Creel

Travel Guide North America Mexico Chihuahua Creel

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Introduction

On the way to Creel

On the way to Creel

© LanaN

If you're after a small town, a rural, Mexican experience, you'll find it in Creel. You can pretty quickly understand why, yet again, all the locals seem to loiter around all day. The simple answer is, there is little else to do. However, for an unwinding couple of days before embarking on the copper canyon trail, this is a great place to do it.

There is a fantastic taqueria up one end of the main street. The earth coloured paint on many of the buildings on this main street only adds to the rural experience. There is a strangely empty Museo de Palientologica (Dinosaur Museum), along the main street. A good hostel is located at the station end of the street. About half way up that same street is a good little bar where you can knock back a couple of beers in front of the fire. It can get really cold at night, so be prepared.

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Sights and Activities

The scenery to the east, south, and west of Creel is breathtaking. The easiest area to access is probably the Mesa to the immediate east of town. This is the location of Lago Arareko, the Rio Conchas canyon, and the Valley of the Frogs and the Monks (Valle de las Ranas, Valle de los Monques).

A good canyon hike is to make your way to Lago Arareko then follow the stream that flows out of the lake (gradually forming Tarahueca canyon) down to the Recohuata Hot Springs area. Plan to camp a night or two down in the canyon, before walking the cobblestone road back up to the rim and the highway where its easy to hitch a ride back into Creel. If hitching fails its downhill all the way along the highway until you reach town so walking is easy.

Mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing are all easy to arrange in Creel. During Semana Santa, helicopter flights through the surrounding canyons are also available (note: Creel is very crowded with Mexican tourists from the large southern cities during the week preceding Easter Sunday).

Mountain bikes can be rented for M$200 (pesos) a day at the 3 Amigos Adventure Tours which is on the main street. This includes helmet, map, tool kit and pump. There are a few easily navigable routes, suitable for riding solo as well.

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone awaits for Mexico's president to ring a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.
  • New Year's Eve. Mexicans celebrate New Year's Eve or locally known as Año Nuevo, by downing a grape with each of the twelve chimes of the bell during the midnight countdown, while making a wish with each one. Mexican families decorate homes and parties, during New Year's, with colors such as red, to encourage an overall improvement of lifestyle and love, yellow to encourage blessings of improved employment conditions, green to improve financial circumstances and white to improved health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm is believed to be blessed with good luck in the new year. One can expect a lot of firecrackers, fireworks and sparklers being fired. At midnight there is a lot of noise and everyone shouts: "Feliz año nuevo!" People embrace, make noise, set off firecrackers, and sing Auld Lang Syne.

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Getting There

By Train

The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico goes to Chihuahua several times a day. In the opposite direction, the train heads west to the town of Los Mochis in Sinaloa state. Heading this direction, the train stops in Divisadero for 20 minutes - here you can grab some gorditas to eat and enjoy the scenic overlook above the canyon.

By Bus

Estrella Blanca buses run about every other hour from Chihuahua City for about US$20 one way. These are local (non-express) buses that make many stops along the way. So, they aren't real fast but are comfortable and convenient nonetheless. For an overview of schedules and connections, check thebusschedule.com. Also check out rome2rio.com.

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Getting Around

By Public Transport

Chevy Suburban trucks act as public transport here, making the 6 hour dangerous journey deep into the canyon to Batoplias every other day. Several gift shops in Creel sell tickets for the journey. This informal system of public transport is a lifeline for folks who live in small villages on the way down to and along the river at the bottom of the canyon.

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Eat

Tio Molca's on the town's main street is perhaps the best place in town. There are many other restaurants but they all have essentially the same menu. The food is good in most of them, but one wishes there was a little more variety available. The hangover hospital (el tuncar) next to the railroad station is something of a local institution and should be given a try. Also at night there are food carts downtown selling tasty hot dogs and burgers (nothing fancy but delicious all the same). During the day there's usually a few grills going near the town's small market area.

