Dates and Cost

No scheduled dates at this time. Contact us if you are interested in this trip.


About This Trip

This short trip to the highlands of Sinaloa can be done as an extension of our San Blas trip or as a stand-alone trip to see a high number of Mexican endemics.

Until the completion of Mexican Highway 16 in 1985, the Durango highway was the only paved route over the Sierra Madres in the 1200-mile expanse between the U.S. border and Guadalajara! Considered an engineering marvel at its completion, it climbs from sea level to nearly 8,000 feet in about 60 miles, and continues to be one of the most impressive and scenic drives in Mexico. To this day, it serves as one of the most important transportation links between the coastal ports of Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, with the cities of Mexico’s central plateau region. It is referred to as the “Durango Highway”, named after the capital city in the state of the same name, which is the highway’s eastern terminus. On this tour, we concentrate on birding in the western slope of the Sierra, in the state of Sinaloa, and we never actually set foot in the state of Durango.

In considering the importance of this route for commerce, one might think that it is too developed to provide good birding opportunities; fortunately, the very existence of the highway has allowed access to some great habitat! There are countless numbers of side roads and good pullouts where you can get away from the traffic.

The extreme elevation changes found along the highway, coupled with significant rainfall amounts and rugged topography, offer an abundance of unique habitats with an incredible variety of bird life. This trip offers the potential to see in upwards of 34 Mexican endemics, many which are not possible to see, or very difficult to find in the San Blas area.

We will focus primarily on exploring the higher elevations in search of the incredibly showy and very regional endemic Tufted Jay. The Durango highway offers the only easy path for locating this fantastic bird. These highlands also offer an amazing number of other interesting birds, including Eared Quetzal, Green-striped Brush-finch, Red-headed Tanager, Golden-browed and Red Warbler’s to mention a few.

In addition, we will take advantage of the opportunity to bird in the incredibly diverse, dry, tropical deciduous forest that dominates the lower elevations. This habitat that holds numerous Mexican endemics, including Happy and Sinaloa Wrens, Mexican Parrotlets, Citreoline Trogon, Yellow Grosbeak, Red-breasted Chat, Golden-crowned Emerald, Sparkling-tailed Hummingbird, Colima Pygmy Owl, and Black-throated Magpie Jay. This habitat is also a botanist’s paradise, containing an incredible array of interesting plant life.


We stay at a friendly, basic and clean hotel in the small village of Copala, which is the best lodging close to the good birding areas. Meals are simple. Mexican fare and the Banana Cream Pie is a highlight of the trip!

This trip starts and ends in Mazatlan.

To book your trip or for more information, please contact us by email or call 888-383-0062.