Deep in the heart of Mayo Valley lies a city that captures the real essence of “old Sonora”. A preserver of ancient traditions and proud Mayo Indian heritage, the historic municipality of Navojoa remains a predominantly agricultural center despite developmental tourism efforts. Situated within the Southern quadrant of Sonora in the sun-soaked West of Mexico, Navojoa has long been a gateway to the popular coastal resorts of Alamos and Los Mochis. Mexico's favorite coastal gem Alamos lies just 49 km (28 miles) from Navajoa – now reachable from the newly developed extensions to Highway 15.
Settled by Mayo tribes prior to the 17th Century, Navojoa was largely surpassed by the effects of the Mexican Revolution. Ironically, its official foundation would be at the hands of Spanish Jesuits, keen to establish a network of missions along the fertile Gulf Coast. Founded in 1536 by Spanish Fray Diego de Guzmán, Navojoa grew at a leisurely pace upon the fertile South bank of the River Mayo. Its great claim to historic fame is Mexican Revolutionary General Álvaro Obregón, born and raised a chickpea farmer on the Northern fringe of Navojoa. Obregón rose to prominence during the Mexican Revolution beginning in 1910 as a staunch supporter of anti-Huerta regime leader Venustiano Carranza. Obregón's defining moment came during the Battle of Celaya in 1915, during which he lost an arm. While many a leader would have resigned from duty, Obregón continued to fight for the freedom of his people well into the 1920's, during which time he was also elected President of Mexico. Navojoa, along with the Mayo and Yaqui Valleys flourished during this period, thanks to Obregón's investment in the “agricultural revolution” of Sonora.
Evidence of the Mayo Valley's “golden era” remain some of the key points of interest within Navojoa today. Built in 1928, the breathtaking Iglesia del Sagrado Corazon symbolizes the town's ambitions for progressive development with its huge ornamental buttresses, neo-Gothic towers and sculpted vision of “Our Lady of Guadelupe”. Bounded by towering mature palm trees and exquisite cultural centers, Plaza de Sonora is perhaps the ultimate legacy to Navojoa's famous son, centered around the gated Alvaro Obregón monument erected in his honor. Plaza 5 de Mayo portrays the modernist ambition of Navojoa, dominated by a huge circular amphitheater and the white stucco Boise Rotary Club Clock Tower donated to the city in 2005. Planned beneath a semi-circular stage facing the Western horizon, 5 de Mayo Amphitheater is the cultural epicenter for Navojoa's Mayo population, brought to life during the summer months with weekly rancheras concerts. Public holidays see the plaza transformed into its official capacity as center for ceremonies, including the November 20th Revolution Day Parade marking Mexico's first official day of freedom.
A municipal treasure situated just miles from the Sea of Cortez, Navojoa has become popular in recent years as an embarkation point for coastal and river excursions. Once a thundering river prone to breeching its banks and forcing evacuation of the city, the Rio Mayo is little more than a peaceful tributary today, thanks to the iconic Adolfo Ruiz Cortines Dam. Built in 1955 at Alamos, the earthen dam sits some 81 meters above the river and remains a popular attraction among tourists to the municipality. Just 20 minutes from the city lies Huatabampito, a tiny fishing town famed for its powder-soft beaches and spectacular sunsets – the highlight of the Rio Mayo city trail.