Divisadero – my favorite stopover in the Copper Canyon, Mexico

“Why are you staying over at Divisadero? It’s a train stop, it’s not even a real town”.

The question was posed by the owner of one of those companies that I had contacted about tours through the Copper Canyon.

Spending the night in Divisadero ended up being the highlight of my trip through the Copper Canyon.

It’s true that Divisadero is basically just a train stop. You get off the train and there are some little food and souvenir stalls. Walk through them (it takes about a minute) and you get to a viewpoint overlooking the canyon. The views are incredible. Next to the viewpoint, with its own great views, is the only accommodation in Divisadero – the Hotel Divisadero Barrancas. That’s where I was staying.

Above: handicrafts for sale…and the view.

Above: sign and hotel, right next to the lookout.
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When I had planned to see the Copper Canyon I had three things in mind: 1) great views, 2) hiking opportunities, 3) Adventure (including the longest zipline in the world). I was in Divisadero less than 24 hours but I achieved all my objectives.
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Here’s what I did:

 

A. Hike

From the hotel, there are 2 directions to go: out the main entrance (which will lead you in the direction of Adventure Park) or out the back door. If you go out the back door it will lead you out of the property of the hotel. Stick to your right. It will lead you on a cement path over a ravine and up a little hill. Once you’re up that hill (about 10 minutes since leaving the hotel) you’ll come to a little cement house (it’s actually a little store where you can buy water and snacks). On your right are views over the gorge. You’ll see two paths at this juncture: one that goes up a bit (this leads to some makeshift stalls where Tarahumara Indians sell souvenirs), one goes right along the ridge. Take the one that goes right.

Below: views looking back at the hotel and train station


Below: along the path

Below: where the path leads. You can easily get from the hotel to this viewpoint in less than 30 min.

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The views over the canyon at this point are phenomenal. You can climb some of the rocks for different vantage points. The Copper Canyon is actually made up of 6 canyons and at this point you are looking into the Urique Canyon, the deepest of the canyons in the Sierra Tarahumara at 1,879 m (6,200 feet) deep. The Canyon is approximately 4 km (2.5 miles) wide at this point.

Sitting there, all by myself without another human in sight, was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had. It’s hard at first to comprehend the scope of the landscape in front of you. It almost feels like a painting laid out in front of you. At a certain point you realize just how high you are and that it’s very real. I was sitting there on the rock when I suddenly felt the breeze pick up. I have to admit that I had a momentary panic attack. It’s a very easy hike, just be careful of how close you get to the edge and keep in mind how exposed you are to the elements. 

Below: Back at the hotel and feeling safe behind the window in the bar lounge.

 

B. Wake up to see the Sunrise.

I set my alarm and was sitting on my balcony with a cup of coffee when the sun came up the next morning. Like most people, I don’t like waking up early – but seeing the light falling over the canyon was one of those special moments.

 

C. Walk to Adventure Park – and do the longest zipline in the world.

It’s about a 30 min walk to Adventure Park from Hotel Divisadero Barrancas. I left at 8:30 (the park opens at 9) with the intention of spending a few hours and being back at the hotel by noon to catch the 1 pm train (Note: yes, that’s enough time to explore Adventure Park)

What I didn’t expect was that most of the walk is along a really nicely built path along the edge of the rim with lots of lookouts like you see below. I really recommend that you walk this path even if not going to Adventure Park.



Ironically, the nice path ends when entering the grounds of Adventure Park. Then you have about 10 minutes of walking along a dirt road to get to where all the facilities are.
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Adventure Park

There’s lots of fun activities here if you’ve been thinking of doing something extreme.

You can:

– do the High Ropes Course which includes rappelling down a cliff, crossing a rickety suspension bridge while high above the canyon floor, swinging on cables…
– do some extreme bike riding on the paths through the canyon
– rent an ATV and ride around the rim of the canyon
– do the longest zipline in the world

For those less adventurous:

– you can take the teleferico (cable car over the canyon)
– or, if you are like some people I know, you can go to the restaurant and eat while enjoying the views.

Below: the teleferico

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I did the longest zipline in the world. Here’s how that went.

