Copper Canyon Hiking

This rugged adventure in the awesome canyons of Northern Mexico is ideal for active travelers. You’ll combine remote hiking in pristine wilderness settings with wildlife viewing and visits to local villages well off the beaten path.  

Hike through the deep sections of the immense Copper Canyon network, to wilderness campsites perched on canyon walls near remote indigenous family compounds, and visit remote settlements like native Tarahumara, and more.

You’ll camp in tents and enjoy rustic cabins at up to 7,500 feet ASL, explore the 200- year-old frontier settlements of Creel and Cerocahui, and travel by train on the famous Chihuahua al Pacifico railroad.

This spectacular train ride features several natural transitions between the dazzling Sea of Cortez and the arid canyons of the Sierra Tarahumara.

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Day 1. Arrive Federal del Valle del Fuerte International Airport, Los Mochis, Mexico

Following arrival, you’ll transfer about 60 miles to El Fuerte, the gateway to the Copper Canyon. Check in to our beautiful historic lodge, then enjoy roaming cobble stone streets for a taste of old Mexico. 

Meet your guide and fellow adventurers at 9:00 PM in hotel lobby for details on your trip and the next day’s departure. (no meals)

Airport transfer Los Mochis to El Fuerte (2 hours)

Note: due to flight schedules, the arrival to El Fuerte is normally on late afternoon or at evening.

Day 2. Train from El Fuerte to Areponapuchic

You meet for breakfast and then it’s “All aboard!” for the world famous Chihuahua al Pacifico train trip up into the Sierra Madre Mountains. This comfortable first class train leads us through dozens of tunnels and over countless bridges with exceptional opportunities for taking pictures and enjoying the awesome, widely varying views as you leave the coast and head into the arid inland.

Arriving in the early afternoon to Posada Rancho (7,260 ft.), it’s a short 15 minute transfer to the rustic and comfortable community cabins in Areponapuchic where you will spend the night. (B,D) Overnight: Community Cabins Areponapuchic

Train ride from El Fuerte to  Areponapuchi (5.5 hours)

Day 3. Transfer to San Rafael, Hike to Guitayvo

After breakfast, the vehicles are loaded and you transfer to the trail head in San Rafael (7,425 ft). Here, mules are loaded with gear and you begin the walk through the rolling hills of the high sierra.

You come to a school and a church in the indigenous village of San Alonso and follow the rolling hills of the high Sierra Tarahumara. You arrive to the quiet village of Guitayvo (elevation 7,590 feet) in the mid-afternoon and relax in the comfortable hostel-like eco-cabins nestled in the forest.

The Guitayvo center has six comfortable cabañas and capacity for 24 worthy travelers with restaurant service and solar energy used. The indigenous Tarahumara have been in charge of the hostel construction and place management, as an important way to diversify their economy with sustainable project respecting their culture and environment.

This is a great opportunity to connect with the local culture in this charming canyon location.

This evening, enjoy the incredible views to the “Barranca Urique” and the spectacular night sky!. (B,Snacks,L,D) Overnight: Eco-cabins Guitayvo

Transfer to San Rafael trailhead (20 minutes)

Hiking (4.5-6 hours, altitude gain/loss: 1716ft/1320ft.

Day 4. Hiking to Huemachi

Today you will begin your hiking adventure by contining to navigate around the mesa of Guitayvo, dropping down through an arroyo (river bed) and then climbing gradually up the side of a canyon.

The mystical tranquility of this alpine region is reinforced by the wind whistling through the pine needles. You arrive to the small ranch of Huemachi (6,620 ft.) in the late afternoon. (B,Snacks, L, D) (Overnight: Wild Camping)

Hiking (6-8 hours, altitude gain/loss: 690ft/1650ft).

Day 5. Hiking to Urique Canyon

Your gentle descent continues today as you connect with the Urique Canyon. This trail provides stupendous views and you’ll really hit your stride hiking walk along the ridge that spills down into the incredible Copper Canyon. 

