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Travel Guide to Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas, Mexico

If you’re looking for a scenic escape, Mexico is the perfect place to explore. It is filled to the brim with natural wonders, including the breathtaking Sumidero Canyon located in Chiapas.

The Sumidero Canyon is a deep natural canyon formed millions of years ago.

Sumidero Canyon Mexico
Traveling through the beautiful Sumidero Canyon

It is set within the Sumidero Canyon National Park (Parque Nacional Cañón del Sumidero).

Here you’ll come across diverse endemic species and a number of outdoor activities.

It is one of the top places to visit in Mexico for nature lovers and adventure-seeking travelers.

The park comprises around 53,480 acres of protected land with plenty to do and see near the canyon.

In this guide, you’ll find the ultimate travel guide for an unforgettable experience at Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas, Mexico.

El Cañon del Sumidero, Chiapas, Mexico – Notable Features & Location

The Sumidero Canyon is one of the top attractions in the state of Chiapas. It’s situated a few miles east of Tuxtla Guiterrez in southern Mexico.

The canyon is surrounded by the Sumidero Canyon National Park that spans across four municipalities in the state.

The park was established in 1980 and is a popular spot for kayaking and boat tours.

Sumidero Canyon mexico
The beginning of Sumidero Canyon

The canyon was created by the mighty Grijalva River, which still flows through it. This process began around 35 million years ago by cracks in the earth’s crust and erosions from the river. 

It was formed around the same time as the Grand Canyon. However, the Sumidero Canyon is much smaller, at about 8.1 miles long.

The canyon’s walls reach 1,000 meters (3,281 feet) at their highest point and boast intriguing rock formations and caves throughout.

The canyon’s interior features thirty rapids, freshwater springs, sandy riverside beaches, and cascading waterfalls.

You’ll also find endangered species in the area, such as the American crocodile and the Central American river turtle. And there is plenty more to explore amongst the lush deciduous rainforest.

American crocodile Mexico Sumidero Canyon
An American crocodile is resting in the sun.

El Cañón de Sumidero – Things to Do

Cañón del Sumidero offers a spectacular adventure with picturesque views, thrilling activities, and plenty of photography opportunities.

You can explore this magnificent site by taking a boat tour or observing the canyon from several viewpoints.

Below are the best ways to experience this must-visit natural wonder. 

Boat Tours Along Grijalva River

One of the best ways to discover the beauty of the canyon is by taking a guided boat trip along the canyon walls. There are several tours from both San Cristobal de las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez.

The most common departure point is at Chiapa de Corzo. 

The scenic round-trip tour will take you towards the Chicoasen dam, an embankment dam, and a hydroelectric power station.

Before the Chicoasen dam was established in 1980, the strong current made it dangerous to cross the river. 

Today, it is one of the most important hydroelectric power sources in Mexico and neighboring Guatemala with energy. And the calm waters offer a memorable experience for all.

pelicans mexico Chicoasen dam
Pelicans hanging outside Chicoasen dam

Along the way, you’ll see several animal species like spider monkeys, white-tailed deer, and kingfishers.

The area is also a haven for bird watching, so don’t forget to carry a pair of compact binoculars.

In addition to the fascinating fauna and flora, you’ll come across several rock caves and natural formations on the canyon walls.

The deeper you travel into the canyon, the more intriguing things there are to explore. 

Pelicans hanging outside Chicoasen dam
Pelicans seem to really enjoy Chicoasen dam.

Tip: For a full day of adventure, you can visit the canyon as well as the magical town of Chiapa de Corzo with a boat and walking tour.

Explore the Ecological Park

The Ecological Park is one of the top spots to visit during a boat ride. The park is set inside the canyon, and the only way to reach it is by boat.

Although most tours stop here, be sure to ask your boatman if it’s not included in the itinerary.

Sumidero Canyon Mexico
A boat journey is the best way to explore Sumidero Canyon

You can enjoy a number of activities at the Ecological Park, from visiting the wildlife sanctuary to learning about local fauna and flora.

