Adventures in Creel: Off the Beaten Track in Mexico

by Jason Batansky on November 12, 2013 · 2 comments

San Ignacio Mission

Respite at the San Ignacio Mission with Tarahumara indigenous children

One of the most fascinating sensations I’ve ever come across during my travels is the feeling you get when you’ve arrived at a land mostly untouched by humanity, one of the few vestiges of Earth still left primarily controlled by nature.

This feeling is rare, but well-known to travelers, and it is the one I experienced on my way by mountain bike just outside creel in Mexico’s Cusarare vicinity.

After hiking into the nearby Copper Canyon, ziplining over it, mountain biking through it, ATVing next the edge of it, repelling and down it, I was ready to visit the surrounding area.

Rappelling into Copper Canyon

Rappelling into Copper Canyon

The journey began in the tiny alpine village of Creel, known by locals as the gateway to the Copper Canyon.

As we set off down the 22-kilometer dirt pathway to the mission of San Ignacio, my bike became more and more indistinguishable from the dirt and loose rocks, and large stones it tore through.

Upon entering the Valley of The Monks, I was stricken by the size of the massive black rock spires jutting out into the sky.

This wasn’t the only amazing rock formation the canyons of the Sierra Madre had in store either.

Valley of the Monks

Valley of the Monks filled with enormous and tall rock spires

Further down the road, I entered the aptly named Valley of the Mushrooms and Frogs, where, unsurprisingly, the rock formations looked exactly like mushrooms and frogs.

You may not consider a rock shaped like a mushroom to be much to write home about, but when surrounded by these examples of millions of years of unfettered tectonic movement, I was reminded why we travel through the natural world.

Valley of the Mushrooms and Frogs

Crafts sold at the Valley of the Mushrooms and Frogs

There are so many startling things, built both by man and by Earth, that your mind has to discover more once you’ve started .

Finally, I dismounted at the stone church of The San Ignacio Mission. The structure was simple and deliberate, and the stones that comprised the building appeared similar to the ones we had just passed, making this place appear as if it had risen from the Earth itself.

However, the most fascinating point of this part of the journey happened a few minutes later, when a loud HROOF sound introduced me to a dog who had been amazingly in pursuit behind me for the entire ride from Creel.

With the dog, who I dubbed “Speedy”, in tow, I continued my ride through Mexico’s scattered villages. I began to see many Raramuri talking to one another in the center of town and attending to their daily chores.

A young man riding a horse with his younger brother called out “¿De donde eres?” and was excited to hear a reply in the affirmative, “Soy de Los Estados Unidos”. Just like anywhere else in the world, we proceeded with small chat.

Advice from the welcoming Tarahumara

Advice from the welcoming Tarahumara. Clearly not all indigenous people of the world appear like they come from a National Geographic magazine. This is more the norm.

He told me about his favorite places to visit in the area as we spoke in Spanish, neither of which is our native language. He speaks Tarahumara, a Mexican indigenous language spoken by around 70,000 people in the world today.

He proceeded to speak proudly of his town, his people, and all the things I should be sure to do before I left.

The conversation with the man just a few years younger than I served as a reminder that no matter how far I travel, there’s nothing to compare to pride in your own home.

The valleys, nature, and way culture both in Creel and outside of the town is certainly a marvel to be proud of, and despite its appearance of being untouched by time, I was amazed by how much the locals found new and exciting every time.

At the finish line our tour operators greeted us with shots of sotol, a distinct alcoholic beverage only found in this region of Mexico.

Sotol in Creel

Shots of sotol after a pleasant bike ride outside of Creel

It goes to show that the best part of travel, or of being home, is sharing it with others, just like the citizens of Ciudad Juarez surprised me days before.

That is, even if you’re just sharing it with an incredibly determined canine called “Speedy”.


My trip to Creel in the Mexican state of Chihuahua was provided in collaboration with The 3 Amigos Adventures by Amigo Trails, Ah-Chihuaha,Conexion a La Aventura, ATMEX, and Visit Mexico. All opinions expressed above are my own.

About the Author:

is the author of 14 posts on Go Backpacking.

Jason Batansky is a 25 year old entrepreneur/blogger for Locationless Living and Flashpacker Guy who has been in constant motion since his first solo trip abroad over 6 years ago. His three online businesses have allowed him to travel and live throughout South America, South East Asia, and Europe, while working here and there wherever he found reliable Wi-Fi access and motivation, two elements necessary to running online businesses that can be difficult to obtain simultaneously in the world’s most beautiful locales. You can also find him on Google Plus.

The Travel Blog Success community offers practical resources and personal support to help you build a better travel blog.

Whether you treat blogging as a hobby, or dream of building a location independent business, you'll learn what's required to create a name for yourself in the online travel world.

Benefits of Joining:

  1. Personal support from Dave, including site critiques and tips on negotiating advertising deals.
  2. Ability to learn from others' mistakes, and save yourself time, energy and money.
  3. Chance to network with other travel bloggers of all levels, from around the world.

Click here to learn more.

Categories: Features, Mexico
Post tags: , ,


Raj Kumar Jonnal November 18, 2013 at 8:04 am

Hey Jason, I do agree with that there are really many amazing place which are unknown to us. When ever they are discovered we find amazing thing over there.


Corinne November 19, 2013 at 2:50 am

Love the photos. Love the dog!


Leave a Comment

Comment Policy: Please use your real name. If you use your company name or keywords instead, it'll be deleted. If it is your first time leaving a comment, or you include a URL, it will be held for moderation. Other than that, please keep it polite and respectful.

Previous post:

Next post: