Cañón del Sumidero is in Chiapas, just east of Tuxtla Gutierrez. The area is one of the most scenic of Mexico national parks, but is generally not crowded because it is off the usual tourist path.
This is a long canyon, with sheer, steep sides up to 1 km high. There is a river running the length of the canyon, upon which boat tours are run. The boat tour is the best way to experience the canyon because you can see the entire length from the perspective of the base of the cliffs. There are also a number of scenic overlooks throughout the park, and you can easily drive to these (or take a taxi) if you just want a short, quick visit to see a bit of the canyon and to grab a few snapshots.
The Grijalva River was dammed in the early 1980s when the Chicoasan Dam was built to support a hydroelectric plant to supply Mexico's growing energy needs. The dam elevated the river substantially, creating 20 miles of navigable, calm waters from what was once a rushing, rocky mountain river. Today, the river and its man-made reservoir is generally called El Sumidero.
The landscape is rugged mountain tropical forests.
Flora and faunaEdit
The national park is home to a wide range of wildlife. Mammals include monkeys, coatis, jaguars and more. More than 100 species of birds are known to inhabit the tropical forests in and around the canyon, including some colorful tropical members of the parrot family. Snakes, lizards and other reptiles make their home in the park, including several venomous species, so be careful about where you step and what you touch as you explore the forest trails. In the river itself, you will probably see American crocodiles sunning themselves on any piece of surface rock they can find, and if you keep your eyes peeled, you may see some Central American River Turtles lurking below the surface.
The climate is generally tropical, with warm, humid conditions.
The canyon is on the east side of Tuxtla Gutierrez, which has an airport and bus terminal with frequent service to other cities in Mexico. From Tuxtla Gutierrez, take a taxi to the Embarcadero in Chiapa de Corzo (about a 30 minute taxi ride). Or take a colectivo from the terminal located at Calle Tercera Ote. Sur, between Av. 2a Sur Ote and Av. 3a Sur Ote (across the restaurant El Pozol). The cost is M$18 (Feb 2023). From the centre of Chiapa de Corzo it is a 1 km walk to the port (embarcadero). You can buy boat ticket on site for M$280 (Feb 2023).
An all inclusive tour from San Cristobal de las Casas costs M$200 (pesos). You can also take a colectivo towards Tuxtla Gutiérrez (M$40) and ask the driver to drop you near Chiapa de Corzo. Cross the road and take another colectivo (M$5) to the 'embarcadero' where you buy a boat ticket for M$280. The boat ride takes about two hours, so bring drinking water, a hat and sunscreen. There will be a stop mid-tour where souvenirs and refreshments can be bought.
By car, you can drive to the six scenic overlooks (miradores). The easiest is on the outskirts of Tuxtla Gutierrez and is called La Ceiba. The most popular overlook is Mirador Cañón del Sumidero, inside the national park, surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forest. (Though the boat tour is, by far, the better way to get memorable pictures).
Fees and permitsEdit
M$280 for a boat tour. The boatmen have formed a co-operative which sets the passenger fees. The area from where the boats depart and return is a nice, shaded spot with toilets and kiosks. Life jackets are supplied and compulsory. Miradores are free to visit, but are only open 8am-5pm, and closed Tuesday for maintenance.
Boat into the canyon itself, drive into the park, then walk or mountain bike.
Crocodiles and birds in beautiful nature.
The boat trip through the canyon is the park's main draw, but there is quite a lot of mountainous forest surrounding the river, and there are tour guides in Tuxtla Gutierrez who will guide you on a hiking or mountain biking trip into the park. The miradores frequently have marked trails that are good for short hikes.
Rock climbing and rappelling are allowed in the park, but use a specialized tour guide with local knowledge and the equipment and skills needed to stay safe. Vertigo Rock Climbing in San Cristobal de las Casas leads climbing groups into the park.
Souvenirs, water, snacks and other items can be purchased in Tuxtla Gutierrez or Chiapa de Corzo. There are no shops or vendors in the park itself. You may find guidebooks that mention the Eco Park area, which once did have shops and activities for travelers, but the Eco Park closed during the COVID crisis and has not reopened (as of October 2022).
Food is available in Tuxtla Gutierrez or Chiapa de Orzo.
Drink is available in Tuxtla Gutierrez or Chiapa de Orzo. The boat tour lasts 2-3 hours, so bring some water.
There is accommodation available in nearby Chiapa de Corzo or Tuxtla Gutierrez, but tourists coming from San Cristobal will return there with their tour group.
The boats are professionally and safely run.
The canyon is near the provincial capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.