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Northern Mexico is a vast desert region bordering the United States of America. The north is sometimes referred to as "unknown Mexico" or "lost Mexico" because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists.


Regions map
  • Chihuahua - The biggest state in Mexico, Chihuahua served as the battle ground between federal and revolutionary forces led by Pancho Villa and has played a crucial role in the development of high-tech enterprises in Mexico.
  • Coahuila - Mexico's top mining state, Coahuila has also been a leader in modern policies such as offering civil unions to same-sex couples and, like Baja California, plays an important role in Mexico's wine production.
  • Durango — The least developed state in Northern Mexico, but still above the Mexican average, Durango is a land rich in mineral and forest resources, a large mountain range, a colonial-style capital and it is the state with the average coldest temperature in the North.
  • Nuevo León - Mexico's industrial heartland, Nuevo León is home to world-renowned companies Cemex, Bimbo and Femsa (Coca-cola in Latin America) and represents 11% of Mexico's GDP, placing the state's living standard higher than European countries such as Hungary or Slovakia.
  • Sinaloa - Right under the state of Sonora on the West coast of Mexico. Its music is more influential than any other Mexican state and its climate is unique among the other Northern states since it is mainly tropical.
  • Sonora - Quintessentially northern in lifestyle and traditions, Sonora was the original destination for European immigrants during the Mexican gold rush in late 1800s, the same immigrants that would later spread into the rest of northern Mexico. Sonora also generates the most extreme temperatures throughout Mexico, with snow covering the peaks of Sierra Madre Occidental during winter and heat waves reaching 50 degrees Celsius during the summer.
  • Tamaulipas - Strongly focused on export-oriented manufacturers (i.e. maquiladoras), the average wage for an employee in Tamaulipas is the highest in Mexico, making Tamaulipas also a leader in education with minimal illiteracy compared to other states.


Map of Northern Mexico
  • 1 Chihuahua - large bustling city, capital of the state of Chihuahua, starting point for the famous Chepe train through the Copper Canyon. Second largest city in northern Mexico.
  • 2 Ciudad Juárez - sprawling border town and home to the original "burrito"
  • 3 Creel- the tourist center of NW Mexico and an area that is increasingly compared to Moab, Utah for its excellent biking opportunities.
  • 4 Culiacán - capital of the state of Sinaloa. It is located at the center of the state.
  • 5 Monterrey - a large, vibrant young city, it is the center of industry in Mexico. Largest city in northern Mexico.
  • 6 Puerto Peñasco - originally called "Rocky Point" by the British, it is the nearest beach resort to Arizona.
  • 7 Saltillo - small city with colonial charm, capital of the state of Coahuila.
  • 8 Tampico - busy port city on the Gulf of Mexico.
  • 9 Durango - a colonial city, capital of the state with the same name, it has a cold climate and a growing economy.
  • Laguna metropolis - consisting of three cities with a desert climate, La Laguna is the industrial engine of the states of Coahuila and Durango. 10 Torreón, in the state of Coahuila, is the largest and most modern of the three, with a vibrant night life. 11 Gómez Palacio Gómez Palacio, Durango on Wikipedia and 12 Lerdo Lerdo Municipality on Wikipedia belong to the state of Durango: Gómez Palacio is a midsize city, the economic engine of the state, while Lerdo is the smallest of the three. With a colonial charm, Lerdo is famous amongst the people of La Laguna for its abundant vegetation.

Other destinations[edit]

Arareco Lake, near Creel.
  • 1 Copper Canyon- world famous for good reason.
  • 2 Isla Tiburón - the largest Island in Mexico, located in the Sea of Cortez and a part of the state of Sonora.
  • Sierra del Carmen-- just across the river from Big Bend NP. This is the largest wilderness area in Latin America north of Patagonia. Owned and preserved by Monterrey's CeMex corporation (which has a strong tradition of conservation projects). No tourist infrastructure in place, but if you're self-sufficient this area is certainly worth exploring.
  • 3 Paquime Casas Grandes, Chihuahua on Wikipedia - archaeological site at Casas Grandes in a remote area of Chihuahua. Related to Pueblo culture of southwestern United States.
  • 4 Cuatro Cienegas - protected nature preserve with unique desert oasis ecosystem. Snorkeling and swimming is allowed in some pools.
  • 5 Reserva de la Biosfera El Cielo - unusual subtropical rain forest in Tamaulipas, just a few hours drive south of U.S./Mexico border


Copper Canyon, Mexico 2004 Trip.jpg
See also: Old West

This is not the tourist Mexico of the Colonial altiplano or the southern beach resorts. Rather the Norte is the Mexico of popular imagination. A place of vaqueros, horses and small towns, soaring mountains and sweeping deserts. But at the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. Truly this is a very rich and virgin region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie.