The views are even more amazing than you’ve heard! Late afternoon, we’ll arrive at the Chiruhuerabo ranch (7,720 ft.) for another night of camping. (B,snacks,L,D),(Overnight: Wild Camping)

Hiking (6-8 hours, altitude gain/loss: 1320ft/142ft).

Day 6. Hiking to Unrique Canyon to Cerocahui

You’ll enjoy more spectacular views and hiking today as you formally enter the Urique Canyon through a side canyon near your camp. The views from the ridge looking down are spectacular as you carefully navigate the steep descent with plenty of stops to admire the views and observe the quickly changing biosphere and vegetation. 

It’s a beautiful journey down the canyon as you descend toward Naranjo(3,894ft), and are greeted by the friendly residents. After some social time with the locals, your gear is loaded into vehicle and for the relaxing drive down to Urique, a Wild West mining outpost.

Later in the afternoon, you ride out of Urique in the same vehicle, up impressively steep switchback roads to the high sierra and a private lodge at Cerocahui where clean clothesand a hot fire are waiting for you! (B, L, D) Overnight: Cerocahui Hiking Lodge

Hiking (6-8 hours, altitude gain/loss: 132ft/3,826ft)

Driving from Naranjo to Cerocahui (3 hours, 50km)

Day 7.  Cerocahui to Creel

After breakfast, you’ll drive to the village of Creel, stopping to see the Cerocahui Mission and some of the most impressive view points along the road from Cerocahui to Creel. You’ll enjoy lunch along the way before arriving at Creel, the former frontier logging outpost that’s now the tourist center for the Copper Canyon.

Tonight, enjoy dinner in your cozy hotel, explore the quaint village and relive some of your adventures.(B, L, D) (Overnight Plaza Mexicana

Road Travel from Cerocahui to Creel (5 hours including stops and visits)

Day 8.  Creel to Chihuahua

Today, you begin with a fine breakfast and the chance for some exploration before your late-morning transfer to Chihuahua. Once you are checked in to the hotel in Chihuahua, enjoy an afternoon free for relaxing or sightseeing.

Chihuahua is an important cultural and economic center for Northwestern Mexico, with interesting museums and historical sites. You might want to take a nap, because we’ll celebrate tonight with a farewell fiesta – a festive night on the town! (B,L,D) Overnight: Hotel San Francisco

Road Travel from Creel to Chihuahua (4.5 hours plus stops)

Day 9. Departure from Chihuahua Mexico

After a relaxing breakfast, you depart for you flight home (No meals)

Airport transfer: 30 minutes

*(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

While the above information describes a typical itinerary, the tour’s actual itinerary may vary due to changes in transportation, weather, lodging availability, local events or safety conditions. We reserve the right to alter the tour due to these circumstances should the need arise.

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Tour Dates:

(Custom dates available upon request)

Prices: (based on double occupancy):
Call for current prices

Price Includes: Fully-trained guide(s); all accommodations; all transfers; arrival/departure transfers on arrival/departure days; camping equipment except sleeping bags; Copper Canyon train trip; all meals as indicated (B,snacks,L,D); meals while camping; local guides; arrieros who care for the pack stock; pack mules and burros; local gratuities to wait-staff for included meals, maid service, and porters. All meals, excluding alcohol and beverages, are included in the trip price.

Price Excludes: International and internal flights, arrival/departure transfers not on arrival/departure days (can be provided); airport taxes, immigration card ($17 U.S.), beverages (water, tea, soda, juice, alcohol, etc.), travel insurance, meals on Day 1 and on Day 9; accommodation preceding Day 1 and following Day 9 (can be arranged), personal expenses in hotels (phone, laundry, room service, etc.), gratuities to trip leader and local guides in Copper Canyon (see recommendations on tipping); and costs incurred as a result of bad weather, delayed flight or other situations beyond our control.