  • Pizza del Rey, Av. Lopez Mateos 5. ☎ +52 635. 456 0538.
  • Tio Molcas, Av. Lopez Mateos 35. ☎ +52 635 456 0033. Probably the most popular eating establishment in Creel. There is also a popular but cozy bar that is attached. Regional Mexican food and drinks are good and reasonably priced. Bar has a good mix of locals and tourists. Its a good place to meet guides as well as travelling partners. The bar also has a fireplace which is very nice as Creel often gets cold at night. Open late on weekend nights.
  • Hospital para crudos El Tungar, Centro. ☎ +52 635 456 0130. Not a hospital at all but a very basic diner located right on the train platform in the center of Creel. Breakfasts featuring eggs, beans and tortillas are a good value. Even more filling than the breakfasts are the large (and extra large) steaming bowls of soup; birria, pozole, caldo de res, caldo de pollo and menudo. Seafood selections also show up on the menu and there is a good value comida corrida (a set, full meal) for M$70. The name of this restaurant roughly means "Hospital for Drunks" or "Hangover Hospital' and the hearty, home-cooked meals here will cure whatever ails you.
  • Restaurante Dos Marias, Chapultepec 206. ☎ +52 656 626 7626. Without a doubt the most "fancy" restaurant in all of Creel. Meals here are thoughtfully prepared and pleasantly presented. Local trout (trucha) is served several different ways and grilled meats are served on sizzling cast iron griddles. Restaurante Dos Marias is off the main street in town, tucked away 1 block behind.
  • Restaurante Verónica, Adolfo López Mateos 34, Centro. ☎ +52 635 456 0703. A very good variety of food is served at this main street establishment. Aside from good value breakfasts expect the obligatory tacos, burritos, quesadillas, tortas and hamburgers as well as fillets of beef, seafood, comida corridas and daily specials.
  • Restaurante Lupita, Adolfo López Mateos 64, Centro. Like most restaurants here in Creel, Restaurante Lupita serves good traditional food. Antojitos and full lunch and dinners specials are served in a pleasant family-style dining area. The flour tortillas are handmade at Restaurante Lupita as well as the thick salsas. The shrimp cocktails here are legendary among the locals.

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Sleep

Creel is experiencing a building boom. Each year several new hotels/guesthouses are constructed. The standbys are the same as ever.

Margarita's is the most well known of the bunch. It holds the reputation of being the backpacker center of Copper Canyon, though in 2013 it seemed to be 'upgrading' to a regular hotel. The place is under renovation and dorms are no longer available. While Margarita's used to be a cheapie, private rooms now start at M$500 (US$38), though this can be bargained down somewhat. Free dinner and breakfast is included in the price, though while this used to be served in a common room, you now have to get this at a nearby affiliated hotel.

  • Casa Maria, Lopez Mateos 11. ☎ +52 635 456 0022.
  • Hotel Sierra Azul, Adolfo López Mateos 3, Centro. ☎ +52 635 116 1536. Mid range hotel with a few nice touches in the rooms like desks and individual gas heaters. The hotel provides plenty of parking for guests.
  • Hotel Real de Chapultepec, Oscar Flores 260, Chapultepec. ☎ +52 635 456 0894. Several suites and "superior" rooms here have a rustic, log cabin feel with adobe brick and wood paneled walls. More economical, basic rooms are at the back of the property.
  • Plaza Mexicana Margarita's Hotel, Elfido Batista Sn, Chapultepec. ☎ +52 635 456 0108. The nicest hotel in Creel offers cozy, romantic rooms set around a lush courtyard. There is an on-site restaurant here serving up meals all day.
  • Hotel Los Pinos, Adolfo López Mateos 39, Centro. ☎ +52 635 456 0044. Bright rooms with tile floors and newly remodeled bathrooms make Los Pinos a good value hotel. There is on-site parking here.
  • Hotel Hacienda Bustillos, Av Gran Visión s/n, Centro. ☎ +52 635 456 0531. Just 1 block behind the main street in town, Hacienda Bustillos has nice rooms with wood paneled ceilings and bathrooms with basin-style sinks. A good value.
  • Hotel Paraiso del Bosque, Av. Gran Vision S/N, Centro. ☎ +52 635 456 0444. Each room here is painted a different color and decorated individually. Certain rooms feature kitchenettes.

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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This is version 16. Last edited at 19:19 on Dec 30, 19 by road to roam. 1 article links to this page.

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