Sumidero Canyon (map) has vertical walls which reach as high as 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), with the river turning up to 90 degrees during the 13-kilometre (8.1 mi) length of the narrow passage. The canyon is surrounded by the Sumidero Canyon National Park.
The walls of the canyon contain numerous small caves, rock formations and other notable features. The best known of the area’s caves is the Cueva de Colores (“Cave of Colors”). This cave gets its name from the filtration of magnesium, potassium and other minerals which form colors on the walls, especially shades of pink.
Of the various seasonal waterfalls, the best known is the Árbol de Navidad (“Christmas Tree”). The “branches” of the Árbol are made by deposits from the waterfall which have been covered in moss.
There are two ways to visit the Sumidero Canyon in Chiapas: take a boat tour and walk along the viewpoints. These are radically different experiences.
Travel to one of the Miradores (map) if you want to get a bird’s-eye view of the canyon; but if you really want to experience it properly, take a boat ride. The most common embarkation point is at Chiapa de Corzo (map), a short drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez (map). On the road there is nothing to eat, but at the third lookout there are sanitary facilities and a small shop. In the last viewpoint there is a cafeteria where you can taste Chipilín tamales for $25 pesos.
The boat ride could take as long as three hours, so if you are not planning a stop at the Ecological Park, take plenty of drinking water. Also take sun screen and a hat if it’s hot (insect repellent may also be useful).
Just a few minutes from Tuxtla, you can also enjoy an equally spectacular way to observe the Sumidero Canyon from the top of the famous watchtowers. These are small roads at the top of the Sumidero Canyon, offering 6 watchtowers from which you can admire the curves of the Grijalva River in all its splendour.
Each of the watchtowers has its own charm and offers different perspectives to appreciate the Sumidero Canyon.
La Ceiba (map). From this viewpoint you can see Chiapa de Corzo in the distance and the beginning of the Sumidero Canyon that is beginning to take shape.
La Coyota (map). From this viewpoint you can see the great walls that form this natural wonder that is the Sumidero Canyon, always surrounded by lush vegetation.
El Roblar (map). As with La Coyota, from this viewpoint you will go deeper into the Sumidero Canyon, and, in addition to being able to see from a slightly higher vantage point, from where you can appreciate in the distance the Rio Grijalva, which runs through the enormous walls of the Sumidero Canyon.
El Tepehuaje (map). This small watchtower offers a nice view of the Sumidero Canyon in the shade of the trees. Here you will also find a large parking lot and a large space to enjoy the landscape and the boats that pass below.
Los Chiapa (map). It is one of the main viewpoints of the Sumidero Canyon, mainly because it offers an incredible panoramic view. From here you can enjoy a large part of the Sumidero Canyon. Note that this is the highest point of the route.
La Atayala. This is the last of the watchtowers, and it is the perfect place to take a break and finish this trip, as there is a recreation area for children as well as a 2-storey building where you can enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the Sumidero Canyon.