Things to do in Creel

Chepe has recently launched a brand new train called Chepe Express! As a result, schedules for the old train, now called Chepe Regional, have changed. This page has been updated to reflect the recent changes.

INTRODUCTION

Most people looking for things to do in Creel will find themselves visiting its outskirts, as it’s the towns surroundings that put Creel on the tourist map. With a population of just over 5000, the town consists of only a few streets but plenty of hotels and tour companies eager to help you explore the natural beauty around the town.

Creel was once primarily a logging town and the last stop of the Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway, the predecessor to El Chepe. Once the Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacifico (Chepe) was completed in 1961, Creel’s tourism started to pick up and has now become its primary economy.

The town sits 2345 m (7700 ft) above sea level and the temperature can therefore vary quite a bit between seasons.

  • November-March: daytime temperatures are 12 to 20°C (54 to 68°F) while temperatures at night are 0 to -6 °C (32 to 21°F) but have dropped as low as -22°C (-8°F). It does snow on occasion in Creel.
  • April-October: daytime temperatures are 20 to 30°C (68 to 86°F), while temperatures at night are 0 to 10°C (32 to 50°F). The rainy season is July-August and sometimes September.

The best time to visit is September-October as the vegetation is lush and the rivers full, but it’s easy to find things to do in Creel any time of year.

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Where is Creel?

The town of Creel is located in the south-western portion of the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. It’s about 280 km (175 mi) from the state capital, the city of Chihuahua, and takes about 5.5 hours to reach by train.

If traveling via El Chepe, Creel is the first major stop on a Copper Canyon journey leaving from Chihuahua. The town isn’t situated in the canyon system but rather just on the outskirts. Surrounded by plenty of natural wonders and native culture, it’s well worth a visit.

How to get to Creel

The two primary forms of transportation to and from Creel are train and bus.

By Train

Southbound

The Chepe Regional leaves Chihuahua at 6:00 am on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and arrives in Creel at 11:47 am. After stopping for a couple of minutes, the train continues on to Divisadero and ultimately Los Mochis.

Although there is no Chepe Express from Chihuahua to Creel, the train does depart Creel daily at 6:00 am heading towards Divisadero and ultimately Los Mochis.

Northbound

The Chepe Regional leaves Los Mochis at 6:00 am on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and arrives in Creel around 3:40 pm. If coming from Divisadero or Posada Barrancas, you can catch the train to Creel at 1:45 pm. From Creel, the train continues on to Cuahtémoc and reaches its final destination of Chihuahua at 9:34 pm.

The Chepe Express leaves Los Mochis daily at 3:50 pm and arrives in Creel at 12:55 am (in the middle of the night). If coming from Divisadero, you can catch the train to Creel at 11:30 pm.

For more details about train schedules and prices, check out the article How to Visit Copper Canyon by Train.

By Bus

To or from Chihuahua

There are two bus companies with routes between the city of Chihuahua and Creel: Rápidos Cuauhtémoc (Estrella Blanca) and Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste. The ride is 4.5-5 hours and both companies have stations in the centre of Creel, very close to the train station. Marked on the map above.

Rápidos Cuauhtémoc buses leave Creel for Chihuahua 8 times daily between 6:30 am and 4:45 pm. Buses leaving Chihuahua for Creel depart the Central Bus Terminal, marked on the Chihuahua page map. Six buses head to Creel daily between 5:30 am and 4:45 pm. Tickets cost $288 MXP.

Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste have 8 daily departures for Chihuahua between 6:45 am and 5:00 pm. Buses leaving Chihuahua for Creel depart the Noroeste bus station, marked on the Chihuahua page map, every two hours between 5:45 am and 5:45 pm. Tickets are $260 MXP.

To Divisadero

Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste also runs between Creel and Divisadero every 2 hours from 10:30 am till 6:30 pm. The ride is only about an hour long and will allow you more flexibility than the train.

Things to do in Creel

Creel is a small town consisting primarily of two street. There isn’t much to do in the town itself but the surrounding area is packed with natural wonders and Rarámuri culture. The main sights to see are organized by location below.

If you want to see the sights on your own you can walk or rent either a bicycle or a motorbike. Check with your hotel to see if they have bikes, otherwise there are a few places scattered around town where you’ll find rentals.

If you’d like to book a tour you can choose from ATVs, horseback riding or a van. Most companies offer half-day, full-day and multi-day tours to choose from.

  • Town of Creel

    The two major attractions in the town of Creel itself are the Museo de la Casa de las Artesanías, found just steps from the train station, and the Artesanías Misión, found on the main square.

    Casa de las Artesanías is a small museum containing a collection of photographs of Rarámuri culture. It’s a fairly basic museum but it’s cheap and a great place to learn more about the natives who have made the canyon system their home. Entrance is $10 MXP.

    Artesanías Misión is a little handicraft shop where you can find many of the traditional Rarámuri crafts and help support their local economy.

