Río Sonora (Sonora River) is a 402-kilometer-long river in Mexico. It lies on the Pacific slope of the Mexican state of Sonora and it runs into the Gulf of California. The Sonora River watershed covers 10,040 square miles (26,000 km2) of public land. Slopes range from steep orientations in the upper part of the watershed to more gradual topographies in the valleys. The Sonora River watershed is subdivided into six smaller watersheds.
Traveling down the Sonora River valley is like going back in time. This valley is rich in history and traditions. The northern valley is the crossroads between four different Indian cultures. Here one can find remnants of the Trincheras Culture to the west, Rio de Sonora (opatas) culture to the south, Casas Grandes culture to the east and Hohokum to the north. This valley is the route that Alvaro Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca traveled on his way south to central Mexico after his shipwreck in Florida. Coronado traveled this valley on his way north, looking for Cibola, the fabled city of gold. Juan Bautista de Anza went north through this valley and founded the city of San Francisco Ca. even Francisco Eusebio Kino came north through this valley to settle in Dolores and christianize southern Arizona and northern Sonora. For many years the apache Indians were a constant menace in this area. Geronimo crossed the U.S. – Mexico border and raided ranchos and towns in the area, until his surrender. The water in the Sonora River and its rich fertile soil, made it ideal for the first Spaniards to settle here. Rich grama grasses and plenty of water made it a paradise to ranchers. The mountain ranges are rich with minerals, gold being one of the main ores that attracted prospectors to the area.
The entrance to the valley is in Cananea where the river is born. Here in Cananea is also where the San Pedro River is born, and flows north into the U.S. Cananea boast the third largest copper mine in the world and one of the largest astronomical observatories in Latin America. If this wasn't enough, Cananea is considered the birthplace of the Mexican Revolution, it all started here on June 1, 1906.
The towns along the Sonora River are small and you get the feeling that time has stopped here. People still make their living farming and ranching. Here you will not find fast food chains. You can travel for miles without seeing signs of civilization. The highway is scenic and perfect for riding a bicycle or motorcycle. All the towns were founded in the early to mid-sixteen hundreds.
Each town has its church named after their patron saint and during the summer they all have their celebrations. Each town is known for their churches, hot water springs and food typical of the area.