Northern Mexico is one of the country's most wealthy and modern regions. Maquiladoras(factories) are located along the northern border. America's music, television, and other forms of entertainment are present near the American border. A lot of Mexicans cross the border to shop or work.


As in the rest of the country, Spanish is the predominant language among the population. The variety of Mexican Spanish spoken in the region distinguishes itself from the rest of the country with its strong intonation and contraction of words. Due to its proximity to the United States, it receives a great deal of influence from English. For example, English words such as troca (truck), and lonche (lunch) are of common usage.

Education in English is widespread among the middle and upper economical classes of the population, albeit with varied degrees of fluency. Students and business people would the best bet if you need to ask something in English on the street.

Northern Mexico has the lowest concentration of indigenous communities of all regions in the country. There is no a single indigenous language that surpasses 100,000 speakers. Some of the most significant indigenous languages include Tarahumara, Mayo, Huichol, and Paipai. It is not necessary to learn any of these languages unless you go into a very remote area or you want to be immersed in the local culture. The great majority of indigenous people are bilingual in Spanish as well.

Get in[edit]

  • 1 Monterrey International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional Mariano Escobedo, MTY IATA), Apodaca (24 km northeast of Monterrey). Largest airport in northern Mexico with connections to most Mexican destinations and major U.S. cities. Hub for Viva Aerobus. Monterrey International Airport (Q767660) on Wikidata Monterrey International Airport on Wikipedia
  • 2 General Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport (Chihuahua city airport CUU IATA) (18 km (11 mi) southeast of Chihuahua City). Large airport with several daily flights to major Mexican hubs including Mexico City and Monterrey. General Roberto Fierro Villalobos International Airport (Q732278) on Wikidata Chihuahua International Airport on Wikipedia
  • 3 Ciudad Victoria International Airport (Aeropuerto Internacional General Pedro José Méndez, CVM IATA) (20 km east of Ciudad Victoria). Smaller regional airport serving eastern part of the region. General Pedro J. Méndez International Airport (Q3273846) on Wikidata Ciudad Victoria International Airport on Wikipedia

Get around[edit]

La Muralla, Coahuila

Northern Mexico has the best highway system in the country. Additionally, the area's sparse population means heavy traffic congestion is seldom an issue (outside of the Monterrey area). As a result, taking the bus or finding a few friends to carpool with are probably the best option for getting around. If you are short on time there are many regional flights between the larger cities. If you have plenty of time buying a horse or bicycle would really allow one to slow down and absorb the region's unique scenery, culture and lifestyle; it could be the travel experience of a lifetime.


Around Creel.jpg

A total solar eclipse on Monday 8 April 2024, tracking northeast from Mazatlan to Durango, Torreon and Piedras Negras then across Texas.


Explore a largely overlooked area that is several times the size of Spain.


See also: Mexican cuisine
  • Coyotas - Round, flat and oversized sugar cookies filled with brown sugar and traditionally prepared at Villa de Seris, Sonora.
  • Tortillas de Harina - The most popular tortilla in Northern Mexico. Unlike corn tortillas, a traditional flour tortilla is at least twice the size of a corn tortilla.
  • Machaca con huevo - Traditional scrambled beef and egg dish served with flour tortillas.
  • Quesadillas - Tortillas grilled with white cheese and salsa.
  • Burritos - flour tortilla wrapped around cheese, beans and meat.
  • Cabrito - Young goat.
  • Ensalada Cesar - originated at Tijuana's Hotel Cesar, it's a romaine lettuce with croutons salad mixed with olive oil, sliced garlic, wine vinegar, lemon, raw egg yolks, parmesan cheese and Worcester sauce.
  • Asado de chile colorado - Pork with ancho and guajillo chilies and cumin.
  • Charro beans - Cowboy-style beans with bacon and chilies.
  • Coahuila sausage' - Made of pork seasoned with ancho chiles.
  • Enchiladas de olla - Ancho chili, tortillas, poblano and grated cheese.
  • Menudo norteño - Tripe soup with ancho and guajillo chilies.
  • Cajeta de membrillo - Carmelized milk candy flavored with quince.
  • Empanadas de Santa Rita - Stuffed with pork fried with onions, almonds, raisins.


You might wish to try L.A. Cetto Wine, world-renowned wine produced in Baja California and known for its outstanding quality of Merlots and Cabernets.

Go next[edit]

This region travel guide to Northern Mexico is an outline and may need more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. If there are Cities and Other destinations listed, they may not all be at usable status or there may not be a valid regional structure and a "Get in" section describing all of the typical ways to get here. Please plunge forward and help it grow!