The Copper Canyon: Places to Explore

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El Fuerte

Smart travelers come to El Fuerte, a rather sleepy town of some 45,000 residents, to board the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico. But tour operators also use El Fuerte as a base for hiking, birding, or fishing excursions. Some area hotels get in on the action by organizing float trips on the river near town. You'll see herons and egrets, as well as magpies, kingfishers, and many other birds as you drift downstream past willow trees, cacti, and lilac bushes. One popular tour is to Cerro de la Mascara, an interesting archaeological site where hundreds of rock paintings and petroglyphs have been preserved.

Conquistador Don Francisco de Ibarra and a small group of soldiers founded this small town as San Juan Bautista de Carapoa in 1564. It became known as El Fuerte for its 17th-century fort, built by the Spaniards to protect against attacks by the indigenous Mayo, Sinaloa, Zuaque, and Tehueco peoples.

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