2012 Mexican Roadtrip: Creel to Guachochi, Chih. Mexico

Looking at a Chihuahua map that we had gotten from the tourist office, Dimitri thought that Hwy. 25 south from Creel was newly paved and asked around. Indeed it was a great road that neither Garmin nor Google knew was paved. There was a sign that the road had been under construction since 2007. It was an amazing drive on an impressively engineered road. We were going up and down through, and winding around, canyons, gaining and losing 1000m from time to time. We were in pine forests most of the time (that may have been Apache Pines)  snaking our way through the Sierra Tarahumara or what Audre calls The Canyon Country or “País de Barrancas”. At one point we came to a ridge and had canyons on both sides of us—both east and west--with lovely views. There were very few cars but lots of cows and even one horse on the road. We were listening to the CDs that Dimitri created with a random mix of classical, jazz, new age and some crooners thrown in. Really great.
Our rig, fully loaded with our new Thule bike rack on the back, on the gorgeous Hwy. 25 from Creel, Chih. to Guachochi, Chih., Mexico
We left Creel at about 10 a.m. (where the elevation was 2334 and the Latitude was  27° N) and arrived in Guachochi at about 12:45 p.m.--the distance was157.7 km (101.6 miles).

We had 3 places to stay to look at. Dimitri had found them on the web because neither our Lonely Planet Mexico guidebook, our AAA Mexico guidebook nor Karen Brown Mexico even had a listing for Guachochi. We also talked to a woman from Guachochi who we serendipitously met at Restaurant Veronica in Creel the previous night. The best one, she said, was the Cabañas Melina, owned by the same people as the Hotel Melina in town. We typically want to be outside of town because we think it is safer when we are leaving most of our luggage in the car overnight and keeping the bikes on the bike rack (with 3 locks on them). To arrange to see Cabañas Melina in the outskirts of Guachochi and to find them you need to go to the in-town Hotel Melina (Calle Belisario Domínguez. No. 14 Col. Centro, Guachochi, Chih. C.P. 31030, e-mail: hotel_melina@hotmail.com and web: www.hotelmelinaguachochi.com,Tel. (649) 5430255, 5430340) beforehand.

When we got into town, the first person we met was Rafael Chaparro Aguirre, the owner of Los Adobes Restaurant in Gauchochi. He was supervising some workers outside his restaurant and we stopped the car beside him. He told us how to get to Hotel Melina and told us that his restaurant had fresh trout. We said we’d be back for dinner. At Hotel Melina, Dimitri made a deal for a cabin and Joel, the owner, led us in his truck to the cabin. It would have been pretty impossible otherwise. When we got to Cabañas Melina, we found a perfect spot so we never looked at any other accommodations in Guachochi. But, for the record, the others were: El Cabañas Tepehuan (Vieja a Parral Km 4 . Col. La Mesa . C.P. 31238 . Guachochi Chih. Tel. (649)543-2080,(649)111-4720,(614)184-7926, http://www.cabañasaltepehuan.com) at $M500, and Hotel Los Cumbres (Av. Las Garzas S/N Col. Barrio Azul (En la entrada a Guachochi), Tel. y Fax.(649) 543-02-00 y 543-03-00, e-mail lascumbres@tarahumara.com.mx) at M$410.

The Cabanas Melina at were 3.6 km from the Melina Hotel or 2.9 miles in an area called Rancho Seco. Guachochi is a town of 40000 at 2400m in elevation and at  26° N latitude. It has the Rio Verde, a lake and trout farms. The cabin was new (about 4 years old) and right on the rim of the canyon, Barranca Sinforosa. From our cabin you could see across that part of the canyon and see a path for extreme mountain biking called "Curcuito Ruta del Torro". Our cabin had a terrace with a round table made of leather and 4 leather chairs. Inside we had a tiny living room with a fireplace and TV, a full kitchen and dining room table with 6 chairs, one bedroom and one bathroom. All of the windows were screened and we could have all of the windows open to capture the breeze. It was hot but at 2400 m not too uncomfortable. We ate our lunch on our terrace taking in the view and the breeze. We were the only ones staying there (except the family that guards the area)--there were about 5 other cabins built by Joel. After lunch we took a 2 hour hike around the area (Audre's Maptaq watch said we walked 5.5 km.) There were irrigated farms and dirt roads.
The view of Barranca Sinforosa on our hike around Rancho Seco near Guachochi, Chih, Mexico
One of the dirt roads near our cabin goes 18 km to the official overlook for Barranca Sinforosa and it looked like we could bike along it the next day to get our canyon view.


That night we went to Rafael’s restaurant (Los Adobes, Calle 20 de noviembre s/n. Col. Centro, Guachochi, Chih, Mexico, tel. (649)543-0629 de Rafael Chaparro Aguirre, e-mail: losadobes.guachochi@gmail.com). The trout that Rafael had told us about that afternoon was steamed in tin foil with cheese, mushrooms, peppers and onions. It was cooked perfectly and the sauce with the vegetables were very good (M$135). We had it with rice (M$10), a salad (M$33), tortillas and a beer (M$25).  It has been days since we’ve had fish for dinner and this was very good and welcome.

We talked with Rafael when the chips (tostadas) and 2 dips were brought (one was avocado and one was a more traditional green chili salsa) with our beer (M$25). We were also brought strips of pickled onion which were delicious. He said that there was a plane that would take us around the canyons of Sinforosa. Barranca Sinforosa is called the queen of the canyons (“La Reina de Las Barrancas”) and it is ten times better than the Barranca del Cobre (Copper Canyon) where we had just spent 2 days. It is 18 km from Guachochi and the depth is 1830 m (whereas Copper Canyon is 1300m). Rafael assured us that the planes were safe and that the operation was first rate. He even called his friend who is in charge of the operation and found out the price (M$1800 for the 2 of us). We agreed to meet Rafael at his restaurant the next morning at around 9 a.m. and go to the airport together. We were a little sceptical but excited.