Close by are several canyons, waterfalls, a lake, hot springs, Tarahumara villages and cave dwellings, and an old Jesuit mission. Ten kilometers (6 1/4 miles) north of town is an ecotourism complex, San Ignacio de Arareko (tel. 635/456-0126). It has a lake, hiking and biking trails, horses, cabins, and a crafts shop, all run by indigenous peoples of the ejido (cooperative). Batopilas, an 18th-century silver-mining town at the bottom of the canyon, requires an overnight excursion. You can ask for information about these and other things to do at your hotel, or go by the office of the 3 Amigos (tel. 635/456-0179; www.amigos3.com), at Av. López Mateos 46 in downtown Creel. These guys rent pickups with crew cabs or mountain bikes and can give you maps and advice on where to go, depending on your interests.
From Creel, you can drive to El Divisadero on a recently paved road. The trip takes about an hour.
Organized Tours -- Hotels offer 2- to 10-hour organized tours that cost between 300 and 900 pesos per person (four-person minimum). All tour availability depends on whether a group can be assembled; your best chance is at the Hotel Parador de la Montaña.
This is an exhausting day tour to what is billed as the tallest single cascade in North America. The best time to go is during the rainy season, from July to September. The tour costs around 750 pesos per person and takes about 11 hours. Driving time is 4 hours one-way, and the strenuous hike to the bottom and back up takes 3 hours -- not a lot of time to be by the falls. Another option is to stay in one of the simple accommodations that have opened near the falls, if you can get transportation back the next day. Ask around Creel.
You can make an overnight side trip from Creel to the old silver-mining town of Batopilas, founded in 1708. It's 7 to 9 hours from Creel by town bus, 5 hours by sport utility vehicle, along a narrow, winding dirt road through some of the most spectacular scenery in the Copper Canyon. In Batopilas, which lies beside a river at the bottom of a deep canyon, the weather is tropical, though it can get cool in the evenings. You can visit a beautiful little church and do several walks, including one to Misión Satevó, a ruined mission church that dates from the early 18th century. The place has many colorful little details: The dry-goods store is a veritable time capsule, cobblestone streets twist past whitewashed homes, miners and ranchers come and go on horseback, and the Tarahumara frequently visit. A considerable number of pigs, dogs, and herds of goats roam at will -- this is, after all, Chihuahua's goat-raising capital.
Getting There -- From Creel, take the bus from the Restaurant Herradero, López Mateos s/n, three doors past the turnoff to Hotel Plaza Mexicana. It goes to Batopilas on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, leaving Creel at 7am and arriving midafternoon. Tickets are sold at the restaurant. Several Suburban-type vans offer transportation. One leaves on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10:30am and arrives midafternoon. Both bus and van return the following day. There are no bathrooms, restaurants, or other conveniences of civilization along the way, but the bus may stop to allow passengers to stretch and find a bush.
Where To Stay & Eat -- Batopilas has a few little restaurants and inns. There are no telephones, though, so don't expect to make reservations. One night probably isn't enough for a stay here, since you arrive midafternoon and must leave at 7am or 10:30am the next day. The staff at the Hotel Parador de la Montaña in Creel provides information about vacancies at the basic, comfortable, 10-room Hotel Mary (formerly Parador Batopilas). All rooms have private bathrooms and cost around 250 pesos per night. There are also the rustic Hotel Batopilas and Hotel Las Palmeras, with five or six rooms each; if all else fails, you can probably find a family willing to let you stay in an extra room.
Restaurants in Batopilas are informal about their schedules, so bring along some snacks and bottled water to tide you over; snacks are available at the general store. The place to eat in Batopilas is Doña Mica's, facing a little plaza tucked behind the main square. Ask anyone for directions (everyone knows her). She serves meals on her front porch surrounded by plants, but it's best to let her know in advance when to expect you. On short notice, she can probably rustle up some scrambled eggs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.