A covert, colonial town snugly situated upon the foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains of Sonora, there is little the discerning visitor could not find enchanting about this “garden of the peaks.” Swathed by the majesty of El Mirador peak to the South and the Sierra Madre chain for much of its perimeter, first time visitors to Alamos often observe how remarkably isolated the “City of Portals” feels from the rest of the world. At 226 miles (396 km) from Sonora's capital Hermosillo, it may as well be.
Located within the Mexican state of Sonora along the far North West coastal plain, Alamos is considered the most Northerly of Mexico's “Silver Cities.” Thriving on its harmonious blend of pre-Hispanic and colonial heritage, Alamos has unwittingly become a magnet for hikers, owing to its altitudinous exterior and beautiful terrain. It is for this mix of contrasts and attractions that Alamos was granted the title of “Pueblos Magicos” by SECTUR in 2005. Often likened to the winding serpentine layout of El Fuerte, the city evades the clichéd tourist trap attribution, with a virtuous serenity influenced by its natural elevation.
Beyond the rugged hills and ruinous haciendas to be found along the boundary of Sierra de Alamos Ecological Reserve, Alamos extends to a charming spread of cobbled calles and red tiled adobes. Plaza de Alamos, within the center of the town can clearly be seen from the peak of El Mirador, characterized by its noble Church of La Purísima Concepción – a mish mash of architectural styles, thought to have taken inspiration from the Spanish-built church of the same name at Lompoc, California. A white-tipped pagoda stands within the center of the plaza, around which Mexican Flag Day is celebrated. Members of the local Tuna (twelve man Spanish orchestra) regularly strike up for an impromptu concert on a summer's day, responded to by natives as yet another excuse for a dance and communal get-together. One block East of the Parroquia sits Plaza de Armas' portales – a series of constructed archways forming a boundary wall around a commemorative square. Locals trade a fascinating array of wares along its Western front, including indigenous jewelry and cotton linens, for which Alamos has become particularly well known.
Due to its close proximity to Copper Canyon, Alamos is regularly used by hikers as a base for exploration. Few realize the multitude of natural wonders to be found among the Sierra Madre foothills, thickly forested by Ironwood and Palo Verdes. Great column-like cacti grow beneath the voluminous canopies, providing a rich tropical habitat for all manner of reptiles. Extending 15 km West of Alamos, the dense tropical jungle gives way to a huge reservoir for as far as the eye can see. Encompassing an area of 80,000 acres, El Mocúzarit Reservoir is the ultimate spot for bird-lovers seeking to catch a glimpse of the Blue-Footed Booby or Red Billed Tropic Bird. Rising like an illusion from the water, the Adolfo Ruiz Cortinez Dam cuts across the East shore - considered one of Sonora's finest contemporary engineering efforts since the 19th Century. Locals believe that as the sun sets across the magnificently still expanse of water, it is the closest to heaven you can get - in this lifetime!
Attractions & Things To Do in Álamos
Church of La Purísima Concepción – a fine example of Hispanic and Western influences converging in a palatial building dedicated to the Franciscan “La Purisima” Mission of 1786. Open: Monday - Friday, 10 am – 4 pm.
La Aduana Mines – situated in the neighboring Northern village of La Aduana, the old Alamos silver mines can be viewed under guidance from a local tour operator. The mine shaft is one of the best preserved along the Sierra Madre chain, extending over 160 feet into the darkness of the Earth. Open: Monday – Friday, 12 pm – 4 pm.