For other places with the same name, see Sonora (disambiguation).
This page describes one of the united states of Mexico. For the individual US towns named Sonora, see Sonora (California) and Sonora (Texas).

Sonora is a desert state in Northern Mexico. While it is not near the top of most people's travel plans, it is not without charm. Its main attractions are its beaches and its magnificent desert, which can be explored in El Pinacate biosphere reserve.



  • 1 Hermosillo — state capital and a bustling city of nearly a million people
  • 2 Agua Prieta — border town with Douglas, Arizona
  • 3 Álamos — a fine colonial town
  • 4 Bahía de Kino — a small but nice beach community near Hermosillo with really nice beaches in a really calm environment
  • 5 Banámichi — a small pueblo on the Rio Sonora founded in 1639
  • 6 Ciudad Obregón — a pleasant city surrounded by scenic mountain views and the warm Sea of Cortez, it is a very popular year-round tourist destination
  • 7 El Desemboque — one of the two largest settlements of the Seri tribe
  • 8 Guaymas — a fishing and resort city
  • 9 Nogales – a border town split between Sonora and Arizona, 50 minutes south of Tucson
  • 10 Puerto Peñasco — called "Rocky Point" by Americans, it is the nearest beach resort to Arizona
  • 11 San Luis Rio Colorado — on the United States border, opposite San Luis, Arizona
  • 12 Ures — historic small town with haciendas and a tale of a heroic battle against imperialist forces in the 19th century

Other destinations



  • Ruta de Rio Sonora - 250 km driving tour of small colonial towns in the Sonora River valley



Sonora's major tourist attraction is its beaches, especially San Carlos, Puerto Peñasco, Bahía Kino and the Gulf of Santa Clara in San Luis Río Colorado.

San Carlos has a large variety of sea life off its shores, making it popular for sports fishing and scuba diving. One of its main attractions is the Playa de los Algodones, called such because its sand dunes look like cotton balls. On one of hills behind it, there is a lookout point which allows for views of the area. A number of Yaquis, Seris and Guaimas on and around the Tetakawi Hill, making a living from fishing.

Puerto Peñasco has experienced large-scale development along its 110 km (68 mi) of beaches, which have calm seas. It is in the extreme northwest of the state. Some of the available activities include jet skiing, boating, sailing, sports fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. It is near El Pinacate biosphere reserve. There is also an aquarium called the Acuario de Cer-Mar, which is a research center open to the public. The aquarium has a number of species such as marine turtles, octopuses, seahorses and many varieties of fish.

Bahía Kino is named after the Jesuit missionary, who visited the area in the 17th century. In the 1930s, a group of fishermen established a village in what is now known as Kino Viejo. This bay's beaches have white sand, with warm calm waters off of them. For this reason, Kino Viejo calls itself la perla del Mar de Cortés (the pearl of the Gulf of California). Available activities include horseback riding, scuba diving and sports fishing.

The Isla Tiburón is 28 km (17 mi) from Bahia Kino in the Gulf of California. It is the largest island of Mexico. It has been declared an ecological reserve to protect its flora and fauna, such as the wild rams and deer that live here.

To enhance tourism in areas away from the primary beaches, the state of Sonora has set up several tourist routes for promotion as well as gained "Pueblo Mágico" status for one of its smaller cities.

