RESERVA DE LA BIOSFERA EL PINACATE 1
RESERVA DE LA BIOSFERA EL PINACATE 1

Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve

Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco

Northern Mexico

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Central Mexico

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Southern Mexico

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Varios Estados

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Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve

Monasterios de Morelos

Sanctuary of Jesús Nazareno de Atotonilco

Northern Mexico

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Central Mexico

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Southern Mexico

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Varios Estados

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Natural asset registered in 2013 on the list of World Heritage Sites.

The reserve is located a few kilometers from Puerto Peñasco in the northwest of Mexico, in the state of Sonora, just below the state of Arizona. It's one of the most visible land formations in North America, so much so that it can be identified from space. It's composed of a volcanic system known as Santa Clara, with 400 volcanic cones of different shapes, sizes, and complexity. The area occupied by the Pinacate Shield Volcano represents 32%, while the mobile and fixed dune field covers over three-quarters of the total surface area of the reserve.

The area contains a spectacular volcanic shield with lava flows and millennia-old, gigantic craters, some reaching over one kilometer in diameter and 120 meters in depth. The El Elegante crater stands out, measuring 1,400 meters in width and 140 meters in depth. The landscape of the crater area is similar to that of the Moon, which is why the area was chosen by NASA for astronaut training for the Apollo mission.

Exploring this protected area of 714,556 hectares (larger than several states in Mexico, such as Aguascalientes, Colima, Morelos, and Tlaxcala) is quite an adventure. The rugged path winds through lava flows and dark rocks with whimsical shapes, surrounded by saguaros, organ pipe cacti, chollas, and mesquite, palo verde, and ironwood shrubs.

The El Elegante crater, located just over an hour from Puerto Peñasco, is the most visited as vehicles can reach almost to its edge. Tecolote and Cono Rojo are the two camping areas within the reserve where overnight stays are permitted. Tecolote is located between the El Elegante and El Colorado craters and features an interpretive trail that takes you through the Cono and Mayo crater. Cono Rojo serves as the starting point for the trail that takes you to the summit of Pico Pinacate or Santa Clara Volcano, the highest point in the Sierra, surpassing 1,200 meters above sea level. Special regulations apply to the latter, as it's considered a highly difficult trail, requiring a four-wheel-drive vehicle or off-road tires.

The dunes can reach 200 meters in height and contain a variety of dunes types. The linear, parabolic and star dune formations contrast with a series of granite massifs up to 650 meters high that emerge like islands from the surrounding sea of sand.

More information

 

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve

A PARADISE BY THE SEA OF CORTÉS

 

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