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When you’ve finished the zipline, you have to walk a path up to the 2nd teleferico station (700 m. It’ll take you about 15 minutes). More great views here:

Above: getting on the teleferico for the return trip to the rim of the canyon.
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I wish I had time to do more activities but I had to go back to the hotel and take a shower before taking the train that afternoon to Los Mochis.
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Above: a last view of the Canyon at Divisadero.
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Summing it up, I loved my short stay in Divisadero. For me, “visiting Copper Canyon” was as much about experiencing the canyon as it was taking the train (‘El Chepe’ as it is called) through the region. Unlike in Creel, I really feel that I experienced the Copper Canyon in Divisadero.

[A detailed post on the El Chepe. Great experience].

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Hotel Divisadero Barrancas

I should mention the hotel because it is the only accommodation in Divisadero.


It’s a beautiful, romantic kind of hotel. It was built in the 1970’s and is an institution. The main building is beautiful and the bar especially is gorgeous with its views. The rooms are large and each has a balcony looking out over the canyon. It’s the kind of place you want to bring your wife or girlfriend.

Having said all that, it could also be a lot better. Service is not very good, food is not good at all (and is overpriced), and there’s a sense that things are being neglected. In my room for example, both nightlights were not functioning. You just get a sense that management just doesn’t care very much. Maybe because it’s the only hotel in town and because it’s nearly always full. Still, for $100 US, it is still good value considering the incredible location and the beautiful, large rooms. When I left I kind of regretted not having stayed a 2nd night.

If you’re thinking of staying at Hotel Divisadero Barrancas, please consider booking through our link (click the Booking.com icon below). It saves you money while also giving us a small commission. We use Booking.com because we never have to pay upfront.

booking with bbqboy skinny

 

A few helpful links

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Have you been to Divisadero? Let me know what you thought of it.

 

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Comments

  1. We loved Divisadero as well and another small community a little further down the road. We left our motorhome in the parking lot of the hotel you stayed at while we took the train and stayed over night in El Fuerte and then back the next day.

    We also stayed the night boondocking at the end of the “runway” in the adventure park for one night, it was so beautiful and peaceful there. Enjoyed the hike along the ridge too and the zipline. we can’t wait to go back and spend more time exploring the canyon.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Kevin/Ruth for the feedback. How did the two of you like El Fuerte?

      • Seemed nice enough but we weren’t there long enough, when we arrived it was dark (went did the train trip at the beginning of January)so we walked around and found a place for dinner and admired some of the views in town and then the next day we were up early to catch the train back to Divisadero. Hopefully we will make it to El Fuerte in our motorhome and have more time to spend there.

        We loved the train ride and enjoyed our 3 or 4 days in and around Divisadero when we arrived back there. We even went for a great hike way down into the canyon. Next time we go we want to hike down to the town at the bottom and stay a few days and then hike back up .

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Good for you, 3 or 4 days! In hindsight I wish I had spent more time there and cut down on my time in Creel (which everyone considers a ‘must see’ but which really doesn’t have any views). A hike into the canyon must be spectacular. Who knows, maybe I make i back one day…
          Yes, Divisadero to El Fuerte covers the most impressive stretch of El Chepe and you got to see it twice. Great planning. The whole thing (16 hours from Chihuahua to Los Mochis) was a real journey and I think I spent most of that time with my head out of the window between carriages. I’m so impressed by the whole history behind the train line.
          Copper Canyon though was fantastic and I’m so happy I got to see it. Also amazed by how few foreign tourists I saw along the way.
          Thanks for taking the time to write about your experience.

  2. We also spent several days in Creel and did a couple of hikes where we got some nice views of the area.

    Loved the train ride. We only did it from Divisadero to El Fuerte and back but like you we stood most of the time with our heads out the window between the cars! Fantastic scenery. I think in total we most of spent over a week in the Copper Canyon area and that still wasn’t enough time. Can’t wait to go back. If you wanted to see some of the things we did in Creel or after Divisadero then just go forward or backward from the post in my original comment. Glad that you went, I know that you normally go to Mexico at least once a year and it is nice to see that you came up to Copper Canyon, some people just don’t know what they are missing by not making their way up there!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Could you give me the link to that post of yours Kevin/Ruth?

      When you initially commented the link didn’t work and when I googled it nothing came up.

