Here’s a complete guide to the Sumidero Canyon to visit this National Park, an incredible natural wonder of Mexico. It is located in Chiapas, a region with a unique culture which offers varied landscapes, from the mountains to the lush jungle and its impressive waterfalls. The Canyon is a must-see if you’re planning to visit the Chiapas. So let us guide you through this journey for a breathtaking experience and share with you all you need to know to visit the Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas.
The Sumidero Canyon, a natural wonder
The Sumidero Canyon is one of the deepest and spectacular canyon in Mexico. It is about 35 million years old and formed by the Grijalva River over 13 km long, completely surrounded by a luxurious nature and cliffs up to 1000 m high. Such a place hosts a privileged and fragile ecosystem: monkeys, crocodiles, great variety of birds, endemic fauna and flores species. This National Park is a unique place in Mexico and in the world, considered as sacred for the local indigenous population.
Where to stay to visit the Canyon?
You have 3 main options to visit it: Tuxtla Gutiérrez, San Cristóbal de Las Casas & Palenque. We don’t recommend to do it from Palenque, located at 6 hours in car ! Many tour operators will offer you to visit from San Cristóbal de Las Casas (1 hour away by car). On our side, we chose Tuxtla, the closest and less touristical one, ideally located at less than half an hour away from the Canyon.
Tuxtla, our starting point for this adventure
Tuxtla Gutiérrez is the capital of Chiapas and the biggest city of the state. The city is clearly not the most beautiful you will see in Mexico but still offers a cool experience. In addition, there is no international tourism there, creating a nice relation with the locals, very curious and absolutely lovely people.
Tuxtla deserves few words in this complete guide to the Sumidero Canyon because there are a lot of great places to visit. We can mention the Marimba square, a beautiful square with local bands everyday at 18h for a Marimba dance session ! You have also the Morelos Park which offers a panoramic view on the city, the botanic garden which is really wild – and free ! – (sorry for that poor joke). A bit outside of the city, in Copoya, you can find one of the tallest christ statue in the world, which offers a great view on Tuxtla and the valley. Tuxtla really remains a great souvenir in our trip especially for the kindness of the locals.
How to visit it ?
The canyon can be visited in 2 different ways. From the top of the canyon, and from the river by boat. Tours propose to do both in 1 day but we personally preferred to split it over 2 days to really have time to enjoy it and discover the surroundings. It was also a cheaper option.
Visit the Canyon from the top
Visiting the Sumidero Canyon from above is a breathtaking experience. You can enjoy it from 5 different viewpoints (miradores), giving one after another, a more and more gorgeous view on the canyon. You will see the boats, which seams so small from here, navigating peacefully of the river. The visit to the top of the Sumidero Canyon is a great way to get a feel for how majestic is the Canyon and it offers views that are absolutely mesmerising. There are located on the edge of the cliff, and are connected by a single road with several kilometers between each miradors.
This is why it is recommended to have a vehicle because you have only one road with several kilometers between each miradores. You can walk but it’s not really pleasant as you can’t enjoy the view. Plus, you are sharing the road with the cars (no pedestrian path), which is not so safe. If you don’t have a car, you can try hitchhiking. This is what we did and it worked very well. We met 2 cool guys who drove us to the different miradores, gave us tips about the region and brought us back to the center. More adventurous but definitely a great experience !
How to access ?
- The entrance (Ingreso Mirador Cañon del Sumidero) is located 15 minutes from the city centre of Tuxtla. This is the only access and you have to pay a ticket.
- You can get there by car or by public transport from Tuxtla (the colectivo R-69 drops you off near the entrance).
- Note that the access to the Miradores is closed on Tuesdays.
Guide to the Sumidero Canyon
Visit the Canyon from the river
Visiting the canyon from the inside is a complete different experience that blew us away. The boat tour lasts 2 hours and guide you to the very end of the Sumidero Canyon. During the trip, we made a few stops to admire some particular points of interest. There are various natural formations on the cliffs faces as El Arbol de Navidad and caves as La Cueva de Colores. We had the chance to see a lot of birds, spider-monkeys in the trees and crocodiles sunbathing !
Unfortunately, there is also a dark side, not often mentioned (Instagram VS reality… ). There is a lot of trash floating on the surface of the water and accumulating at the end of the canyon. It seems that this is due to what the river drags upward the canyon and not to the turistical activity. Progress are made but this is a reality in Mexico and this is even more sad to see it in such a nature wonder. A complete guide to the Sumidero Canyon.
How to access?
- Where to take the boat? You have several options but the nicest and most common is to go to Chiapa de Corzo, a Pueblo Mágico (magic town) at 20 minutes from Tuxtla city center (a colectivo runs between them all day long).
- Once in the town, you have to go to a pier, we went to the “Embarcadero Chiapa de Corzo“. There, you have to pay your fare. It is likely that you will have to wait as they only leave when the boat is full (and these are 40-seater boats). We advise you to arrive early, it will be quieter to enjoy the experience.
- What to bring with you ? You will need sunscreen, a cap and water with you. The boat does not have cover to not obstruct the view.
Chiapa de Corzo, to finish your experience in beauty
After a gourmet break, you can visit the town. The best is, as always, to just get lost in the streets. As a point of interest, there is the Plaza de Armas, the main square of the city, which is lovely, but we would like to recommend two other places that are less known to tourists. The Templo de Nuestro Señor del Calvario, at the end of the centre, will offer you a peaceful place out of the crowd. Finally, a hidden gem that we discovered completely by chance, is the panoramic square in front of the church of San Gregorio. Definitely the most beautiful point of view on the city with the canyon in the background. We have never heard of it anywhere, so you’re welcome !
We visited several Pueblos Magicos in Mexico, here is another example in Baja California.