    How to see the town of Creel

    ModeTimeDifficulty LevelPrice (USD)
    Walk2-5 minutesSuper Easy$1

*scroll left or right to view entire table*

  • San Ignacio de Arareco

    Just a few kilometres from the town of Creel is a 20,000-hectare piece of land run by a Rarámuri community. Here you can visit some of the natural wonders which make Creel a popular tourist spot, as well as learn a bit about Rarámuri life.  There is a $20 MXP fee per person to enter the area and additional fees for some of the sights. The money goes directly to the Rarámuri community.

    The first sight you’ll have an opportunity to visit is San Sebastian cave, approximately 3.4 km from Creel. It’s a simple but typical Rarámuri dwelling where you can take a look around and purchase handmade crafts. There’s no entrance fee but a small donation is greatly appreciated.

    About 5 km from Creel you’ll find the Valley of the Mushrooms (Valle de los Hongos) and the Valley of the Frogs (Valle de las Ranas). Both are a series of natural rock formations closely resembling mushrooms and frogs.

    Close to the mushroom and frog rocks you’ll see San Ignacio Mission, an 18th-century Jesuit-built church still used by the local Rarámuri on Sundays.

    To see more odd rock formations head a few kilometres up the road to the Valley of the Monks (Valle de los Monjes). It’s roughly 11 km from Creel and there’s an additional $15 MXP fee per person to reach this site.

    About 10 km from Creel is Lake Arareco, a great place to snap some photos, have a picnic or rent a paddle boat depending on the season.

    How to see San Ignacio de Arareco

    ModeTimeDifficulty LevelPrice (USD)
    Walk
    (not inc. Valley of the Monks)
    2.5-3 hours
    (one-way)
    Easy/Moderate$1
    (entrance fee only)
    Bike2 hours
    (one-way)
    Moderate$10-30
    Motorbike1.5 hours
    (one-way)
    Easy$70-150
    ATV tour3 hoursEasy$100 (2 people)
    Horseback riding tour*2-4 hoursEasy$25-45
    Van tour1/2 dayEasy$150 (4 people)

    *For horseback riding tours we recommend El Aventurero as their horses are well cared for and their tours are very professional.

  • Recohuata Hot Springs

    Here you can relax in one of three concrete pools of naturally heated water. The Recohuata Hot Springs are a few kilometers beyond San Ignacio de Arareco, roughly 22 km from Creel but are located at the bottom of the Tararecua Canyon making them somewhat difficult to access without a vehicle. Entrance is $20 MXP.

    How to see the Recohuata Hot Springs

    ModeTimeDifficulty LevelPrice (USD)
    Walk6.5 hours
    (one-way)
    Moderate/Difficult$1
    Bike2.5-3 hours
    (one-way)
    Difficult$10-30
    Taxi30 minutes
    (one-way)
    Easyunknown
    Tour4-6 hoursEasy$80-100 (4 people)

  • Cusárare

    A few kilometers beyond the San Ignacio de Arareco community and 25 km from Creel is the village of Cusárare and the Cusárare Mission. Jesuit missionaries built the mission in the 18th-century but the interior wall-paintings were done by the Rarámuri in the 1970s.

    If you’re visiting during the rainy season (July-Sept), or just after, it’s definitely worth a visit to Cusárare Waterfall. It’s located just a few km from Cusárare Village, or 22 km from Creel. Known in Spanish as Cascada de Cusárare, this 30 m drop is a beautiful, rushing cascade of water when the river is full but just a trickle once the rivers dry up by April/May. There is an entrance fee of $20 MXP.

     How to see Cusárare

    ModeTimeDifficulty LevelPrice (USD)
    Bike5-6 hours
    (one-way)
    Moderate/Difficult$10-30
    Van tour1/2 day or full dayEasy?

Hotels in Creel

Despite being a small town there are a fair number of places to choose from when looking for accommodations. That said, it’s best to book a hotel in advance as it does fill up during the summer, Semena Santa, and Christmas.

Hotels in Creel are basic (you won’t find a Hyatt or Hilton) but generally cheap, usually between $20 and $150 per night. Below are a few recommendations for different budgets:

Low Budget

Hotel Ecolóigo Temazcal

With rooms accommodating anywhere from 1-8 people this hotel is great for anyone from the solo traveller to families. Within walking distance of the train station, this place is rustic, comfortable and clean without breaking the bank.

Click here to check prices and availability

Mid Budget

Hotel La Estacion

This brand new, 9-room boutique hotel is Chepe themed with each room corresponding to a station. It has a cozy feel and a delicious breakfast is included with your stay. The owners speak excellent English and are very helpful if you want to book any tours.

Click here to check prices and availability

High Budget

Best Western Plus: Hotel & Spa

Their cozy lodge offers some of the most comfortable accommodations in Creel and the restaurant’s bar is a nice place to spend an evening. Although walking distance from the train station, transfers to and from the hotel are included in your booking.

Click here to check prices and availability

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Visiting Creel – Additional Information

Below are some general tips from personal experience. If you have travelled in Mexico or Copper Canyon and have any other tips please feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page!

  • Visiting Divisadero?