Other exhilarating experiences on offer include mountain biking, swimming, zip-lining, and kayaking.

Stop by the Cave of Colors & Christmas Tree

As previously mentioned, there are various caves and rock formations in the area. Two of the most notable ones that you’ll come across are the Cave of Colors and the Christmas Tree.

The Cave of Colors is a natural chapel that gets its name from the eye-catching wall colors.

The filtration of minerals in the cave causes different colors on the walls, especially pink tones.

You’ll also find an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe inside the cave, usually surrounded by fresh flowers.

Virgin of Guadalupe Sumidero Canyon MeXICO
The Virgin of Guadalupe in a small cave

The Christmas Tree is one of the most popular seasonal waterfalls in the area. It comprises a 750-meter (2,461 foot) limestone formation.

The best time to view this 200-meter (656 foot) high waterfall is during the rainy season when it is active.

As its name suggests, the waterfall gushes over moss and other plants and gives the effect of a sparkling Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree waterfall Sumidero Canyon Mexico
The Christmas Tree waterfall during the dry season

Visit the Famous Viewpoints

After an exhilarating boat tour, you can enjoy a birds-eye view of the canyon at one of the Miradores (viewing towers) in the park.

The popular viewing towers offer awe-inspiring vistas of the impressive canyon, glistening Grijalva River, and dense forests. 

The different viewpoints where you can admire the spectacular Sumidero Canyon include:

  • La Ceiba Mirador
  • La Coyota Mirador
  • El Tepehuaje Mirador
  • Los Chiapa Mirador

How to Get to Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas

The nearest city to Sumidero Canyon is Tuxtla Gutierrez. You can get to and from the city by air, bus, or car. Angel Albino Corzo International Airport, also called Tuxtla Gutierrez International Airport, is the primary airport that serves the city.

There are also several buses that travel between Tuxtla Gutierrez and other cities, such as Campeche, Mexico City, Merida, Cancun, and Villahermosa. These bus rides operate frequently each day.

A bus ride from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez takes around 13 to 14 hours, while traveling by car takes about 10 to 11 hours. So if you want a quicker journey on the road, a scenic car ride might be a better choice.

You’ll also find a number of car rental services if you’d like to explore Mexico on your own time. 

After arriving in Tuxtla Gutierrez, you’ll make your way to Chiapa de Corzo, the starting point for your visit to Sumidero Canyon National Park.

If you’re visiting the canyon from Angel Albino Corzo International Airport, the park is only a 40-minute drive away. 

Chiapa de Corzo mexico
Chiapa de Corzo

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit the Sumidero Canyon is during the rainy season, from June to October. The rainy season brings lush greenery and gushing waterfalls that leave visitors in awe. 

If you’re looking to steer clear of the crowds, it’s best to visit the canyon in the morning. During the early hours, you can enjoy the peaceful environment and impressive lighting, which lends itself to epic pictures of the canyon.

Tip: You can visit the Sumidero Canyon National Park every day from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, but it is closed on Tuesdays for maintenance.  

Entrance Tickets to Sumidero Canyon National Park

As the canyon is set within the Sumidero Canyon National Park, you’ll need to pay the park’s admission fee to visit this breathtaking site. The entrance fee is around $2 CAD per person.

After paying for admission, you’ll receive a wristband that provides you with access to the park and several viewing towers in the area.

You can expect to pay around $15 CAD per person for a group boat trip. If you want a more intimate experience, you can take a private tour for $171 CAD.

Sumidero Canyon Garbage Problems

Unfurntely do too bad local management of garbage around the state of Chiapas, so more than 1,600 tons of garbage float on the waters of the Sumidero Canyon.

However, luckily so have locals now started to collect the garbage floating around in the canyon.

Sumidero Canyon mexico garbage problem
Some parts of the canyon are in sad shape.

El Cañón del Sumidero – Accommodation

A trip to the Sumidero Canyon offers many exhilarating adventures, and you’ll certainly want to stay for a few days to experience it all.

