Gates of Paradise Trips

Low-cost backpack trips to 2 wilderness hot springs in Northern Mexico’s Copper Canyon

Last sun above Urique River, from the Great Overlook

After 28 years exploration, transportation has improved to where I can now guide backpacking trips to TWO pristine hot springs in the solitary depths of Copper Canyon, perfect base camps for exploring this subtropical paradise: Don’t miss our new movie, below. These are not the tourist-accessible springs in the smaller canyons. These two hot springs are most and all the way into the deepest canyon, Urique, 4300 and 4800 feet below the rim where we start.

Copper Canyon is as wild as the Grand Canyon was 100 years ago, with 1000s of miles of unmarked trails. It’s a bit deeper and totals three times the length of the Grand.  Only a few Tarahumara Indians – featured in the bestselling Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen – and a handful of hardy backpackers walk to the bottom.

Since 1984,  I’ve explored about 70 of the 750 miles of big canyon, including this part with hot springs, orange groves and waterfalls. It’s a warm, beautiful, timeless experience every time I go. Our main trail is called the Camino Real, but it’s a steep loose trail with a mule train -twice a week these days I think, which supplies the isolated village of Pamachi on the plateau all the way back up the other side of the canyon. Sometimes there’s a tiny gold mine too. They set off a stick of dynamite maybe once a week.

The season is November-March. It’s too hot in the bottomlands the rest of the year. Since this service is just starting, you can pretty much choose the schedule. The best time is the week leading up a full moon, which lights up the canyon in spectacular fashion. This is the real Treasure of the Sierra Madre!


From the Inner hot springs by headlamp and moonlight

Don’t miss our new movie!

A Tarahumara, her mules, chickens & husband, leave the bottomlands for the April-November hot season.

Use the “Gates of Paradise” menu at the top for the trips and other info…