Divisadero – the highlight of the Copper Canyon
“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.
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.
Doing the longest zipline in the world
Here’s what I did:
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. Note: the hotel gives a free tour of the area around the hotel. That’s how I knew where to go for my hike.
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.
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.
There’s lots of fun activities here if you’ve been thinking of doing something extreme.
– 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 (video at the top of this post)
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
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.
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.
Above: a last view of the Canyon at Divisadero.
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.
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, you can book here.
Related: What to See and Do in Mexico
A few helpful links
- ‘El Chepe’ website. You’ll find the schedules as well as a lot more info on this fabulous train journey.
- Adventure Park Copper Canyon. I’ve mentioned some of the adventure activities they offer – you’ll see details and photos on the site.
- Hotel Divisadero Barrancas website for more photos of this beautiful hotel.
Have you been to Divisadero? Let me know what you thought of it.
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