Whether you’re looking to stay in a 5-star hotel or budget-friendly hostel, there are many suitable options for a splendid stay in Mexico. You can find a few of the best accommodations below.

Luxury – La Ceiba Hotel Spa

​​La Ceiba Hotel Spa offers a pleasant stay in an idyllic environment. This 4-star hotel is situated in San Jacinto district in Chiapa de Corzo. It features charming interior décor with eye-catching wooden furnishing.

There are several room options, and some can accommodate up to six travelers. La Ceiba is an ideal pick if you’re heading on a family trip or traveling in a group.

The rooms feature air-conditioning, cable TV, and a private bathroom. At the hotel, you’ll have access to a relaxing spa, swimming pool, restaurant, and terraces with picturesque views.

There is free Wi-Fi and parking available on the premises. The Sumidero Canyon National Park is only 11 miles away from the property. Other scenic attractions that you should visit include the Dr. Faustino Miranda Botanical Garden, Joyyo Mayu Park, and Zoomat Zoo.

Family-Friendly – Holiday Inn Express Tuxtla Gutierrez La Marimba, an IHG Hotel

Nestled in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the Holiday Inn offers comfortable accommodation with epic city views. The contemporary hotel offers a number of room options perfect for couples, families, and those traveling in groups.

The spacious rooms feature air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a coffee maker, and a desk. You’ll also have a private bathroom with a hairdryer and basic toiletries. 

Other services at the hotel include free Wi-Fi, private parking, a small fitness center, and a gift shop. If you need any assistance or recommendations, there is a 24-hour reception and tour desk on the premises. 

The hotel is about 13.4 miles away from the Sumidero Canyon. There are several other attractions in the area, including the La Marimba Park and San Marco Cathedral.

Solo Travel – La Estancia

La Estancia is an excellent option if you’re looking for accommodation in San Cristobal de Las Casas. The hotel is a superb spot for solo travelers and small families. 

The rooms feature a private bathroom, flat-screen TV as well as comfortable bed linen and towels. There is also free Wi-Fi available throughout the premises.

La Estancia offers a spectacular stay with services such as a restaurant, room service, and a 24-hour front desk to see to your needs. Additionally, you can relax on the terrace and in the scenic garden with outdoor furniture.

Getting to Sumidero Canyon National Park will take around one hour from the premises. A few nearby points of interest include the San Cristobal Cathedral, Amber Museum, and El Arcotete.

Budget – Puerta Vieja Hostel

Nestled in San Cristobal de las Casas, Puerta Vieja Hostel offers budget-friendly accommodation in the city center. Staying in a hostel is a great way to meet fellow travelers from around the world in a friendly environment.

Puerta Vieja Hostel offers a variety of accommodation options, including private rooms and shared dormitory rooms with bunk beds. The dormitory room amenities include storage lockers, shared bathrooms, and Wi-Fi.

The shared areas include a TV lounge with video games and a garden with outdoor furniture, a bonfire area, and a bar. There is also a shared kitchen, and an American-style breakfast is included during your stay.

What to Pack 

As a Sumidero Canyon boat ride can take a few hours, you’ll need plenty of drinking water and a few other essentials. Here are a few things to bring along when you’re exploring the canyon:

  • A few bottles of water and high-calorie snacks
  • Comfortable shoes
  • Weather appropriate clothing
  • Sunscreen, sunglasses, and a sunhat
  • Waterproof bags
  • A camera
  • Insect repellent

Tip: You can also bring along a few pesos to tip the boat driver and tour guide.

Plan a Trip to the Beautiful Canon del Sumidero

The Sumidero Canyon is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature and admire the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife in the area.

A trip to Chiapas would certainly be incomplete without visiting this scenic destination.

Whether you plan to explore the canyon by boat or from the popular watchtowers, the views will leave you in awe.

Now that you know more about the adventures that await you, when will you be heading to the captivating Sumidero Canyon?

For more unforgettable experiences in Mexico, check out this guide on Tulum ruins beach.

Travel Guide to Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas, Mexico
Travel Guide to Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas, Mexico