Single Supplement Policy:  All tour pricing is based on double occupancy lodging. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability.

If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender.  If you reserve your tour at least 90 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement  of half the standard single supplement (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary).  Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early.

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Activities:  Hiking, scenic train ride and village visits

Rating: Moderately to Challenging

Group Size:  2-12 guests

Length:  9 days/8 nights

Meeting Time & Place: Federal del Valle del Fuerte International Airport, Los Mochis, Mexico (airport code LMM) on Day 1. After clearing customs, you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel. Airport transfers on day 1 and 9 are included in the trip price.

Departure Time & Place: Chihuahua Fierro Villalobos International Airport (airport code CUU).

Best time to travel:  November – March

Travel Notes:  We strongly suggest guests arrive in Mexico one or two days before departure. Aside from a chance to relax and get a feel for the country and its people, it will safeguard against luggage loss / delay and or missed flights / connections. We are happy to arrange accommodations and provide suggestions.

Getting to Federal del Valle del Fuerte International Airport in El Fuerte / Los Mechios may require flights with Mexico – these are easily coordinated and can usually be done the same day you enter Mexico. There are multiple, daily, direct flights from Los Angeles, Tucson, El Paso and other U.S. cities, and from Mexico City, La Paz, Chihuahua, Merida, Guadalajara and others.

Meals: All meals are included in the trip price – beverages and alcohol are not included! (Water is always available at camp, hotels and lodges.) Meals on arrival and departure day are not included.

Meals are varied and wholesome. They include fresh beef and cheese, home-made soups, hand-pressed tortillas, and beans. Fresh fruits and vegetables are served whenever available. Special dietary requirements can be met and should be noted at the time of booking.

Breakfast is normally hot and cold cereals, toast, jams, marmalade, coffee, tea and juice. Eggs, bacon, fresh tortillas and salsa are also common.

Packed lunches are prepared at breakfast and are carried with us in daypacks. Lunches consist of sandwiches (e.g. tuna, cheese, ham, peanut butter, salami), fresh fruit; trail mix, chocolate, cookies, snacks etc. Clients are responsible for looking after their lunch boxes (which we provide).

In hotels, the menu typically consists of a soup or salad to start, a main course of beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian entree and a dessert (usually fruit).

Weather and Climate: Due to the environment, weather is variable throughout the day and by elevation. Dressing in layers will be essential to your comfort throughout the day.

Rain is possible at any time and weather conditions can change rapidly in the mountains, so having rain gear is highly recommended. At the same time, the sun is strong at higher elevations, and therefore adequate precautions should be taken to prevent sunburn, even on cool, sunny days. On average, the temperature in November through April range from highs in the 70’s and 80’s Fahrenheit and lows in the 40’s and 50’s Fahrenheit. 

More detailed weather information is available by visiting www.weatherbase.com.

Physical preparation:  This tour is designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active, have a spirit of adventure and possess a positive attitude. Most activities are 3-4 hours in either the morning or afternoon with a lunch stop in between.

It is very important that you realistically assess your physical condition with regard to the demands of this trip. All participants must be in good overall physical condition. 

The more physically prepared you are for this tour, the more you will enjoy this unique, adventure experience. We encourage you to call us and talk more specifically about any questions you have on the activities, your fitness, and any other aspects of the trip – please don’t be shy!

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Camping:

We camp double-occupancy, with two guests each in our comfortable three-person tents. These are quality tents able to withstand the occasional high winds, cold temperatures, or infrequent (sometimes intense) rain. Single accommodations are available with a surcharge.

Guests will need to provide their own sleeping bags. Guests typically set up/take down their own tents, while our guides handle transporting the tents and equipment (except sleeping bags).

Most camping is true ‘wilderness’ style camping with the only washing facilities being creeks. Showers are sometimes available in the gardens of people residing in the Copper Canyon. Hotels on this trip are charming and clean, family run establishments. All have private bathrooms.

