Estrella Blanca buses run about every other hour from Chihuahua City for about $20 one way. These are local(non-express) buses that make many stops along the way. So, they aren't real fast but are comfortable and convenient nonetheless.
The train also leaves from Chihuahua City daily at 6 am. As of April 2014, First and Economy class trains are combined to one only on Mon, Thu, Sat departures. The rest of the days are first class only.
The train fare has gone up significantly. Second class train from Chihuahua to Creel costs 711 Pesos (approx $60), 1st class is about 1.5x of that. The scenery between Chihuahua and Creel is mostly unimpressive so many recommend taking a cheaper, faster, and more frequent bus ride instead. Scenery after Creel is very impressive so switch to the train in Creel to El Fuelte.
It is possible to ride to Bauchivio disembark there and catch the bus (which will be waiting for the train) for a ride down into the canyon.
Refer to Chepe website for updated fare and schedule information.
Horseback is certainly the best way to see the copper canyon area (sierra tarahumara). They can be hired from a number of people in Creel. If your Spanish is good you can negotiate pretty good rates from non-commercial rancheros. If you can't afford horses (or are afraid of them) mountain biking, atv's, dirtbikes can also be hired in town. Or a good pair of hiking boots and strong legs will take you to many beautiful sites not far from town.
The scenery to the east, south, and west of Creel is breathtaking. The easiest area to access is probably the Mesa to the immediate east of town. This is the location of Lago Arareko, the Rio Conchas canyon, and the Valley of the Frogs and the Monks (Valle de las Ranas, Valle de los Monques). A good canyon hike is to make your way to Lago Arareko then follow the stream that flows out of the lake (gradually forming Tarahueca canyon) down to the Recohuata Hot Springs area. Plan to camp a night or two down in the canyon, before walking the cobblestone road back up to the rim and the highway where its easy to hitch a ride back into Creel. If hitching fails its downhill all the way along the highway until you reach town so walking is easy.
Mountain biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing are all easy to arrange in Creel. During Semana Santa, helicopter flights through the surrounding canyons are also available (note: Creel is very crowded with Mexican tourists from the large southern cities during the week preceding Easter Sunday).
The Tarahumara Mission store next to the Catholic Church on the town's main plaza is a good source for maps, guidebooks, and locally produced crafts. Some of the employees are also good for area information. Lots of small souvenir shops on the town's main street (Indian blankets, sandals or huaraches, shirts etc). Proceeds from the mission store support Tarahumara schools and medical clinics.
Tio Molca's on the town's main street is perhaps the best place in town. There are many other restaurants but they all have essentially the same menu. The food is good in most of them, but one wishes there was a little more variety available. The hangover hospital (el tuncar) next to the railroad station is something of a local institution and should be given a try. Also at night there are food carts downtown selling tasty hot dogs and burgers (nothing fancy but delicious all the same). During the day there's usually a few grills going near the town's small market area.
As of 2014, even though the Copper Canyon area is a lot safer to visit than a few years ago, Creel are still suffering of lack of tourist. Hostal Margarita is closed as of June 2014 and only its upscale operation Hotel Plaza Mexicana Margarita is in operation.
It is, however, the great time to visit Creel as you can get substantial saving in hotels and tours, if you negotiate with them directly.
Margarita's is the most well known of the bunch. It's a hostel with beds in large dorm for $8, beds in small dorm for $10 or private rooms from $20up. These prices include both breakfast and dinner. Meals are good but a little small to really be filling, but they're free. Margarita's has a common area, a kitchen, and also organizes trips and excursions. This is really the backpacker center of Copper Canyon and could be considered the northern terminus of the gringo trail (though some might argue that the trail really ends in Santa Fe NM).
Tel: (01-635) 456-00-45. Cel: (635) 106-90-16 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org website: http://www.casamargaritacreel.com.mx/
Tel: (01-635) 456-0108. Cel: (635) 106-90-16 e-mail: email@example.com website: http://www.casamargaritacreel.com.mx/
There are numerous guide services available in Creel. Uramike's Expeditions run by a friendly Mexican man and his Welsh wife are often recommended. Even if you don't hire him, he is generous with information and area advice. But there are lots of others (Margarita's and many of the other hotels offer guided excursions) so don't hesitate to shop around.
Guachochi, the cultural center of the Tarahumara as well as the jumping off point for Sinforosa Canyon (the queen of the canyons) is two and half hours away by modern bus on spectacular, smooth, paved highway.