Copper Canyon in summer

Discussion in 'Americas' started by henasau, May 3, 2011.

  1. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    I am riding KLR 650 with some off road experience but I am not an expert.
    I am a bit constrained with my timing. I am aiming for Tierra De Fuego and want to get there in summer around December. I am starting from LA in early summer.

    Now the question: I would like to visit Copper Canyon this would include Batopilas and Urique and perhaps more.

    I understand this is a wet season in Mexico. I read several threads about the canyon, but it appears none venture this way in summer. Any thoughts? Any experience? How bad?

    I am Australian and can handle the heat but I am bit worried about the state of the roads after the rain. If it will make any difference I could spend some more time in the US; a month or so.

    Any help greatly appreciated
    #1
  2. sailwing2003

    sailwing2003 Been here awhile

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    Been twice to Copper Canyon but in Jan. or March. Have been told the summer heat is the biggest issue. On both trip we had low temps when high, with sleet or snow, and the tropical weather wearing shorts and t shirts in the bottom on the rivers.

    Know the tour groups stop trips in the summers.
    #2
  3. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Good on ya , glad to hear someone who is not whining about heat.
    Though it is the "rainy season" you will have no great problems if you keep an eye on the sky.
    Once made a week's transit of Mexico's north end in July and only had one or two thunderstorms , other trips to CC area during tail end of that season also no question of heat or heavy prolonged rain.
    Hot weather is really not an issue in the highland interior especially around the CC.Elevation keeps temps very nice. What you will need to watch out for is the afternoon thunderstorms which can be seen developing as the moist air heats up over the coastal plain and sets huge clouds up over and into the leading edges of the sierras.
    Time your riding to take advantage of the usually clear and dry early part of the day. You do not want to be caught out on the cliff- face hairpins descending to Batopilas or other points when one of these thunderstorms bursts Lightning can be deadly , no surprise .
    Also these storms are often very local but dump lots of water which can cause rivers to surge to high levels without warning.Avoid watercrossings which in this season can be very deep and rapid. Stick to routes which you know to have bridges carryig the traffic
    #3
  4. Tury

    Tury Been here awhile

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    Sjoerd;

    It was a pleasure meeting you, about a month ago here at Chihuahua city. All you mention I agree, having to add the rain season at the Copper area begins in May, at this momment clouds appearing and the forecast is by week end, but the rains in May are not heavy. We have a saying " Lluvias de Mayo, ni pal Caballo"meaning that rains in May not even for the horse, that is they are scarse. The rains realy begin in July to early October, but as Sjoerd says stick to the dirt roads that have the more traffic.

    It is always good to hear the point of view from riders outside of México:dealthat have been to the Mountains of Chihuahua, I ´ve been riding this mountains since 1972, I might have another point of view. If I can be of any help.I´ll gladly try too.
    #4
  5. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    Thank you for your replies. It made my day at least it looks this is doable.:happay
    I wanted to visit CC very badly. From Oz we haven't got many opportunities to see Mexico and SA for this matter, some compromises must be made.

    A couple more questions:
    What temperatures are you getting at the Canyon's bottom; hot and humid or hot and dry?
    At this time of the year am I likely to meet any bikers at Batopilas and on the trails?
    #5
  6. BoulderGuy

    BoulderGuy out ridin'....

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    I was recently asking someone who has spent alot of time in CC what it's like in the Summer...He said that people (and animals) only venture out in the AM and then dissapear till evening. Hot. Real hot...and humid. And I really doubt that you will run into any other riders that time of year. Hell, I've been on trips down there in the prime riding months and not seen anyone....So having said that, you should go anyway. The upper elevations should be OK and when down lower where it's hot ride early in the AM and kick back in the afternoon!
    #6
  7. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    [​IMG] Tury, it was a pleasure meeting you and thanks for setting us up with the hotel. We had nice visit and the remainder of the trip was all excelent weather, even for me heading back north into early spring.
    Now as to the temperatures in CC in summer. Sure it can be hot in the boxed in canyons . But if henasau is used to summer temps in the outback he will have nothing new to face, say 45C
    The experience of temperature is highly personal. Some people feel they are going to die from 28C , others may consider it just tolerably above cold.
    I include a photo as an example. The three men are all in the same spot in Guachochi , Chihuahua. this past March. One is in short sleeves, one is covered in a shirt and one is in a winter coat. Meanwhile we were wearing our mesh jacket in comfort. All in March day I have seen road workers wearing flannel hoodies whacking the undergrowth with machetes, or wearing full clothing . Of course this is to keep sun radioation and its direct heating off the skin, but people are well able to live in hot weather.
    be ready for warm weather and enjoy it!
    #7
  8. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    Thanks guys. I will give a shot and report my experience.
    Next week shipping my bike so still 1.5 to 2 month away.
    #8
  9. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    If you're leaving that late you will begin to get some rain, but the worst rain is in August/September. But even within the Canyon the weather is quite variable from the high elevation areas (Creel) to the low elevation areas (Batopilas).

