Posted by: vlbyers | May 26, 2010

Copper Canyon Adventure part 1

Readers Digest edition of Copper Canyon trip with Long version and pictures below.
For this trip we made no advance reservations on the bus, train or hotel. At this time of year it was wide open but at other busier times it may be a problem. We took info given by other cruisers and by people we talked to on the way, was a real seat of the pants adventure.
May 17- to Marina Mazatlan to check the boat in, taxi to Mazatlan bus station and Bus to Los Mochis about 299 pesos each, 6 hour bus ride. Hotel in Los Mochis was Hotel Fenix, adequate.
May 18-Early rising to take the 0700 train to Creel. 10 hours on the economy or 2nd class which is fine. Creel hotel was Casa Margaritas where we stayed 3 nights.
May 18-21 Spent in Creel visiting waterfall, lake, mission, Tarahumara indian caves, hot springs and the town. Casa Margaritas leaves much to be desired in the way of ‘bedside manner’ the food was just marginal, the rooms were fine but our guide Rodrigo saved the day. He was bilingual, english and spanish, very knowledgable and friendly and not too pushy unless he had several groups he was trying to organize at the same time-he is a businessman! After the Hot springs we took the train to Divisadero. That evening we spent in the Divisadero hotel, having drinks in the hotel bar/lounge and enjoying the magnificent vista, hummingbirds and sunset-totally worth the price of admission especially if you hit their happy hour, exactly one hour. Dinner was also at the hotel but disappointing, would have rather spent my money elsewhere. In Divisadero we stayed at the Cabanas Pioneras, a very quaint hotel, breakfast included.
May 21- At the hotel we took the tour on horseback to view 3 spectacular vistas of the canyon on horseback. This was one of our highlights, the horses were a bit on the lean side but they did well on this challenging trail. After the horseback ride we took the train to Bahuichivo, we took the first class train and unless you want to partake in the dining car and bar, not worth the double price ticket in our opinion. From Bahuichivo we were met by Francia of the Jade restaurant who took us to her place. Turned out to be nice, the Jade restaurant and hotel, food was a step up and hospitality quite a bit improved.
May 22- Alberto, her husband took us on a trip to the Urique canyon, except for the first lookout the rest of the 5 hour dusty, mountain cliff drive could have been skipped. Urique is a nice enough town but nothing special and not worth a 5 hour roundtrip dirt road. After the Urique canyon tour we took the train to El Fuerte and checked in to the Rio Vista hotel for 50 bucks a night this was the nicest hotel we stayed in the entire trip.
May 22-24 We spent the remainder of our time here in El Fuerte, lots to do and see. We were only blocks away from the center of town and many restaurants and museums, not to mention right next to the Fort, for which the town was named for. We visited the museums, hotels and many restaurants here in town. Also took a walk along the river to the petroglyphs, quite interesting, bring water and go early in the day. After our visit to the petroglyphs we hopped on a bus to Los Mochis and then on another bus to Mazatlan. Here is where we struck gold, spend the extra and take a bus that has not only air cond, TVs and bathrooms but only 3 seats per row, and headphones for the TVs-we were even given a meal upon boarding. This was a long day of travelling but comfortable and we arrived in Mazatlan about 11 pm and were able to easily find a pulmonia (taxi) to take us back to the marina.
This was a great adventure and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to see the country where they are. It was affordable, although we did have the bargainer of the century in Michael, I am sure you could do almost as well, lots to do and see and everyone was helpful when it came to answering questions we had about what to do and where to go.
For Pictures and more detail about our trip see Part 2 and Part 3

