If you spend a night at any spot en route, you'll have roughly 24 hours to explore, unless you're heading back in the direction from which you came. Drivers from all canyon hotels pick up guests from the train station; if you don't have a reservation, ask a driver about room availability. Rates for hotels in both of these towns usually include meals. The number of rooms is limited, and with groups of 40 or 50 people going through the Sierra, a hotel can be empty one day and full the next. When hotels are full, you'll notice a decline in service in the dining room, or you'll have to wait in line at the buffet even if you're not part of the group. Overbooking rooms also seems to be a problem with some of the large hotels, though it's not common enough that you should worry about it. In Creel, you find the greatest variety of accommodations and restaurants. This is also where most of the economical hotels are.
Los Mochis and El Fuerte are warm year-round. Chihuahua can be warm in summer, windy at almost any time, and freezing in winter. The canyon rim may experience freezes from November through March; the bottom of the canyon may occasionally get cool enough for a sweater. In the other half of the year, it's hot below and cool above.
Money-Changing: Be Prepared
Be sure to start the journey with adequate funds, because exchanging money outside of Creel is almost impossible; even credit cards are good only at the expensive hotels. I won't use a credit card at some of the hotels listed in this chapter because they use radio communication to the main office to confirm a card -- hardly a secure system.