    Creel is at 8000 ft. Batopilas is about 2000 ft. Creel can be a bit chilly, even in Summer and thunderstorms can pass through. Batopilas is HOT and humid, but typical of coastal N. Mexico really. Mangos and Limes grow there wild.

    The ride down from Creel to Batopilas is only a couple hours on a medium dirt road with some switchbacks. Yes, you will likely run into other riders ... and quite a few vans and trucks with tourists. Be careful on the main road going down for maniacs coming the other way. They will run you over.

    From Batopilas, if there has been tons of rain, I don't think you can make it out to El Fuerte. River crossings become too deep. As an Aussie, I know you are familiar with this. So check out with locals in Bato on conditions and decide on the day. From here on you will be pretty much alone, very little traffic. There are three ways to go.
    Stay away from the deep river crossings as much as possible. Not many good maps of these sections ... and many are inaccurate.

    You may have to ride back up to Creel and take the highway ... either Mex 16/12 back to the coast (a great paved road) or South from Creel and down to Durango, all paved. Also fun. So really you can't lose. It's all good. In July the highlands will be cool the coast HOT. Ride in the AM. Watch the weather and flooding. Enjoy and great luck on your ride South.
    Please learn Spanish so some poor hapless Gringo (Me) does not have to bail you out of jail!! :D And NO FIGHTING IN BARS MATE! :freaky :lol3
    #9
  10. Tury

    Tury Been here awhile

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    As I said it is interesting the point of view from riders that are not from México, I have been riding through these Chihuahua mountains since 1972 and the last time was in March with several friends from Minnesota " Yo sobreviví el camino a Batopilas "

    ADV Grifter is right saying that August/ September are rainy months, but outdated mentioning that the river crossings to El Fuerte from Batopilas can´t be done or dificult on those months. The fun of crossing the wide or high rios is gone, new bridges have been built. To mention 2 Batopilas--Rodeo --Tubares. Chinipas rio has a new bridge on the route to Alamos.

    The factor heat the some riders consider, I have never heard of any one having problem with them or the bikes and if they had it was due to some misshap from the bike not the ambient heat.

    Forget about the maps :dealof that area any one can tell you directions, you will be surprised as how many people speak english and willing, friendly and have seen many adventure riders, I sum with ADV Grifter have fun some:freaky XX or the dark ones:clap
    #10
  11. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Thanks for the update and current info ... I haven't been to the area since 2006 so am out of touch regards the new bridges. Wow, that is fast progress ... usually such projects take 10 years in Mexico. I heard they have planned a big airport in Creel. Is it in yet?

    It's true, the kids especially speak pretty good English as they are learning it now in school from an early age I guess.

    I first visited Copper Canyon in 1973. Again in '98, '04 and '06. I am sorry to hear about the Crazy Gangsta activity of the last couple years. I hope the Mexican people can get their kids away from the speed and get control of this out of control violencia, the cartels, corrupt military and govt. Such a shame for the people who love Mexico and her people so much.
    !Saludos a todos!
    #11
  12. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    And another road improvement that has just been completed is the route from San Juanito to Basaseachic called Chih 22 and Mex 23 , depending on who put up the signs.It is now all pavement of top quality.We came through there about 2 months ago and they were doing the final patch of 500meters to close the last little gap. It is a beautiful high country route and even in mid March the last remnant of a roadside snow drift was melting in the north slope shade between the aspen trees atop one crest. It was a great gravel road, now it is a great highway.
    #12
  13. Eran

