April 16, 2015

Driving Directions to Urique

I've been asked many times about driving directions for Urique, in the Copper Canyons, and never really took the time to compile the information into a useful, single post. Well I was asked one more time this morning and decided to finally do it :)

Driving from the USA to Urique is a great way to truly experience the Copper Canyons in their remote ruggedness. It's a smooth transition from busy North-American cities to the still quietness and grandeur of the Barrancas. It's also an incredible opportunity for adventure, for meeting great people and for discovering one of the most beautiful countries of the world.

I highly recommend it!

Here's my favorite route to drive down, from Douglas, Arizona :

1. Cross over at Douglas / Agua Prieta (basically drive straight out of the border check point, then take a left, then a right, then you will hit a larger boulevard. This is Route 2. Take a left and you're on your way)
2. Take route 2 to Janos

3. Take route 10 to Nuevo Casas Grandes

4. Some minutes past Nuevo Casas Grandes, you will hit a Y-split. Make a slight right to keep following Route 10, direction Galeana

5. Keep going until Buenaventura. When you come into town, make your way to Av Benito Juarez, which switches into Route 5 out of town. It'll be a right turn.

6. This takes you into a nice ride to Ignacio Zaragoza and through Gomez Farias, then Babicora

7. In Babicora, take a right to follow the road to Route 16. When you hit Route 16, take a left to Guerrero

OPTION - 8A. When entering Guerrero, take a right on main street (Juarez) and keep going straight onto Route 31

OPTION - 8B. In Guerrero, Take Route 110 to La Junta (less scenic, a little faster)

9. Both these ways converge to Route 16 again. If you came from Route 31, take a left on 16 and a right at the turn for Creel. If you came from La Junta, take a right at 16 and a left at the turn for Creel.

10. Stay on that road until Creel. You will cross many towns on the way, the bigger ones being San Juanito and Bocoyna.

11. When in Creel, stay on the main road until the roundabout at the other end of town. There, take the right leg of the roundabout, heading to El Divisadero, San Rafael, and all the way to Bahuichivo.

12. Cross the train tracks in Bahuichivo over to the other side of town. The street will end in a T, take a left. This will take you to Cerocahui

13. In Cerocahui, the road will, again, end in a T. Take a left to Urique / Mesa de Arturo

14. The road will not be paved from this point. You'll start going up. Don't miss the Y-split in the road between Mesa Arturo on the right, and Urique on the left. Of course, you make a left.

15. You are on the road to Urique.

16. Weeeeeeeee!

Additional notes.

There are gas stations in most main towns, but if you want to be on the safe side, you can hit Mexico with a full tank of gas, fuel on the way down when you cross gas stations (They are usually Pemex) or plan a stop in Guerrero or Gomez Farias. Then make sure to refuel in Creel before your way down.

There is gasoline in Urique, bring cash in pesos to pay for it. I suggest you leave town with a full tank, too, just for good measure.

If you want to draw money from Mexico to avoid the currency exchange hassle, you can do so in most main towns such as Agua Prieta, Nuevo Casas Grandes, Gomez Farias, Guerrero and Creel for sure. Always plan that the ATM you hit might be out of order or out of money. Also think about daily withdrawal limits. You won't get far with a credit card, outside of Pemex gas stations. Beyond Creel, plastic money cards are pretty much useless.

People in Mexico will be extremely welcoming and helpful, but be advised they seem to not have a great care for giving precise directions. I've been mislead several times by obviously well-intentioned people, but who had no idea what information they were giving.

You will hit road blocks from time to time, whether manned by army or police personnel. There's at least one outside Agua Prieta, one around Nuevo Casas Grandes and maybe one or two others further down. The guards are typically very curteous. Proper etiquette is to roll your windows down for them to see inside the vehicle. Address them in Spanish at first, even if it's just to say hello. Smile, be calm. The do carry guns, so don't be alarmed. They usually just want to make sure you are not carrying contraband. They are good people to ask directions if you're unsure which road to take.

If you have to go to a police vehicle to ask directions, park your own vehicle at a respectable distance and walk out to the other vehicle. Wave and smile. This way the police will know for sure you're a tourist looking for directions.

There is plenty of food on the way, usually delicious, home-made things you will remember a lifetime. If you want to shop for your own food, markets are usually a great option, as they tend to have many local specialty items. Sunday is THE best day to shop around, since it is the mercado, the day where people from all around gather in the towns to sell various goods. They usually do this in or around the zocalo, or main plaza. This is one great occasion to practice eco-tourism and directly benefit local people.

With eco-tourism in mind, take time to consider when you bargain for goods with locals. My personal experience is they won't inflate the price much, and if they do, really, what's two dollars to you? To them, it might be a better meal, some sweets for the kids or a little gift they can now afford. Think about it!

Enjoy the trip, enjoy the experience, enjoy the views :)

If you have further questions, leave them in the comments section below; it'll help me make this post better!

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