      I’d be interested in having a look at it if you have the link to the post you are referring to.

      • Your comment system won’t let me put it in but if you google “kevin and ruth more spectaular stuff” you should see it. Or if you go to the blog archive on the right hand side and go to January 2015 and then scroll down you can look at the things we did right from when we arrived in Creel, that post will say Guachochi to Creel – Wow!, hope that will help.

        Ruth

  3. Frank zip lines so you don’t have to. 🙂 (mahalo!) Having read “Born to Run” a couple times it’s fun reading your version of the Copper Canyon.

  4. Gorgeous canyon. I haven’t done a Zipline yet, looks incredible. How fast do you go Frank?

  5. Hi Frank

    Thanks for your excellent as always posting, impressions and information. We haven’t been to Copper Canyon but it will go on the list-given that the Grand Canyon has a zillion visitors and is always so crowded-this seems as impressive but without the massive crowds.

    Paul and I are back in CA now-figuring out the next chapter of “plan”. Really want to make it back to Europe by next Spring. We enjoyed our time in Southern Italy and could almost see Croatia on the other side!

    Safe travels
    Paula recently posted…A Town Made of Stone Part 2My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Paula. Yes, I was wondering about you guys and what the next step was. I remember you had a similar dilemma with tenants as we did…(I’ve now sold the condo – now more having to plan around uncertainty).
      I’ve never seen the Grand Canyon and would probably be shocked by the differences. I think you can see from the photos how few tourists were around. Surprised me actually, especially the lack of foreign tourists. But met a LOT of really nice Mexican tourists, they enjoy visiting their own country. Was a GREAT experience. Only thing I would suggest though is that it really helps if you speak a bit of Spanish…
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Divisadero – my favorite stopover in the Copper Canyon, MexicoMy Profile

  6. I’ve yet to do a zipline ride but wow-oh-wow it looks like fun although I think I’d be screaming along the way! Divisadero obviously needs a warning for those with a fear of heights but your photos show a place that’s uniquely, incredibly beautiful. I put the train ride through the Copper Canyon on our list of must see and dos years ago when I first read about it and I hope someday to make a return trip to Mexico and have an opportunity to follow your footsteps. Absolutely gorgeous!
    Anita recently posted…Terezin: If A Picture Paints A Thousand WordsMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      It was right in your backyard Anita!
      I’m sure you’ll be back in Texas one day and you really should visit Copper Canyon. Really was one of the most fantastic travel experiences I’ve had (which I’m covering in my next post). And you know what? Doesn’t take much planning, is easy to do independently, and is not expensive. Great great experience.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Divisadero – my favorite stopover in the Copper Canyon, MexicoMy Profile

  7. What a fantastic place! The zip line looks awesome – thanks for sharing the ride! I’d love to head back that way again, so unspoiled and stunning. I think most people would know so little about Mexico and the variety of scenery there. It’s fun following your journey.
    Jane recently posted…Road Trip Around Australia?My Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you so much Jane. You are right about the scenery in Mexico. Most people think beaches – funny enough I haven’t been to any in my last 5 visits here.

  8. It looks absolutely beautiful there. Dizzying heights but what gorgeous views. Th hotel looks very nice. It’s a good “only” choice. It kind of reminds me of taking the aerial tram in Palm Springs :-).
    Kemkem recently posted…Love, Hate And Severe Unease In Warsaw PolandMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes about the hotel. But I’m reminded of one thing as I’m sitting here in a cafe in Montreal (because I’m having internet problems in my airbnb) – there was no wifi in this fancy hotel. They tell you there’s wifi in the bar lounge…but it doesn’t work. Which is kind of strange these days.
      Other than that thought it IS beautiful and the location perfect.

  9. Looks utterly amazing and despite my fear of heights I reckon I’d enjoy the zipline. I was going to ask you about the train ride but I see that you’ve just posted about the train so I’ll be heading over to that post. Looks terrific Frank!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…PanRussia Panorama – Irkutsk, Baikal and EkanterinburgMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      You know, I had almost backed out but then I saw an overweight middle-aged lady doing it – and thought “if she can do it, I have to do it as well”.
      Ended up being a piece of cake. And since it’s the world’s longest you kind of have to do it, right?

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