Barranca de Huentitan

photo Lucy Bellamy View from the Barranca de Huentitan

Heaven and earth, without shelter from shadows, relentless. Fire fell from above, fire left the bowels of the world, fire accumulated all directions, in solemn silence.

“To the Water´s Edge” by Agustín Yañez

The Barranca de Huentitán is a canyon, a huge national park that is unusual due to its proximityto such a large metropolitan area, the metro area of Guadalajara has an estimated 8 million human inhabitants. The barranca has historical significance during Mexican indigenous times as a barrier and meeting place and during the Spanish Conquest as a natural area of conflict and separation of states.

As a migrant to México I am struck always flying into the country of the huge fast contrasts between unpopulated mountainess territories and dense urban areas. The Barranca is on the edge of Guadalajara México´s second city, is a refuge for urban dwellers and adventure sport area, but also an area of tremendous interest geogically and biologically.

This 1,137-hectare national park and protected wildlife zone within Guadalajara Metropolitan area, The a ravine with a suspension bridge & ruins of a hacienda. features a ravine with a suspension bridge & ruins of a hacienda.

The Santiago River Canyon marks the border between the provinces of the Sierra Madre Occidental to the North and to the south, east and west the volcanic belt that transverses Mexico.

The canyon by definition has steep slopes, 46% on average, marginal reliefs are varied with notable differences in altitude and shapes, from flat and gently wavy surfaces to hillside elevations, domes and volcanic cones.

The canyon historically has been studied by naturalists and collectors of distinct species. The Frenchman Frenchman Henri Galeotti in 1836, he was the first naturalist to visit the area and made collections, later the English Edward Palmer in 1886. The barranca contains four distinct climate zones with their flora, fauna and vegetation: tropical forest, disciduous: Oak Forest, Riparian forest vegetation and secondary vegetation. The canyon was declared a Nature Reserve in 1997 in order to protect the area ecologically .

A total of 368 wildlife species in the groups are reported in previous studies for the area: fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and birds. Great Horned Owls, Collared Peccaries, Bobcats, Gray Foxes, Opossums, Red-tailed Boas, Barn Owls, Leaf Cutter Ants and Vampire Bats are among the species making a home in the canyon.

With waterfalls, hiking and mountain biking paths its an unusually diverse national park within close reach of the metro area.

Nomadic tribes moved through Jalisco 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, as testified by the bones, projectile points and small tools they left behind. There is some evidence that they were passing from the north to the south, following large game such as mastodons and mammoths.

The región is full of rivers, wildlife and a variety of vegetation, canyons and lakes making it a great place to foment agriculture.w

From the 10th to the 16th centuries, many nomadic tribes hunted game in Jalisco’s central valley, the Barranca de Huentitán was a central passage place in which various groups met. When the Spanish conquest arrived the larger region was home to a large group of indigenous tribes.  Caxcanes dominated the north eastern region with Huicholes in the mountains to the south. to Lagos de Moreno with the Tecuexes.

map 1820 Guadalajara region cont vid with historic pix

The Spanish conquest moved in from the southwest, driven by desire to amass more territory and wealth as they had been doing in the Mexico City región.  The City of Guadalajara, named after Nuño de Guzman´s birthplace in Spain actually had 2 locations previous to settling in the valley of Atemajac, a gentler landscape with rolling hills .  Indigenous groups fought the Spanish conquest for centuries, aided by the difficult terrain.

“The ‘stags’ came forward, carrying soldiers on their backs. The soldiers wore cotton armor. They bore their leather shields and their iron spears in their hands, but their swords hung down from the necks of the stags. The animals wear many little bells. When they run, the bells make a loud clamor, ringing and reverberating. These animals snort and bellow. They sweat a great deal and the sweat pours from their bodies in streams. Foam from their muzzles drips onto the ground in fat drops, like a lather of amole (soap) When they run, they make a loud noise, as if stones were raining on the earth. Then the earth is pitted and cracked open wherever their hooves have touched it.”

Nahua account of the conquest in the Codex Florentino, it can be found in the Laurenzian Library in Florence, Italy
The old Arcediano suspension bridge, built 1894

The Arcediano bridge was the first suspension bridge in Mexico and the second in the American continent, only preceded by the Brooklyn bridge in New York.1 The Arcediano community was located in the Huentitán ravine, in the municipality of Guadalajara .
It was built in 1894 by the engineer Salvador Collado as an assistant at the crossing of the then very large river Grande de Santiago. Guadalajara was then connected by a single direct road with the towns of Ixtlahuacán del Río, Cuquío, Yahualica, Teocaltiche and Zacatecas, and this bridge served as a way for several towns that were completely isolated to have communication with other populations. It also benefited trade and various activities that at that time helped the development of some surrounding towns.
The bridge was dismantled in 2005 by state and municipal authorities to give way to the construction of the controversial Arcediano dam, and a new suspension bridge designed as a replica was inaugurated 700 meters downriver in 2013.

find attribution…

The Barranca de Huentitan with its 1,136 hectares and has an average depth of 600 meters difference remained isolated from the larger city yet was a site for battles in the war for Independence from Spain, later skirmishes during the Mexican Revolution and the Cristero wars of the 1920´s and 30´s.  The región is of great interest to naturalists and wildlife researchers, and since 1997 has been a protected ecological zone. Its a favorite place for people who live in and visit the Guadalajara metro area to mountain bike, to hike and enjoy nature.

