Just north of Guadalajara sits a geographic wonder that some say rivals America’s Grand Canyon: the “Barranca de Huentitán” known also as “Barranca de Oblatos-Huentitanm” a canyon up to 1,700 feet deep carved by the Río Grande de Santiago.
Home to a wide variety of vegetation, it offers magnificent views as well as a great place to exercise, although you need to watch out for some steep and rocky paths. It draws about 5,000 visitors a week who come to hike into and out of the canyon, as well as for picnics along the riverbank.
The traditional stone path guides you to a beautiful scenic overlook about halfway to the bottom. Once there, you’ll be able to see the semi-abandoned villages of “Las Juntas” and “Arcediano”.
During my visit I encountered many people who come to the Barranca to exercise including an 80 year old man who showed us a new path which isn’t that steep, cautioning us to be careful not to run. However, most of the paths are very steep so tackle them only if you’re in good physical condition.
Self or Private Guided Tours
While there are no official guides, you can easily find a private guide who might charge about 200 pesos ($15USD) to help a small group of people discover some of the lesser-known paths. I’d also recommend an early morning visit, as at midday the sun can get harsh.
This is a trip for the adventuresome, due to the steep hill and the clambering up and down rocks. Make sure you are wearing light boots and comfortable clothing.
History at Every Turn
Its history is as interesting as the place itself, because during the time of the Spanish Conquest it was the scene of many battles between the natives of Huentitán and the Spaniards. It was also the scene of battles during the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero rebellion.
In 1995 a program called “Rescue of the Barranca Oblatos-Huentitán” was created in order to preserve the area for ecotourism, sports, environmental education and community development. It was declared a protected nature area in 1997 due to its biological diversity, which ranges from tropical deciduous forest to riverbank woods, rupicola and secondary vegetation.
Nearby you can also find the University of Architecture and Design (CUAAD), the Guadalajara Zoo and Metropolitan Planetarium, as well as sports and recreational facilities for football, basketball, tennis, and running.
From the downtown area you can take the bus route 258D in the street Prisciliano Sanchez and the avenida 16 de Septiembre. If you’re in the “San Juan de Dios” area you should take the 603A bus route, which will leave you right at the entrance of the barranca.
This article originally appeared on our sister publication Global Delivery Report.