Posted by: vlbyers | May 26, 2010

Copper Canyon Part 2

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!

Ready for the Train

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).

Elephant rock

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 knowledgable guide. When we returned we had a late lunch and then went to the paleontology 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.
May 20-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.

Tarahumara cave

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.

Hotel Cabinas Pioneras

After the hot springs we took the train to Divisadero. This was the elite or first class train which was about double the price and unless you take advantage of the dining car and/or the bar it is not worth the extra money.
At Divisidero we went to Cabanas Pioneras, very quaint hotel similar to an old west town. The owners were very hospitable and the hotel was adequate. We went a few minutes into the ‘town’ of Divisidero which isn’t really a town but there is a hotel Divisadero which is poised on the edge of the canyon. We took advantage of the view from the lounge and relaxed while watching hummingbirds the sunset and playing checkers. Even a better deal if you are able to take advantage of their happy hour, only one hour so be prompt. Dinner at the hotel was disappointing, the service was good but the food did not reach the standards we were expecting.
See Copper Canyon Part 3


  1. Wow, what a hike, hu? Sounds like so much fun! Glad the kids made it though:) And I only have one question. … What exactly is ‘chilly’ at Casa Margarita?

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