    Divisadero and Posada Barrancas, the two El Chepe stops following Creel, have fantastic views and offer some fun activities but not as many places to stay. They are, however, only about an hour from Creel making it possible to spend the night in Creel and visit Divisadero during the day. About 5 buses run between Creel and Divisadero each day giving you more flexibility than the train, which only arrives once per day. The bus station, Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste, is in the centre of Creel just a few steps from the train station.

  • Money

    There’s only one ATM in Creel and it’s been known to run out of cash. Make sure you bring enough cash with you for your entire Copper Canyon journey as once you leave Chihuahua or Los Mochis you won’t find many banks or ATMs.

    That said, the ATMs dispense primarily in 500-peso denominations and more often than not retailers don’t have change for these large bills. Hold on to as many small bills (20s, 50s, 100s, 200s) as you can, ideally getting change before you start your Chepe journey.

    Don’t accept change in the form of ripped or torn bills as the next retailer won’t accept them from you. If you do find one in your wallet you can exchange it at a bank.

  • Maps.me

    The free app Maps.me contains more detailed routes and amenities than Google maps. You can download it for apple or android, and then download the map of Mexico before you leave to visit the Copper Canyon. Even if you don’t have data while traveling in Mexico you’ll be able to navigate using the map and GPS on your phone.

  • Cellular Service

    Service in the entire Copper Canyon is pretty weak if non-existent for many providers. Most hotels offer free wifi but if you’d like to have cell phone service I’d recommend picking up a telcel SIM card when you first arrive in Mexico as they have the best service throughout the canyon. Your phone will need to be unlocked in order to use it but the SIM includes plenty of data and unlimited calls to Canada, the US and Mexico and should only cost $200-250 MXP.

Things to do in Creel – Itineraries

How long should you stay in Creel? This will of course depend greatly on the individual and the activities they want to experience, however, staying 2 nights is plenty of time to get to know Creel and it’s immediate surroundings mentioned above. That said, a lot can be seen with just a one-night stay as well. Below are some potential itineraries for those wishing to stay in Creel 1 night or 2 nights. Note that the itineraries assume the traveller is using El Chepe to arrive and depart Creel and is continuing in an onward direction.

If you’d like to get to know Creel and it’s surroundings in greater detail, consider booking a multi-day tour through one of the travel agencies in town, such as The 3 Amigos.

Arriving in Creel from Chihuahua

Things to do in Creel Copper Canyon Itinerary infographic

Staying 1 Night

Day 1: Arrive in Creel ~ 11:30 am

  • Check-in to hotel
  • Grab some lunch
  • Walk, rent a bike or book a tour to see the San Ignacio de Arareco area
  • Dinner and evening in town

Day 2: Depart Creel ~ 11:30 am

  • Breakfast
  • Wander over to Casa de las Artesanías (opens at 9 am)
  • Browse the handicrafts at Artesanías Misión (opens at 10 am, closed Sundays)
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Be ready to catch your onward train around 11:20 am.

Staying 2 Nights

Day 1: Arrive in Creel ~ 11:30 am

  • Check-in to hotel
  • Grab some lunch
  • Book tours for the following day
  • Walk, rent a bike or book a tour to see the San Ignacio de Arareco area
  • Dinner and evening in town

Day 2: Full day in Creel

  • Head out for a half-day or full-day tour of Cusárare
  • End your tour with a relaxing dip in Recohuata Hot Springs
  • Dinner and evening in town

Day 3: Depart Creel ~ 11:30 am

  • Breakfast
  • Wander over to Casa de las Artesanías (opens at 9 am)
  • Browse the handicrafts at Artesanías Misión (opens at 10 am, closed Sundays)
  • Check-out of hotel
  • Be ready to catch your onward train around 11:20 am

Arriving in Creel from Los Mochis

Things to do in Creel Copper Canyon Itinerary infographic

Staying 1 Night

Day 1: Arrive in Creel ~ 3:45 pm

  • Check-in to hotel
  • Head straight for an afternoon in the Recohuata Hot Springs
  • Dinner and evening in Creel

Day 2: Depart Creel ~ 3:45 pm

  • Early breakfast
  • Check-out of hotel, leave your bags
  • Head out on a bike or organized tour to see the San Ignacio de Arareco area
  • Be sure to be back and ready to catch the onward train ~ 3:30 pm

Staying 2 Nights

Day 1: Arrive in Creel ~ 3:45 pm

  • Check-in to hotel
  • Book any tours or rentals for the next day
  • Visit the Museo de la Casa de las Artesanías (closes at 6 pm or 1 pm on Sundays)
  • Dinner and evening in Creel

Day 2: Full day in Creel

  • Early breakfast
  • Head out on a 1/2-day or full-day tour to see Cusárare
  • Dinner and evening in Creel

Day 3: Depart Creel ~ 3:45 pm

  • Breakfast
  • Check-out of hotel, leave your bags
  • Trek out to any nearby sights you may have missed the day before, such as San Ignacio de Arareco area
  • Browse the handicrafts at Artesanías Misión (closed Sundays)
  • Lunch
  • be ready to catch your onward train around 3:30 pm
2018-05-17T18:01:37+00:00

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