terrain itself. The mountains aren't especially tall, but are very steep and rugged. It is easy to twist an ankle or break a wrist out here. Medical services are few and far between. Travel in large groups usually isn't practical because of the limited supplies available in the backcountry. Rather, the preferred mode of travel would be to form small self-supporting groups.