Sumidero Canyon, in Spanish 'Cañón del Sumidero' is a narrow and deep canyon surrounded by a national park located just north of the city of Chiapa de Corzo in the Mexican state of Chiapas. The canyon’s creation began around the same time as the Grand Canyon in the U.S. by a crack in the area’s crust and erosion by the Grijalva River, which still runs through it. The canyon has vertical walls which reach as high as 1000 meters, with the river turning up to ninety degrees during the thirteen kilometers that the narrow passage runs. At the north end of the canyon is the Chicoasén Dam, one of several on the Grijalva River and important for water storage and the generation of hydroelectricity. Surrounding the canyon is the Sumidero Canyon National Park, which extends for 21,789 hectares over four municipalities of the state of Chiapas. This park is administered by the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (Conanp). Most of the vegetation of this park is low to medium heightdeciduous rainforest, with small areas of pine/oak trees and grassland.
The canyon/park is the second most important tourist site in Chiapas, drawing mostly Mexican visitors who see the canyon by boats which leave from Chiapa de Corzo. The park borders Tuxtla Gutiérrez, the state’s largest city, which has caused problems with human encroachment and settlement on park land. More importantly, the urban areas and logging areas upstream from the canyon have caused serious pollution problems, with up to 5000 tons of solid waste extracted from the Grijalva River each year. This waste tend to build up in the canyon because of its narrowness, the convergence of water flows and the presence of the Chicoasén Dam.
After you've visited the canyon but boat from Chiapa de Corzo, you can see the canyon from above, from five viewpoints. To get there take the road behind the museum of anthropology. You can take collectivo route 69 from here on the corner. It goes to a bus depot, its last stop, which is in front of the entrance gate of the Parque Nacional Cañón del Sumidero. Entrance is 25 pesos. You can walk to the first viewpoint (2.2 km one way), but the others are to far away. So you could try to hitchhike to the others but the easiest way is to enter by your own car. If you don't have a car, you can join a group. Every day a minivan leaves from Parque de la Marimba. Sign up a day before. They also pick up people at their hotel and then drive to the viewpoint. A guide gives some explanation. They charge 125 pesos for the tour (the 25 pesos entrance fee included I believe), which was definitely worth it.
You get to Cañon del Sumidero (Canyon) by the federal highway 190 in the State of Chiapas, Mexico.
A lot of tourists visit the Sumidero Canyon as a day trip from San Cristobal de las Casas, only one hour away. Although Tuxtla Gutierrez is only 15 min. away it has less visitor than San Cristobal, which is generally known as the most visited and therefore touristy town in the state of Chiapas.
By public transport:
- From Tuxtla Gutierrez:
Busses and minivans on the Avenida Central take you to Chiapa de Corzo in about 15 min for 11 pesos. They drop you off at the main square in Chiapa de Corzo, only one block away from the river.
- From San Cristobal de las Casas:
Strangely enough there are no public buses between San Cristobal and Chiapa de Corzo, so you need to get to Tuxtla Gutierrez first, get off at Parque 5 de Mayo and take a bus from here.
From Chiapa de Corzo it is 160 pesos per person to visit the Canyon by boat. Each boat sits about 20 people and they only leave when a boat is full, which isn't a problem really. You'll get a life jacket, and the boat driver will give point out some things to see during the trip. The whole trip takes two hours. They now go as far a the 'Christmas tree' and then return. Untill recently they used to go further and into some caves and all the way to Chicoasén Dam, but for some reason they've stopped going that far.