  • The Ruta de las Missiones ("Missions Route") covers the principle stops of Jesuit missionary Eusebio Kino, as the worked to establish the many religious institutions which are part of the state's identity. These include the churches and missions in Caborca, Pitiquito, Oquitoa, Átil, Tubutama, Imuris, Cucurpe and Magdalena. In Magdalena, Father Kino remains are at the Padre Kino mausoleum.
  • The Ruta del Río (River Route) follows a seriers of villages and towns along the Sonora River. The state recommends this route in the fall when the chili pepper and peanut harvest occurs. The route includes the settlements of Ures, Baviácora, Aconchi, San Felipe de Jesús, Huépac, Banámichi, Arizpe, Bacoachi and Cananea.
  • The Ruta de la Sierra Alta ("High Mountain Route") winds its way through the highlands of the Sierra Madre Occidental to see the significant peaks and towns of the area. Destinations include the towns Moctezuma, Villa Hidalgo, Huásabas, Granados, Huachinera, Bavispe, Nácori Chico, Fronteras, Nacozari and Cumpas, which have other attractions such as old haciendas, streams, forests and other forms of nature.
  • The Ruta Sierra Mar ("Mountain Sea Route") is located in the south of the state among the towns around Álamos, Navojoa and Huatabampo, which contain many colonial-era constructions. Attractions include the above-mentioned cities along with the Adolfo Ruiz Cortínez, Tetajiosa and El Venadito dams and the town of Etchojoa, which are surrounded by areas of desert and areas with tropical vegetation, around the Mayo River. The route begins in the mountains of Álamos and ends at the beaches of Huatabampo. Travelers can engage in a number of activities such as hunting, birdwatching, boating, kayaking and photography.
  • The Ruta Yécora (Yécora Route) leaves from Hermosillo and makes its way to the town of Yécora, which is one of the highest communities in the mountains of the state. The Yécora area is known for its hunting and the area contains species that can only be found in this part of the state. From Hermosillo to Yécora, there are 280 km (170 mi) of highway, which pass through a number of towns and natural vistas. These include La Colorado mine, San José de Pima on the Mátape River, Tecoripa, San Javier which is surrounded by various hills, Tónichi, Ónavas, Tepoca, San Nicolás and the Mesa de Campanero forest.

Get in


By plane


Hermosillo's International Airport (General Ignacio Pesqueira Garcia HMO IATA) receives flights from several domestic destinations and from Phoenix in the U.S.

By car


From the south from the state of Sinaloa you can access the Federal Highway 15, which is a toll road.

From the north, the state can be accessed through the border with Arizona, through the following points:

  • through the city of Nogales towards Federal Highway 15.
  • through the city of San Luis Río Colorado towards Federal Highway 2 or also along the coastal highway (it reaches Puerto Peñasco).
  • through the city of Sonoyta through the Lukeville AZ border crossing and onto Federal Highway 2 and highway to Puerto Peñasco and the Pinacate Reserve.
  • through the town of Naco towards Cananea or Agua Prieta.
  • by Agua Prieta through the Douglas AZ border crossing towards Cananea and Naco or south towards the Sierra and the Bavispe River.

From Chihuahua you can access from:

  • the highway that comes from Janos and Cd. Juárez goes directly to Agua Prieta.
  • the highway that comes from the City of Chihuahua reaches the town of Yécora in Sonora and continues to Hermosillo and Bahía de Kino.

Through Baja California you reach San Luis Río Colorado from Mexicali, and continue along Federal Highway 2 and also to the coastal highway direct to Puerto Peñasco.

Get around


Sonora is a big state with long distances between towns. A car is the best way to get around the state. Long distance buses serve larger population centers. The hub of bus transportation in the state is in Hermosillo.

Pelicans in San Carlos

The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California — a UNESCO World Heritage site, shared with three other Mexican states.

Sonora has one Pueblo Mágico, which is Álamos, which was called Ostimuri by the native population. This town was founded in 1683, when a mineral deposit by the name of La Europea was discovered. The silver found here made it one of the richest towns in the region. The mines gave out in the 19th century and the town declined. Today, many of the old mansions and other buildings have been restored.

Pinacete volcanic field

The Sonora Desert is a wonderfully calm place. There are also a number of natural reserve areas that are open to visitors and promoted for tourism. These include El Pinacate in the Altar Desert and the Colorado Delta and Upper Gulf of California biosphere reserve. Both of these are near the major resort area of Puerto Peñasco and are some of the driest areas of Mexico.

The Pinacate Nature Reserve, just south of the U.S. border, a stunning example of desert landscape.

  • If you are a meat eater, you must look out for carne asada tacos. The residents of the region are justifiably proud of their beef industry.
  • In Hermosillo you can have lots of different "night food", ranging from tacos de carne asada, sonoran style hotdogs, burro percheron (a burrito on steroids, by this meaning huge), traditional "fondas" and even sushi wagons in some places.
  • In Ciudad Obregón everybody should try "tacos cebositos", one of the city's specialties or having a coconut by "la laguna del Nainari" as well as Horchata de coco.


  • The local brandy is cheap and good.
  • Just like Jalisco has Tequila, Sonora has Bacanora, another drink made out of the distillation of agave. It's a quite famous drink among the northwest of Mexico. It is produced mainly on the Bacanora region on the Sierra region of Sonora



Go next

This region travel guide to Sonora is a usable article. It gives a good overview of the region, its sights, and how to get in, as well as links to the main destinations, whose articles are similarly well developed. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.