We spent a couple of days on the edge of the canyons at the tourist center of Creel, and caught our first glimpse into the canyon at Divisadero.
One of the worst times to travel in Mexico is the Christmas holidays, because that’s when many Mexicans hit the road. While we were in Chihuahua, we looked for hotels on booking.com for our next destination in Creel. Our day of arrival was New Year’s Eve, and we found only one available online below $100/night, but we decided to take our chances and try to find something when we arrived. We got to Creel in the mid-afternoon after a 5-hour bus ride from Chihuahua, and found a nice family-run hotel near the bus stop for less than $25/night. We were delighted that the long arm of booking.com hasn’t yet reached deep into Mexico.
We were anxious to get into the canyons, but the next bus to Batopilas was scheduled to leave New Years Day morning. No one knew if it was actually going to run, so we decided to spend New Year’s Day in Creel. We wandered into the office of Tres Amigos, where we booked an all-day private tour for the next day on the spur of the moment. Everyone was spending New Year’s Eve at private parties in the hotels, so we just went back to our hotel after dinner to prepare for our early start the next day.
The next morning we met Ivan, our personable and English-speaking tour guide, and started our tour of the High Sierra at the canyon’s rim. When he found out that we planned to go down into Batopilas the next day, he changed our whole touring plan. He confirmed that it was possible to go from Batopilas (in Copper Canyon) to Urique (in Urique Canyon) via four wheel drive, without backtracking to the canyon rim. He made some phone calls and gave us some names of people to contact once we got to Batopilas.
Since we were going to make the Batopilas-Urique traverse, we would be missing the canyon overlook at Divisadero. If you are taking the train through the canyon from Chihuahua, you first see into the canyon at Divisadero. The train stops for 15 minutes so that everyone can rush to the overlook for their first glimpse into the canyon. Some people stay overnight here at the expensive hotel on the rim.
Divisadero is building the infrastructure for a major tourist onslaught. There is a cable car that goes halfway down into the canyon. A long and fast zip line covers the same route. There is also a longer and slower course of seven zip lines and two suspension bridges that takes you to the same place. I really didn’t want to do the touristy zip lines OR cable car, but Bruce did, and Ivan strongly suggested we do one of the zip lines. We decided to do the long course, which took us about 1 1/2 hours. Here I am getting unhooked from one of the lines.
Here’s Bruce on the first suspension bridge.
We took the cable car back up to the edge of the canyon, and walked the overlook trail back to the train station.
The next stop was Petra’s cave. Petra and her family have been living in this cave her whole life. Tourist donations from cave visits make it possible for her to keep living here.
Late in the afternoon, we toured the Valleys of the Mushrooms, Frogs, and Monks, which all have spectacular formations formed from the erosion of volcanic rocks. The name “Valley of the Monks (below)” is just the sanitized tourist version. The local Tarahumara Indians call it the Valley of the Erect Penises.
Tres Amigos runs a solid operation in Creel, and I highly recommend them. They also rent bikes which would be a good thing to do if you can spend several days in Creel.
Next: In the Canyon!