Gran Carrera del Desierto: todo lo que debes saber sobre la Biósfera de El Pinacate y el Gran Desierto de Altar

Gran Carrera del Desierto: Everything You Need to Know About the El Pinacate Biosphere and the Great Altar Desert

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The Gran Carrera del Desierto will take place in an area that encompasses the El Pinacate Biosphere, in the Great Altar Desert, a place full of natural wonders that will provide great landscapes for the runners.

The El Pinacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve, located in the state of Sonora, Mexico, is a natural treasure that harbors a unique diversity of life and a stunning landscape that has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Gran Carrera del Desierto will take place in the Sonoran Desert.
Photo: Fundación ILAM

This nature reserve, also known as “El Pinacate“, covers more than 7,000 square kilometers of land and offers a window into the geological past and the biodiversity of the desert.

El Pinacate has 500 cinder cones, lava flows, stream beds, the highest concentration of “maar” type craters in the world, in addition to mountainous masses composed of granites and tuff.

Unique biodiversity that adorns the Gran Carrera del Desierto

Of the four deserts that stretch across North America, the Sonoran Desert is the one that harbors the greatest diversity. This encompasses not only the territory of Sonora but also parts of Baja California and Baja California Sur in Mexico, as well as Arizona and California in the United States.

5 desierto de sonora
Photo: Programa Destinos México

Thanks to its climatic and environmental variations, there are more species of plants and animals compared to the Chihuahuan, Great Basin, and Mojave deserts. Its extraordinary biodiversity has resulted in the creation of more protected areas in the Sonoran Desert than in any other desert in the world.

Despite the extremely arid conditions, El Pinacate harbors a surprising diversity of life. It is home to over 540 species of plants, 40 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, and a wide variety of reptiles, amphibians, and insects adapted to the desert’s aridity. Among the notable species are the mule deer, the mountain lion, the desert tortoise, and the kangaroo rat.

A place full of history

El Pinacate is an exceptional example of a volcanic field, with over 400 ash cones and craters that formed millions of years ago. Among them is the Elegante Crater, one of the largest craters in the world and a reminder of the region’s volcanic past. This lunar landscape and the impressive sand dunes of the Gran Desierto de Altar make El Pinacate a unique place in the world.

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Photo: Travesías Digital

The nature reserve is a fragile habitat that requires constant protection and conservation. El Pinacate is vulnerable to degradation caused by human activities such as mineral extraction and urbanization. For this reason, it has been designated as a biosphere reserve and a World Heritage site to ensure its long-term preservation.

The conservation of El Pinacate is a joint effort of the government, local communities, and environmental organizations. Measures have been implemented to protect its biodiversity, including the sustainable management of natural resources and the promotion of responsible ecotourism.

Cultural Importance of the Sonoran Desert

El Pinacate is also of great cultural importance to the Tohono O’odham and Hia-Ced O’odham indigenous communities, who consider it a sacred place and a site of spiritual significance. Respecting and preserving its cultural heritage is a fundamental part of the reserve’s management.

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Photo: Tribuna de San Luis

El Pinacate offers unique opportunities for outdoor recreation and environmental education. Visitors can explore its trails and paths, engage in bird watching activities, and enjoy the stunning natural beauty. Additionally, the Schuk Toak Visitor Center provides detailed information about the geology, flora, and fauna of the region, as well as its historical and cultural significance.

El Pinacate in Sonora is a natural treasure that combines unique geological beauty with astonishing biodiversity. Its status as a World Heritage site underscores its importance to humanity and the necessity for people to experience it in the most respectful manner, just as the plans of the Gran Carrera del Desierto dictate.

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Sources: Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Tribuna de San Luis, Universidad de Sonora

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