It’s not easy to get to the town of Batopilas, one of Mexico’s “magic towns.” Along the river in the Copper Canyon region of Mexico’s Chihuahua state, Batopilas sits at the bottom of a serpentine road, with more than a hundred switchbacks. Rock slides — a not infrequent occurrence — make the drive, several hours from the town of Creel at the top of the canyon, even more challenging.
But like many difficult-to-reach destinations, Batopilas is worth the effort, particularly if you stay at the Riverside Lodge, a classic hacienda-style inn in the town center.
Here’s the scoop:
The sprawling adobe building housing the Riverside Lodge was originally constructed in the 1800s as a private home, when Batopilas was a hub for silver mining operations.
If you’re curious about the region’s early days, stop into the lodge’s small library, where old books and pamphlets about the area line the shelves. Or ask the helpful on-site property manager Martin, who can tell you more tales about the property.
The property was converted into a hotel in 1992, with 12 guest rooms divided between the two ends of the block-long building. In the center is a courtyard, dining area, and sitting rooms where guests can read or just hang out. You can climb to a roof deck or into the tower topped with a blue dome for views over the town.
Riverside Lodge isn’t a luxury property, but it feels romantic in a sweetly old-fashioned way, with ornate tile floors, wicker furnishings, and sturdy wooden or metal beds topped with soft duvets.
The guest rooms all have names, not numbers. Martin explained that the workers who restored the property named many of the rooms for their wives.
Many of the rooms have claw foot tubs (with shower attachments) tucked into corners or nooks. Bathrooms are small but functional, stocked with thick towels and bathrobes.
In this historic property, don’t expect modern amenities like televisions or coffee makers. The property has limited internet service; we found that we could pick up a slow Wi-Fi signal next to the office in the center of the building, but not in the guest rooms.
Martin or his staff serve a continental breakfast for guests, which is included in the rates: rolls with delicious homemade marmalade, fresh fruit, yogurt, and coffee or tea.
You don’t have to hunt for “attractions” to enjoy the town of Batopilas. Just strolling the narrow streets lined with brightly painted homes, or watching the world go by from the town square, would be peaceful way to pass a couple of days.
The town does have a small museum that details the area’s history. More intrepid travelers can follow the dirt road a few miles from town to the Satevo Mission, a church that dates to the 1700s.
It may take a bit of magic — or at least a driver with nerves of steel — to get to Batopilas. Even the Riverside Lodge website helpfully informs prospective guests that, “The road is entirely paved except for the detours for landslides.” (!)
But if you can find your way to this Mexican “magic town,” a stay at the Riverside Lodge has magic of its own.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Visita Chihuahua, the state tourism organization, in partnership with Riverside Lodge, hosted my stay for review purposes.