The Northern High Plateau region occupies the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Durango, the north of Zacatecas and the north of San Luis Potosí, roughly limited by the Sierra Madre Occidental and Sierra Madre Oriental mountains. Highlands, mesas and plains characterize the region.
To the west, in Chihuahua, Mexico’s largest forest reserve is found, home to pines, sacred firs, white cedars and encino oaks, deer, squirrel, foxes, wild turkeys, golden eagles, ducks, geese and quail. In contrast, mesa and lowland vegetation is desert-like: mesquite, wild lettuce, creosote, guayule and ocotillo, and is home to tortoises, rattlesnakes, quail, doves, prairie dogs, porcupines, desert foxes, coyotes, and boars as well as endangered bears, wolves and mountain rams. Freshwater bodies host trout, catfish, carp and nutrias.
In Coahuila’s flatlands, predominating flora include creosote, wild lettuce, yucca, barrel cactus, cat’s claw and giant cardon that cohabit with black turtles, rattlesnakes, lizards, gila monsters, egrets and scorpions. In mountain areas, predominant flora include pine and encino oak forests inhabited by whitetail deer, black boars, pumas, nearly extinct black bears, eagles and white-winged doves. The state is also home to one of the world’s most important natural zones, the Cuatro Ciénegas Biosphere Reserve.
Flora such as yucca, agaves, creosote, wild lettuce and damiana predominate in Nuevo León’s flatlands and provide a home for collar ducks, chachalacas, tlalcoyote badgers, boars, coyotes, skunks, hares and roadrunners. The state’s mountainous areas support pine, cedar, sacred fir, encino oak and zacatonal highland forest that are home to mallard ducks, mourning dove, white dove, mountain lion and white-tailed deer.
Plant life such as mixed pine and encino oak forests predominate in Zacatecas’s mountainous areas and are home to boars, whitetail deer and hares; valleys and plains areas are populated with mesquites, creosotes, huisaches, prickly pear cactus, wild lettuce, guayules and grasslands where coyotes, quail, badgers and ducks live.
The mountainous areas of Durango are dominated by conifer, encino oak, strawberry tree and cedar forests where whitetail deer, wolves, squirrels, swallows, barn owls, bears and wild turkeys, the last two species endangered, live. The predominating flora in valleys are grasslands that have been gradually replaced with cultivated fields. Semi-desert zones feature prickly pear, peyote, barrel and agave cacti; animal life includes rattlesnakes, prairie dogs and scorpions. In the Bolsón de Mapimí area common flora include agaves, catkin, wild lettuce and ocotillo that are home to an endemic turtle now in danger of extinction.
Chihuahua’s principal economic activities are manufacturing and agriculture—wheat, oats, soy, corn, peanuts, beans, nuts, peach, cotton, grape and orange cultivation, mostly on seasonal fields—and the state is also Mexico’s number-one producer of apples, oats and onions. Other important activity includes ranching alongside milk production and a cheese and confectionary industry; there is also forestry and mining. Zacatecas’s principal economic activities are mining, manufacturing and agriculture; principal products include beans, carrots, prickly pears, peaches and different kinds of chile. Mining is still the main economic activity in Coahuila, alongside other manufacturing industries and logging. The nation’s first wine industry was established in the state as well. Trade, financial services and mining, as well as agriculture—especially citrus—and livestock and egg farming are Nuevo León’s most relevant activities. Durango cultivates oats, wild corn and goat milk and is also home to mining and logging companies.