El Pinacate, Volcanic Region in Sonora

The volcanic region of El Pinacate is located on the northwest of Sonora State, covering 714,556 hectares of the Altar Desert and consists of almost 400 extinct volcanoes. It is one of the most arid regions of the Sonora desert with an extraordinary scenic beauty. It has one of the lowest humidity rates in the world and the highest temperatures of the northern hemisphere, surpassing 122°F.

Because of its ecological, geological and volcanic peculiarity, it is a great area studied by hundreds of researchers from all over the world. It is a terrestrial formation visible from space. Thanks to its similarity with Mars, astronauts of NASA’s Apollo project trained at El Pinacate during the 1970’s.

On the 10th of June 1993, a presidential decree declared it biosphere reserve. To preserve such status, this area is divided into he nucleus zone of Sierra el Pinacate, Sierra del Rosario and Bahía Adair, where activities that can alter the ecosystems are prohibited; and a buffer zone with sites for research, traditional resource use and recreation.

Despite the lack of superficial water and scarce rain, the region of El Pinacate and the Great Altar Desert concentrate endemic species under special protection, there are 560 plant species that serve as food for 41 species of native mammals and 184 bird species, with outstanding eagles, owls and red-tail falcons. 43 reptile species are known, 4 of amphibians and 5 of fish. Among the impressive animals that subsist in this apparently inhospitable ecosystem there are bighorn sheep, white tail deer, bats, badgers, fox, wild boars, turtles, owls, golden eagles, falcons, chameleons and toads.

The main craters of El Pinacate are Crater Badillo, Crater Molina (El Trébol), Cerro Colorado, Volcano Grande, Crater McDougal y Crater Caravajales.

Currently, this area is only inhabited by approximately 200 persons, mainly dedicate to agriculture activities with a very low income level. The former dwellers of El Pinacate were Indians and Jesuit missionaries.

To visit El Pinacate it is recommended to lodge at Puerto Peñasco.

Artículo Producido por el Equipo Editorial Explorando México.
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