May 18, 2010
The boat is now in Marina Mazatlan while we take an inland tour to the copper canyon. We hopped on our bus this morning for the 6 hour ride to Los Mochis. This is a very nice town, clean, middle class looking with many nice neighborhoods and well kept modern houses, probably one of the few of it’s kind that we have seen. We had a nice dinner at a restaurant close by and will be getting up early to take a taxi to our train for the 12 hour trip to Creel. It is nice to share some of our adventure with our friends from Whatcha gonna do, tomorrow I look forward to beating the kids in a game of uno!
Our first night was spent in Los Mochis at a very comfortable hotel called the Fenix and also quite reasonable at about 350 pesos (less than 35 dollars) per night. The following day we got in a taxi early in the morning to head to the train station. We were able to book our trip for that day for about 50 dollars each all the way to Creel. Since we decided to take the least expensive train we stopped many times, mostly for only a few minutes to pick up or drop off passengers. For the first hour I wondered if we hadn’t gotten on the 24 hour line, this train was travelling slower than I could have walked! We then picked up speed but never had the experience of travelling on an american rail and nothing like a European one at all, still it was clean, well staffed by guards and got us to our destination. We did have one stop at Divisidero where we were able to leave the train for 15 minutes and take a look over the canyon, the only stop that we could actually see the canyon. The rest of the trip was beautiful but nothing different from what we would see in eastern Washington or Oregon, unless you count the 100 or so tunnels, very amazing. This is the only train system in all of Mexico and seemed well used by not only tourists but local Mexicans, probably most on vacation too.
We arrived in Creel, a quaint ‘old west’ type town at about 5:30 and were promptly ‘greeted’ by many of the local hotels to attempt to be the first, or the pushiest, to get our business. We ended up staying at Casa Margarita, right on the corner of the square and within easy walk from the train station. The room is very basic, the water turns off about 11pm(thank goodness I talked Larry into taking a shower earlier!!) and then back on about 6 in the morning. We have a TV, didn’t turn it on, and WiFi, very nice, hot and cold running water,(when it is on) and a heater (chilly at the 8000 ft altitude).
Our first full day we took a tour which included seeing the rock formations around the area which looked like mushrooms and frogs, a ‘man made’ lake, waterfall (our friends kids were happy I joined them in the icy cold pools, and I was happy they were there to encourage me), a mission and the Terahumara indians living in the caves. It was a full day of sightseeing and walking and hiking. All in all a great way to see much of what is around this little town at a very reasonable price for our large van and knowlegable guide. When we returned we had a late lunch and then went to the Palentology and the Artisans Museums, both were quite interesting. I think tomorrow we plan to hit the hot springs and then head to the next train station Pasado Barancas where we will spend a day or two.
After breakfast we were ready to head out to the hot springs. After the bus ride of about 1/2 hour we started the 3.5 k ‘walk’ down a cobblestone road at about a 25% grade going down to the hot springs, this took about an hour. There were 2 large pools and 2 smaller pools where the water cascades down the rocky mountain into the man made pools. The mini warm waterfalls makes for a nice massage as we placed our bodies under the water. 2 of the pools had tepid water and the other 2 were warmer, probably 95 degrees or so. The water felt good even though the weather was pretty hot as a cool breeze blew quite briskly through the area, it was actually cold when we exited the water. After about 1 hour in the pools we took a break and made some lunch then had about 15 more minutes to enjoy the pools before heading back. Remember we came down a 25% grade, we were told to plan for 1 1/2 hours for the walk up. At this time it is about 1:30 in the heat of the day and very little in the way of shade on the road. We made sure we had plenty of water and took our time making it to the top in a little over an hour, not bad for old folks. Our friends with their 2 children had a tougher time, the 11 year old girl did great, paced herself and made it right up. Their son had more of a challenge and didn’t want to continue part of the way up-mom didn’t know what to do since she was already carrying her own and his backpacks and knew she would not be able to carry her son as well. Dad, after making it to the top, went back to check on them to be sure all was well, he was able to ‘convince’ his son to walk the remainder of the way.
We all were quite happy to see the ‘entrance’ gate at the top of the hill, I was amazed that the kids did so well as there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t be able to go on, it is a very challenging hike made harder by the heat and humidity. The trip was well worth the effort and I would do it again, the only thing I would change is to have more time at the pools. We could have explored more of the river and walked around the area but we didn’t have enough time. The tours were given by a knowledgable guide Rodrigo, great guide I would recommend him highly. He plans his tours to maximize his time, sometimes juggling 2 different tours, did I mention he is smart too? 1 1/2 hours is not enough time so ‘volunteer’ to wait longer while he takes care of another tour.
Our next stop was


  1. Sounds like a great trip…I love your blog. Steve is digging fence posts, building arbors, painting etc. I am back at work trying to replentish the kitty for the big wedding in august. So sorry I didn’t get to visit with you guys at Punta Mita, but I know we will meet again. Your adventure to Copper Canyon sound fabulous I am disapointed we didn’t make it there. Sounds like the seas are a bit disturbing…all part of the deal. I promise to continue reading just keep writing and be safe!

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