The sun was reaching the zenith. The horizons danced like bonfire flames. Heaven and earth, without shelter from shadows, relentless. Lumbre fell from above, fire left the bowels of the world, fire accumulated all directions, in solemn silence.

The sun was reaching the zenith. The horizons danced like bonfire flames. Heaven and earth, without shelter from shadows, relentless. Lumbre fell from above, fire left the bowels of the world, fire accumulated all directions, in solemn silence.

The sun was reaching the zenith. The horizons danced like bonfire flames. Heaven and earth, without shelter from shadows, relentless. Lumbre fell from above, fire left the bowels of the world, fire accumulated all directions, in solemn silence.

To the Water´s Edge by Agustín Yañez

“To the water´s edge by Agustín Yañez

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Raul Conde: mountain biker and trainer in Guadalajara

Raul Conde is a trainer and mountain biker who lives and rides in the Guadalajara metro area.

I´ve been riding and pedaling bicycles as long as I have been walking. Its the best way to get around, to transport myself in daily activities as well as to get great exercise while experiencing beautiful scenery right around Guadalajara


Cycling for health and fitness

It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:

Bosque de la Primavera
Bosque de la Primavera is one of the best places to ride very close to major neighborhoods.

“Cycling is a sport but its an individual sport, you are in your own world within the landscape”

Beginning with baseline two-hour rides, you can build to a longer and more challenging ride by about 30 minutes each week for two or three weeks in a row. What we do is develop training and cycling plans based on your personal goals, whether they be fitness, simple enjoyment through increasing aerobic/fitness levels and exploring areas you are curious about.

Bicycling is fast compared to walking, so you have access to a wonderful variety of landscapes.

The Rio de Santiago, at the base of the Barranca de Huentitán
the joy of bicycling
Overlooking Lake Chapala, an area filled with mountain biking opportunities.

The Lake Chapala area with surrounding towns Ajijic, Chapala and Jocotepec is surrounded by mountains and has a wealth of outdoor activities including biking – there are bike paths around the lake as well as in the mountains. Has a great list of trails along with difficulty levels, average times and elevations.

“you are your own source of power, your own motor. Enjoying the rhythm of the ride, sweating and breathing, exercising body and mind”

Sundays arriving at the Bosque de la Primavera its very quiet, but there are convenience stores for water and snacks

La Primavera forest is a large forest area located in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Its location is west of the city of Guadalajara, sharing land between the municipalities of Zapopan, Tala and Tlajomulco de Zúñiga becoming the “lung” of the metropolitan area of Guadalajara and its surroundings. Since 1934 he has had several declarations as a federal and state protected forest zone, such as that granted in 1980 by President José López Portillo as a forest protection zone and wildlife refuge.

I ride my bikes for transport, for training and exercise, for appreciating the parks and for fun”

The Bosque de la Primavera is peaceful but has signs and directions all over

The best areas for mountain biking in nature within the metro area are the Bosque de la Primavera, El Diente and the Barranca de Huentitan

Training my cousin Osvaldo on a Sunday morning

The Barranca de Huentitan

The Barranca de Huentitán, is a canyon carved by the Río Grande de Santiago within the greater metropolitan area of Guadalajara, Jalisco on the edge of the municipalities of TonaláZapotlanejoIxtlahuacán del Río and Zapopan in the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area.

It includes approximately 2,810 acres and it has an average depth of 600 metres (2,000 ft). The difference in elevation between the rim of the canyon (1,520 metres (4,990 ft)) and the river (1,000 metres (3,300 ft)) is 520 metres (1,710 ft) at the point of a funicular. This canyon is also named Oblatos-Huentitán due to the areas in the city crossed by it, called Oblatos and Huentitán respectively.

Mountain biking and hiking around the Barranca is accessible for all levels although it can also be and usually is a huge challenge. We are very fortunate in Guadalajara to have such a huge bio-diverse area right within the metro area. I get to many routes within an hour bicycle ride to the Monumento de los Niños Heroes in Colonia Americana. Better yet put your bikes on a rack and access

Increasingly in Guadalajara we have good protected bicycle paths, we have the Sunday Via Recreactiva with 62 km. of car-free cycling, and other self-powered movement every sunday for 15 years now in the 4 municipalities of the Guadalajara Metropolitan area: Guadalajara, Zapopan, Tlaquepaque y Tonalá The MiBici bike share program has been a tremendous success in promoting bicycle transport around the city:

Here are some places to locate great routes around our metro area:

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