Nacapule Canyon

Nacapule Canyon is located in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico. It is a fabulous natural wonder. Last Sunday, we hiked it. The canyon is a few miles north of San Carlos Harbor. You drive some dangerously rutted dirt roads up past a ranch or two before you get to the trail-head. The area gets a fair amount of off road vehicle use, so the approach trails are not very pretty. The desert in this part of Sonora is full of nasty plants that leave scars on your legs. You want to stick to the well worn paths as best you can. 


I heard good things about Nacapule, but was aghast at the damage that humans have done to this beautiful place. This was another sign that in a country where resources are lacking, there is little effort to maintain the environment. Nevertheless, the type of damage in Nacapule has nothing to do whether you are rich or poor. What makes Nacapule special is the fact that it has its own micro-climate. The desert climate exists everywhere but in the canyon, but in Nacapule, the conditions are much different.


You walk from sun baked scrub brush and cactus into a green oasis. The canyon temperatures are much cooler, especially early and late in the day when the sun doesn’t reach into the canyon depths. Pools of water nourish the canyon and attract lots of wildlife.


We saw a coral snake, a tarantula, frogs, lizards, squirrels, and lots of neat looking insects. We kept looking up the canyon walls for mountain lions, but didn’t see any. The big cats are seen from time to time. The extra moisture permits the growth of green plants, which are a nice contrast to the brown plants in the desert. 


The natural setting was wonderful, but the human degradation was disgusting. I was so disappointed with the amount of vandalism. Trash littered the trail, especially in the first mile. Once the trail got more rugged and went deeper into the canyon, the amount of trash that we saw decreased, but the trash was nothing compared to the graffiti. All of Sonora has a graffiti problem. Guaymas in particular. Every building, fence, sign, and lamp post has some sort of spray painted graffiti on it. I heard that much of it is gang related. I was appalled to see this same graffiti on rocks, in caves, and on trees in Nacapule Canyon. I was so disappointed. 


The lack of respect for nature was evident. Nacapule must attract a lot of youthful party animals and this must be how they mark their territory. I enjoyed the hike tremendously, but never shook the shock of the vandalism. Eventually, we exited the canyon from a side trail a few miles north of where we started. We descended to a ranch that was nestled at the base of a pretty mountain. The setting was spectacular. The ranch family consisted of a father, mother, and two young boys. They had goats, steer, cows, and chickens. They were kind enough to let us cut through their fence so that we could access a dirt road that returned to our vehicle. They let us take a few photos and then it was “Hasta la vista.”


4 Responses to “Nacapule Canyon”

  1. 1 jackwildeadventures 20 August 2016 at 8:43 pm

    Hi Scott. I just read your post on the Nacapule Canyon and you will be happy to know that the canyon was taken over by the state government and they have done a superb job of cleaning it up. I remember when it was full of trash and graffiti. All of that is gone now. There is an entry fee of 20 pesos per person, which is a pittance considering the job they are doing there. They have improved the trails without trampling the sensitive area and they prevent people from poaching rocks and plants. I hope you get a chance to see it again. If you do, look me up.


  1. 1 Nacapule Canyon “Life Adventures” « OBSON BLOG (Ciudad, Obregon, Sonora, Mexico) Trackback on 22 January 2009 at 7:49 pm
  2. 2 Sonoran Growth « Life Adventures Trackback on 23 April 2012 at 3:38 pm

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