Sierra Madre Occidental

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Sierra Madre Occidental
Highest peak Cerro Mohinora ( 3308  m )
location Western Mexico , Arizona (USA)
Coordinates 26 ° 45 ′  N , 108 ° 3 ′  W Coordinates: 26 ° 45 ′  N , 108 ° 3 ′  W
The location of the Sierra Madre Occidental in western Mexico

The location of the Sierra Madre Occidental in western Mexico

The Sierra Madre Occidental near the Copper Gorge

The Sierra Madre Occidental near the Copper Gorge


The Sierra Madre Occidental is a mountain range in western Mexico and in the extreme southwest of the United States .


The Sierra Madre Occidental extends over 1500 km from southeast Arizona (south and east of Tucson ) southeast to east past Sonora , further west past Chihuahua , Durango , Zacatecas , Aguascalientes to Guanajuato , where it joins the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Volcánica Transversal Central Mexico united.

The mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental are also mostly of volcanic origin, but there has been no volcanic activity for thousands of years. The highest point is probably the Cerro Mohinora - the elevations vary between 3250 m and 3308 m; There are several mountains of comparable height in the area, including Cerro Gordo , which is sometimes rated a little higher. The gorges of the Sierra Madre Occidental, including the "Copper Canyon" ( Barranca del Cobre , also known as the Divisadero Canyon ) are among the scenic attractions in northern Mexico.

The mountain zones are very rich in minerals ( gold , silver , mercury , copper , lead , iron, etc.), but due to the lack of infrastructure (electricity, roads, etc.) in the sparsely populated mountain world, large-scale mining attempts have so far not been made.


The daytime temperatures often fluctuate significantly between the high and valley locations: The highs reach over 30 ° C in summer; at night they drop to 10-14 ° C. In winter, even daytime temperatures often drop below 0 ° C; Night frosts are the rule. In the valley areas, the climate is sometimes tropical, warm and humid. Precipitation and fog are not uncommon, with the southern area usually receiving more rain than the north (approx. 950 mm in Batopilas to 750 mm in Creel ). Several rivers drain the mountains, including the Río Yaqui , the Río Grande de Santiago and the Río Batopilas (see: List of the longest rivers in Mexico ).

Flora and fauna

The mountain range is largely composed of Madrean Pine-Oak Woodlands and is known for its great biodiversity , including a large number of endemic species .


The Sierra Madre Occidental mountains are home to several indigenous ethnic groups who speak Uto-Aztec languages ; The Tarahumara in the center of the mountain range and the Huicholes in the southern part are especially known .


Misión del Santo Ángel Custodio at Batopilas

The Spaniards explored the region as early as the 16th century, but due to its inaccessibility, it remained virtually unexplored for centuries. In the 17th century the Franciscans and the Jesuits began with the extremely difficult proselytizing of the Indians. At the same time, the exploitation of silver ore mines began on a small scale , but it was not until the end of the 19th century that silver production reached its peak under the direction of the American Alexander Robey Shepherd († 1902). Almost all major mines have now ceased operations.


The Indian tribes living here did not build any stone buildings; people lived under ledges or in simple mud huts. Only the mission orders of the Spaniards, especially the Jesuits, left behind some interesting churches, including the Misión del Santo Ángel Custodio near Batopilas. Places of interest are the former mining centers Batopilas and Álamos , both of which are classified as Pueblos Mágicos .


The novel The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1927) by B. Traven is partly set (gold prospecting) in the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The film of the same name by John Huston (1948) was partly shot here.

See also

Web links

Commons : Sierra Madre Occidental  - Collection of images, videos and audio files