The Top Things to See and Do in Chihuahua, Mexico

Hike in nature and enjoy the glorious views on offer in beautiful Chihuahua
Hike in nature and enjoy the glorious views on offer in beautiful Chihuahua | © NortePhoto / Alamy Stock Photo

Northern England Writer

Mexico’s largest state, Chihuahua, doesn’t have quite the flourishing tourist industry that nearby destinations such as Baja California enjoy. However, it is home to the world’s largest canyon system, the Barrancas del Cobre, as well as numerous museums and natural attractions. Here’s our pick of the top experiences around.

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Take a ride on the El Chepe train

As mentioned above, the Barrancas del Cobre – known as the Copper Canyon in English – is easily the biggest and best attraction in Chihuahua, and can be accessed via Mexico’s only commercial passenger train, El Chepe, which departs from Los Mochis in Sinaloa. Splurge for the first-class ticket so you can hop on and off at various stops along the route and take advantage of the canyons and surroundings.

Valle de los Monjes is one of the Copper Canyon’s best attractions, and therefore, one of the coolest things to see in Chihuahua as a whole. Also known as the Valle de Bisabírachi, the Valley of the Monks contains a number of towering – up to 197ft (60m) tall! – natural sculptures, shaped by a combination of strong winds, sun and rain, as well as abrupt geological shifts. It’s known as the Valley of the Monks because some of the figures resemble monks.

Dunas de Samalayuca

Sometimes people forget that Chihuahua is a vast desert state, but it is – and that means there are plenty of opportunities to venture out into the sand dunes while you’re in the area. The Dunas de Samalayuca are one of Chihuahua’s most underrated attractions, where adventure sports are all the rage – sandboarding, motocross and ATV activities are perhaps the most popular options. However, don’t even think about going in spring, summer or before the sun begins to set – it is a desert after all.

The Grutas de Coyame (Coyame Caves)

Out in the Chihuahuan desert, some miles beyond the town of Coyame, you find this subterranean system crammed with awesome fangs of stalagmites and stalactites. Join a guided tour to discover how they were formed, and to learn more about the different rock formations and minerals that help make such a curious place.While you’re in the depths, take time to view the galleries of other formations, including aragonite like white coral, pale, shard-like selenite, and marble crystals you’ll wish you could take home for your shelves.

Visit the Palacio de Gobierno

Commanding attention in the heart of Chihuahua, this ornate 19th-century building is one of the most notable architectural sights in Mexico. Evocative of a Baroque palazzo from Rome, it is celebrated for a shrine within, built in remembrance of the execution, in 1811, of Miguel Hidalgo, the Spanish Catholic priest who led the Mexican War of Independence. Whip out your smartphone to snap the central courtyard, resplendent with striking 1960s murals by Aarón Piña Mora, shedding light on Chihuahua’s tumultuous history with salutes to Abraham Lincoln and Simón Bolívar.

Poliforum de UACH

On imperious Plaza Hidalgo, where elegant palms sprout, you’ll see the University of Chihuahua museum. Here you’ll find two permanent displays of work by two prominent city artists: sculptor Águeda Lozano and Sebastián, famous for his ‘gate’ pieces, in concrete and steel. Explore also temporary exhibits of up-and-coming Mexican artists. If time allows, nose around the space where local and national artists’ works are regularly exhibited. Free guided tours are available until 3pm.

Cascadas de Cusárare

In a hot climate such as Mexico’s, you won’t necessarily jump at the chance of hiking – but you’d be wrong to skip the short walk to the Cascadas de Cusárare, waterfalls plummeting for 98ft (30m). The attraction is considered one of the most impressive in the Sierra Tarahumara mountain range, and as a day trip it’s as easy on the legs as it is on the eye. Leaving the road for a 1.86mi (3km) trek cross country, you pass through a shaded pine forest past a bubbling stream, before finally emerging at this aquatic wonder, where you can jump in and cool off.

Creel and Lake Arareko

A visit to Creel is all about getting to know the Rarámuri community of Chihuahua state. Their culture is captured in photographs on show at the Museo de la Casa de las Artesanías, moments from the train station. See also the Artesanías Misión, on the main square, which sells traditional Rarámuri crafts as a means of support for their local economy. While you’re here, make the 8.7mi (14km) drive south to Lake Arareko, a large U-shaped lake of transparent waters surrounded by fragrant coniferous forests and unusual rock formations, which can appear like sleeping animals. You can rent cabins and – bring your walking boots – hike in glorious nature.

Cumbres de Majalca National Park

Awe-inspiring rock formations are among the main attractions here, north of the city of Chihuahua. Shaped by millennia of wind and water erosion, they are prime territory – in fact one of the few places in the north – for spotting endangered species including the black bear. Among tranquil expanses of oak and pine forests, you can indulge your love of outdoor pursuits, hiking and mountain-biking. If you fancy staying a while in this magical wilderness, the Canyon of the Fairies is home to a camping area – with toilets.

Jo Fernandez-Corugedo contributed additional reporting to this article.

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