Sierra Madre Occidental
Overview
 
The Sierra Madre Occidental is a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in western Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.
The range runs north to south, from just south of the Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 border southeast through eastern Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

, western Chihuahua, Sinaloa
Sinaloa
Sinaloa officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sinaloa is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 18 municipalities and its capital city is Culiacán Rosales....

, Durango, Zacatecas
Zacatecas
Zacatecas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Zacatecas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas....

, Nayarit
Nayarit
Nayarit officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Nayarit is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 20 municipalities and its capital city is Tepic.It is located in Western Mexico...

, Jalisco
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

, Aguascalientes to Guanajuato, where it joins with the Sierra Madre del Sur
Sierra Madre del Sur
The Sierra Madre del Sur is a mountain range in southern Mexico, extending from southern Michoacán east through Guerrero, to the Istmo de Tehuantepec in eastern Oaxaca.-Geography:...

 and the Eje Volcánico Transversal (Transverse Volcanic Axis) of central Mexico. These mountains are generally considered to be part of the much larger American cordillera
American cordillera
The American Cordillera is a cordillera that consists of an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. From north to south, this sequence of overlapping and parallel ranges begins with the...

.

Sierra Madre means "Mother Range".

This is a dramatic landscape of steep mountains cut through with canyons including Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon is a group of canyons consisting of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico...

, the deepest in North America.
Encyclopedia
The Sierra Madre Occidental is a mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

 in western Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.

Setting

The range runs north to south, from just south of the Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 border southeast through eastern Sonora
Sonora
Sonora officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sonora is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided into 72 municipalities; the capital city is Hermosillo....

, western Chihuahua, Sinaloa
Sinaloa
Sinaloa officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Sinaloa is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 18 municipalities and its capital city is Culiacán Rosales....

, Durango, Zacatecas
Zacatecas
Zacatecas officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Zacatecas is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 58 municipalities and its capital city is Zacatecas....

, Nayarit
Nayarit
Nayarit officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Nayarit is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is divided in 20 municipalities and its capital city is Tepic.It is located in Western Mexico...

, Jalisco
Jalisco
Jalisco officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Jalisco is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is located in Western Mexico and divided in 125 municipalities and its capital city is Guadalajara.It is one of the more important states...

, Aguascalientes to Guanajuato, where it joins with the Sierra Madre del Sur
Sierra Madre del Sur
The Sierra Madre del Sur is a mountain range in southern Mexico, extending from southern Michoacán east through Guerrero, to the Istmo de Tehuantepec in eastern Oaxaca.-Geography:...

 and the Eje Volcánico Transversal (Transverse Volcanic Axis) of central Mexico. These mountains are generally considered to be part of the much larger American cordillera
American cordillera
The American Cordillera is a cordillera that consists of an essentially continuous sequence of mountain ranges that form the western "backbone" of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica. From north to south, this sequence of overlapping and parallel ranges begins with the...

.

Sierra Madre means "Mother Range".

This is a dramatic landscape of steep mountains cut through with canyons including Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon
Copper Canyon is a group of canyons consisting of six distinct canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara in the southwestern part of the state of Chihuahua in Mexico...

, the deepest in North America. The highest point is probably Cerro Mohinora
Cerro Mohinora
Cerro Mohinora is an extinct volcano that is part of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in the Mexican state of Chihuahua located in the municipality of Guadalupe y Calvo. Cerro Mohinora is the highest point in the state of Chihuahua reaching an elevation of 10,827 ft above sea level...

, located at 25°57′N 107°03′W. Different sources cite its altitude as either 3250 m or 3300 m. However, other mountains at 26°03′N 106°25′W and 23°12′N 104°57′W are of very similar altitude and may be higher.

The climate varies considerably between the northern and southern extents of this long mountain range.

Rivers of the mountains include the Río Grande de Santiago
Río Grande de Santiago
The Río Grande de Santiago is one of the longest rivers in Mexico, measuring up long. The river begins at Lake Chapala and continues roughly north-west through the Sierra Madre Occidental, receiving the Verde, Juchipila, Bolaños, and other tributaries...

, which is Mexico's longest, and the Humaya River
Humaya River
The Humaya River is a river in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, that connects to the Tamazula River in the city of Culiacán to form the Culiacán River. The source of the river is the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains. The water flows from the north of the city. The water then flows to the Pacific Ocean....

 in Sinaloa.

Ecology

The Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests
Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests
The Sierra Madre Occidental pine-oak forests are a subtropical coniferous forest ecoregion of the Sierra Madre Occidental range of western Mexico and the southwestern United States...

 are found at elevations of 1500–3000 m (4,921.3–9,842.5 ft) throughout the range. This ecoregion is noted for its high biodiversity
Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions...

 and large number of endemic species.
The Sonoran Desert
Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a North American desert which straddles part of the United States-Mexico border and covers large parts of the U.S. states of Arizona and California and the northwest Mexican states of Sonora, Baja California, and Baja California Sur. It is one of the largest and hottest...

 is found in the northwestern foothills at 1000–2000 m (3,280.8–6,561.7 ft). The Chihuahuan Desert
Chihuahuan Desert
The Chihuahuan Desert is a desert, and an ecoregion designation, that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border in the central and northern portions of the Mexican Plateau, bordered on the west by the extensive Sierra Madre Occidental range, and overlaying northern portions of the east range, the Sierra...

 is found to the northeast and east, the Meseta Central matorral and Central Mexican matorral
Central Mexican matorral
The Central Mexican matorral is an ecoregion of the Deserts and xeric shrublands Biome of central Mexico.-Setting:The Central Mexican matorral covers an area of on the southern portion of the Mexican Plateau....

 to the southeast, and the Sinaloan dry forests to the west and southwest.

People

The mountains are home to several indigenous nations speaking Uto-Aztecan languages
Uto-Aztecan languages
Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family consisting of over 30 languages. Uto-Aztecan languages are found from the Great Basin of the Western United States , through western, central and southern Mexico Uto-Aztecan or Uto-Aztekan is a Native American language family...

, including the Tarahumara
Tarahumara
The Rarámuri or Tarahumara are a Native American people of northwestern Mexico who are renowned for their long-distance running ability...

 in the central portion of the range, and the Huichol in the southern part of the range. After 1886, these mountains served as refuge for the remaining Chiricahua
Chiricahua
Chiricahua are a group of Apache Native Americans who live in the Southwest United States. At the time of European encounter, they were living in 15 million acres of territory in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona in the United States, and in northern Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico...

 Apache known as the Nameless Ones (Nnee Nnaahí) who refused to surrender with Geronimo
Geronimo
Geronimo was a prominent Native American leader of the Chiricahua Apache who fought against Mexico and the United States for their expansion into Apache tribal lands for several decades during the Apache Wars. Allegedly, "Geronimo" was the name given to him during a Mexican incident...

to U.S. forces.
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