    Eran Adventurer

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    Hi there
    we are planing to go to CC on late June and during all the first week of July
    if u could make it we could ride together and it would be great.
    let me know about your plans
    #13
  14. niels

    niels n00b

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    Henasau, When are you headed to Copper canyon? I am leaving from Florida around the 7th of June and headed that way. Going to be headed to Comitan, MX and leaving my bike with a relative before returning to Florida. (just read that you wont be here for another month or so, Guess i need to read the entire thread before posting.)
    #14
  15. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Hey guys,
    for all those headed to Copper Canyon (wish I could Go again!) ... no worries about hooking up with other riders. If you hang out in Creel for a day or two
    you are likely to see riders coming and going nearly every day. Most are headed down to Batopilas and some will ride from there out to El Fuerte and the West coast. Hook up with someone.

    You could also hang out in Batopilas. Granted, fewer in Summer than in the Fall, but I'd bet you will still run into many riders on the road in that area going every which way. It's a very popular place.

    Have fun!
    #15
  16. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    Sorry for the long silence and thanks for the replies. I am in LA right now waiting for my bike to be released from customs. I should get it in the next couple of days. I will be crossing Mexican border at the end of the first or begining of the second week of July. Probably to late to meet Niels or Eran??
    Anyone with similar timetable want to share the ride?

    My Blog
    http://www.henasau.blogspot.com/
    #16
  17. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Have you picked a route South yet? I'd suggest Baja, great ride even if you stay all on pavement. There are several worthwhile detours on fairly easy off road you can do on your KLR if you'd like. These take you out to beaches or cross the peninsula. Fun stuff. The Pacific coast will be easily 5C cooler than the Gulf side.

    It's possible you may run into other riders in Baja but Summer is not a favorite time. Most will be day trippers not heading for Tierra del Fuego ... but you never know! Keep an eye out. :thumb

    The Northern Baja beach towns like Ensenada and San Felipe may have a few riders, but once another 100 miles South not many riders out in July. You may run into a few odd in Mulege', San Ignacio (Whale Watching) or La Paz.

    In La Paz you hop the Ferry to the mainland. Go to Topolobambo. From there you can go several ways up to Copper Canyon. It will be hot but as you climb it will cool nicely. Creel is 2700 meters, probably 25 to 28C.

    [​IMG]
    The road South of San Felipe heading to Coco's Corner. Much of this stretch is now paved. :eek1:cry
    #17
  18. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    I was thinking to cross the border in Agua Pneta and than go #2, #17,#171 to #16. No particular reason appart no need to use Ferry. Any problems with this route?
    Still waiting for my bike, my departure may be delayed for another week or two.
    #18
  19. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    In L.A. you're about 120 miles from the Mexican border. To get over to Aqua Prieta, its about 350 miles through the hottest desert in the USA. A friend from the Tuscon area just reported temps of 128F there. It's also UGLY and boring riding. If you plan a tour of Northern AZ and Utah FIRST ... then that is another story. But if your goal is to go to Mexico ... then I would go Baja route.

    You could cross further East at San Luis (near Yuma, AZ) then take Mex 2 over to Caborca, then connect to Mex 15, South to Hermosillo, connect to Mex 16 to Copper Canyon. It's ALL pretty torturous and boring until you get onto Mex 16, which is a fabulous, twisty mountain road. A full days ride to make Creel. Most stop over at town near the waterfall. You DO have a guide book, right?

    If you're in a hurry to get to Copper Canyon ... then go the Mainland route.
    You will save the $100 or so it costs to take the Ferry.
    No worries, you'll only be missing one of the 7th wonders of the world: Baja. :cry

    Your plight of not getting your bike is why I always suggest to my NZ and OZ friends to simply fly to L.A. or San Fran and buy a bike here and go.
    Shipping rarely goes smoothly, is costly and there is never a guarantee on how long it will take. Most end up spending $2000 to $3000 shipping a bike
    half way round the world. What's the bike worth? :ear
    #19
  20. henasau

    henasau Adventurer

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    OK I am sold. I will go Baja route. :norton
    Any suggestions for off road in Baja? Not too extreme, I will be fully loaded.:D
    Is beach camping in Baja OK or should be avoided?
    Any recommendation for route from Topolobambo to Copper Canyon?
    #20