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Visit and Learn About the Craters

1The inner route to see the craters is about 30 miles off road in good conditions where, along the way you can visit the following interesting sites: El Elegante Crater, El Tecolote, and the Cerro Colorado Crater. There are also two information stations, one at El Elegante crater and another one at the Cono de Mayo.

Along this route you can benefit from ten information stations containing relevant details of the site that you are at.  Each station emphasizes a specific theme, such as: Old Productive Activities, Water in El Pinacate, Santa Clara Volcano, Papagos (Tohono O’odham), Volcanic Shield, Botanical Reserve, Animal Reserve, The Magnificent Scenery, The Picturesque Views, The Weather and Scientific Research.

El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar are known for their unique physical and biological characteristics, by the presence of a volcano shield, and by the extensive areas of active dunes that surround them.  They have the greatest concentration of Maar craters. The Pinacate mountain range has orogenic features of high interest for its abrupt formation of volcanic eruptions, that accumulated lava in compacted rocks, sand and volcanic ashes which then formed colors of spectacular beauty and the craters: El Elegante, Cerro Colorado, MacDougal and Sykes.  The volcanoes here have erupted sporadically for about 4 million years. The most recent activity was about 11, 000 years ago. From 1965 to 1970, NASA sent astronauts here to train for their future lunar excursions, due to the similarities of the land with the lunar surface.  This is a biosphere reserve and an official UNESCO World Heritage Site.  UNESCO World Heritage sites are elected for their cultural significance and natural beauty.  The biosphere reserve is managed by the Federal government of Mexico, specifically by the Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources, in collaboration with the state government of Sonora and the Tohono O’odham nation, making El Pinacate and its many wonders a must-see for tourists!