Hotels and Lodges:

El Fuerte:
Hotel El Fuerte:
A four-star historic hotel that blends the charm of a colonial period mansion with the comfort of modern conveniences.

Erected as a hacienda in 1750, it has 31 rooms with private baths and A/C and a dining room famous for fine food. Rooms are furnished in typical Mexican style and a love for detail.

This is one of the most beautiful colonial buildings in El Fuerte.

Posada del Hidalgo: This beautiful colonial mansion was built in 1890 by Señor Rafael Almada, a wealthy and influential “alcalde” (mayor) who spent five years and 100,000 gold pesos on its construction. (We use the Posada when the Hotel El Fuerte is booked.)

Eco-cabins Guitayvo:(no phone or website)
These rustic cabins, managed by Theodoro and his family, offer incredible views and simple yet clean accommodation. Homemade tortillas, soups and traditional dishes are served daily by Theodoro’s wife and daughters. The cabins are a perfect introduction to the Copper Canyon and the people that live deep within.

San Ignacio (Cerocahui)
Cerocahui Wilderness Lodge
Owned and operated by Margarita Quintero, the first hotelier in Creel and the Copper Canyon. 

Margarita opened the first hostel in Copper Canyon more than 25 years, hand-making tortillas and welcoming lone wanderers from their travels through the wild canyons. 

This specialty boutique wilderness lodge is perched on the edge of a side canyon – it’s remote and rustic yet with extraordinary attention to detail, the lodge is a highlight!

Creel
Margarita’s Plaza Mexicana:
Owned and operated by Margarita Quintero, the first hotelier in Creel and the copper canyon. 

Margarita began over 25 years ago with the first hostel in the copper canyon, making hand made tortillas and welcoming lone wanderers from their travels throughout the wild canyons.  This hotel was her second project after her original hostel which still stands proudly in the plaza of Creel.

The Lodge at Creel: Formerly the Pension Creel, this fully renovated and modernized lodge gives you rustic charm and relaxing comfort in the frontier logging-town turned burgeoning tourist-hub of the Copper Canyon Creel. (We use this lodge on request and for special departures.)

Sierra Lodge: The beautiful little 22-room Sierra Lodge is right on the Continental Divide at 7600 feet, nestled against the side of a small pine-scented valley with a stream rushing by the front door.

It’s a rustic jewel built of rich-toned varnished logs and located just about 25 minutes outside of Creel, the lodge is in the heart of some of the most beautiful Copper Canyon country we’ve traveled!  (We use the Sierra Lodge when Margaritas Plaza Mexicana is full and/or on request and for specialty departures.)

Chihuahua
Hotel San Francisco:
Located in the heart of Chihuahua´s downtown area (right next to the beautiful Cathedral), this hotel is literally surrounded by Chihuahua´s most important historical, financial, and commercial areas.

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

 

For more information about this tour or to book your next group adventure, contact us today and we will create a fun and exciting adventure you will cherish forever.

Testimonials

I would like to express appreciation to Return On Adventure for an absolutely perfect ten-day trip to Guatemala a couple of years ago. The hotels, were very nice and the guides were always on time, provided excellent information, answered questions, and escorted me to wonderful sites in the country. I highly recommend this company, as my experience was wonderful! — Lee W. Fort Collins, CO

Your next trip needs to be this one! The highest place in Africa is absolutely spectacular!! Excellent service and attention to detail. Incredible guide and support. Great food. Quality gear. I would highly recommend Return On Adventure. There was excellent service and attention to detail throughout. — Andrea D. San Francisco, CA

In 2010, Dean created a three week Alaskan tour for my two sons and me. For all the trips I`ve ever taken in my life, and I`ve traveled quite a bit, this was by far the most customized trip I`ve ever taken. He did a great job of challenging us and catering it to our desires. The whole thing was exquisitely coordinated. — David K. New York, NY

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