A Trip to Copper Canyon

On September 9, we began our trip inland to see Barrancas del Cobre (The Copper Canyon).  This canyon is reported to be four times as large as the Grand Canyon and in places, twice as deep.  There is a train that traverses the canyon and stops at several little towns in which to spend a few days.  

Our trip began with a taxi ride to Guaymas, where we stayed on Sunday night.  We wanted to stay close to the bus station to board our early morning bus. Monday morning we boarded our Tufesa bus to travel south to Los Mochis.  Five hours later we arrived in Los Mochis.  We knew that the Chepe train station was in Los Mochis, so we taxied to the station to purchase our train tickets, with our trip to begin in El Fuerte.  We wanted to see El Fuerte, a colonial town and one of the “Pueblo Magico” cities in Mexico, so we hired a taxi (without air conditioning!) to take us the hour and a half to El Fuerte. The drive took us from hot desert to lush greenery.  We spent the night in a unique hotel right near the town square.  

On Tuesday morning, we caught a cab and drove out of town to the train station.  Here we boarded “Chepe” the regional train headed toward Posada Barrancas.  It was a five hour train ride through amazing scenery.  Always wanting to get good pictures, Dale hung out over a railing between cars to get pictures of the train passing through tunnels and over bridges.  This would never be allowed in the states….but it’s Mexico, where they figure if you make dumb decisions, you suffer the consequences!  

Arriving in Barrancas, we were picked up by a pickup (for luggage) and a van.  We headed up the hill to Mansion Tarahumara.  This was an old inn with a main lobby and dining area and separate quarters for rooms.  We were lucky enough to have a room right on the edge of the canyon!  It was an amazing view, but came with a price….a 10 minute walk up from the dining room (100 foot change in elevation)!  We certainly worked off each meal by the time we arrived  back to our room, but it was worth it!

While in Barrancas, we hiked along the rim and through a cliffside village of the Raramuri people.  These people were some of the first inhabitants in the Copper Canyon.  They are famed for their running abilities and can run for days wearing their traditional clothing and sandals.  The women weave baskets out of pine needles to sell. These people live in cave homes or small huts against the cliffs.  They have communal water systems collected from rain water or if they live in the bottom of the canyon, from the rivers.  Most of these water sources dry up during 3-4 months of the year, so they must have ways of storing water or a secondary source. It’s unbelievable that these people have kept their way of living that they hold sacred for so many years.

On Wednesday, we traveled by bus to the Parque Aventura, a more modern way to visit the canyon.  Here we did a series of seven ziplines and two suspension bridges over the canyon. What an amazing way to view the canyon!  This certainly fulfilled our quota of adrenaline rush for a while!

After a lovely 3 days in Barrancas, it was time to board a bus to travel the hour to Creel, another Pueblo Magico town.  And we did think that Creel was “Magico”!  It was like the old west with a true Mexico feel.  We scheduled an all day tour for Saturday.  Our guide took us to the bottom of the canyon, to waterfalls, along rivers and we hiked along cliffs to view the spectacular canyons.  We viewed the Valley of the Monks with huge rocks standing on end.  We also visited the Valley of the Frogs and Valley of the Mushrooms, each with their own unique rock formations.  What an amazing day we had!

Saturday just happened to be the Independence Day for Mexico.  After our tour, we wandered through town to the Plaza Centro.  Most of the town’s people were visiting the food carts, watching the entertainment and visiting with their neighbors.  We watched dancers from nearby villages doing performances, complete with beautiful costumes.  A woman sang several songs about Mexico’s independence and a few speeches were given from a balcony overlooking the Plaza.  At 10:50pm (the time of Mexico’s independence) an official waved a large flag from the balcony while another rang a loud bell.  Shouts of “Viva Mexico” went up along with fireworks.  We felt honored to be among the few “Gringos” to witness their celebration.  As we walked back to our room, we passed the owner of our hotel.  He had a local drink (similar to tequila), Sotol, the state drink of this area, that he handed Ken, which he drank to shouts of “Viva Mexico”.  

Sunday we spent wandering the town and investigating the various museums and old buildings.  We felt fortunate to be in Creel, it truly is a Pueblo Magico!

Monday morning we boarded the train, Chepe, to travel the 10 hours back to Los Mochis, arriving at 10 p.m.  One more night in a hotel, then taxi to the bus station.

Tuesday was a “short” 5 1/2 hour bus trip back to Guaymas.  We were intrigued by one of the stops.  We were boarded by several military personnel with automatic weapons.  They searched the bus then asked everyone to disembark and bring our bags.  They had a table where they searched our bags while several of the army guys looked on with their guns.  This seemed weird, but not as weird as seeing a lady selling burritos from a table set up next to the check point!  Only in Mexico 🙂

Great dinner in Guaymas

Hotel El Fuerte

Going through one of the 86 tunnels

Heading across one of the 37 bridges

Barrancas del Cobre

The Raramuri people weave great baskets out of pine needles

They are shy and content with the old ways of living

The community watering hole

The entrance to a cave dwelling

Inside the family’s cave home

The Mansion Tarahumara’s dining hall

Crossing one of the canyons

Ready to zipline!

….and here we go!

This is Mexico!

A little help to get started

Crossing one of the canyons

So many beautiful waterfalls


Valley of the Monks

We met these great retired school teachers that spoke no English, yet we communicated and became friends

Wild Burros!

Lake Arareco

Our tour guy, Gustavo of 3 Amigos. What an amazing day!

…came back from a long hot hike to this lovely picnic beside the river, complements of Gustavo

Barrancas del Cobre

We hiked over a guardrail and down a steep hill to find this amazing view of one of the canyons

Rio Urique

Valley of the Monks
Valley of the Mushrooms

Viva Mexico!

Celebrating Mexico’s Independence Day

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