Once nothing more than a rough-and-ready backwater, CREEL (2330m) has rapidly transformed into a full-blown mountain resort of ten thousand people. Indeed, Creel is yet another Pueblo Mágico and has seen tourism all but replace logging as its main industry; on most days (but especially Sunday) you’ll be greeted by a weird juxtaposition of laidback Western backpackers, smartly dressed locals, rich Mexican tourists in their 4WDs and ragged Rarámuri trinket sellers and their children, trying to make a buck or two. In July and August the town is invaded by Mexican tour groups – the best hotels often get completely booked up at this time. This is not to say that the town has become completely commercial; beneath the facade of development, Creel is still a rural mountain town at heart, and an ideal base from which to explore the area. Note that construction of Creel’s airport – Aeropuerto Regional Barrancas del Cobre – was delayed in 2014 after protests by the local Rarámuri, but should be operating sometime in 2016.

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