Elevation: 3,950 ft
GPS: 25.2695, -103.7442
Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 33,031 total · 229/month
Shared By: Daniel Max Christiansen on Nov 16, 2011
Admins: Hank Caylor, Mauricio Herrera Cuadra, Ricardo Orozco

General Information

Situated in the northern Mexican state of Durango, the climbing area known affectionately by area locals as “La Presa” takes its namesake from the adjacent Presa Francisco Zarco, a medium-sized reservoir, even though all climbing is located within Durango's Fernandez Canyon State Park. This reservoir is formed by a dam that blocks the Río Nazas as it drains Durango's massive Sierra Madre Occidental. As a result, the river flows perennially through the cliffs of La Presa, allowing for a unique (and refreshing) climbing experience in the heart of Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert.

Centered within the climbing areas of La Presa is the quaint town of Nuevo Graceros. Nuevo Graceros (formerly Graceros) used to be situated on what is now the bottom of the reservoir. During the 1950s, it was moved building-by-building to its new location, and at times of low volume it is said that the steeple of what was Graceros's main church can be seen poking out of the water’s surface.

La Presa features three developed sport climbing areas: El Reliz de Los Venados to the west and Los Sabinos and Las Ventanas to the east. El Reliz de los Venados can be accessed all year long with any vehicle and during times of low water Los Sabinos and Las Ventanas can be accessed with those that have high-torque or 4x4 capability; however, access to Los Sabinos and Las Ventanas is limited during times of high water. For the majority of the year, the Nazas flows below 100 cubic feet per second (cfs), but during the summer growing season (April to August) the river can rise to over 5000 cfs as it supplies water via an intricate canal system to irrigate the agricultural land that surrounds the nearby communities of Torreón, Gómez Palacio, and Lerdo–known collectively as La Comarca Lagunera.

The Nazas is not only of great importance to La Comarca Lagunera, being that it facilitates the region’s agroindustrial economic base, but it is of great ecological significance to the adjacent desert as well. This rare riparian corridor is home to a plethora of resident bird and mammal species and is an important wintering and lay-over stop for waterfowl and raptors as they make their annual boreal migration.


From Torreón:
1. Take Mex 40 West to Gómez Palacio.
2. Continue on Mex 40 for 22.5 km past the turn-off for Mex 49D South through Lerdo and West through Los Angeles to Mex 49D.
3. Take Mex 49D for 41.3 km to exit signed for La Presa Francisco Zarco.
4. Exit highway right onto the road to La Presa.
5. Continue for 10 km through the town of Graceros to climbing areas.

From Chihuahua:
1. Take Mex 45 South to Jiménez.
2. Merge onto Mex 49D South in Jiménez.
3. Take Mex 49D past Torreón/Gómez Palacio for 60 km to exit signed for La Presa Francisco Zarco.
4. Exit highway right onto the road to La Presa.
5. Continue for 10 km through the town of Graceros to climbing areas.

From Zacatecas:
1. Take Mex 49D North past Fresnillo and Cuencamé to the town of San Lorenzo.
2. Exit right and take Mex 40 for 10 km.
3. Turn left onto the road signed for La Presa Francisco Zarco.
4. Continue for 10.5 km through the town of Graceros to climbing areas.


The only developed campground at La Presa is El Faro de los Arturos. This three-acre enclosure located on the banks of the river to the east of Nuevo Graceros offers guests midpoint camping access to all three of the climbing areas. In addition, guests of Los Arturos can enjoy cabins for rent, a large camping lawn, grills, bathrooms with showers, electrical hook-ups, secure overnight parking, and a restaurant that serves tasty fish dinners. To reach Los Arturos, turn east off of the main road in Nuevo Graceros onto a 2-wheel-drive dirt road adjacent to the small blue “Caseta de Cobro” building at the north end of town (during weekends and peak seasons the town of Graceros charges a small fee to continue up the main road to the reservoir just past the “Caseta de Cobro” demarcated by a traffic cone barricade–if coming from the freeway, turn right before the barricade). Continue down the road to the campground at the river.

All other camping at La Presa that can be accessed by a 2-wheel-drive vehicle is located in between Nuevo Graceros and the tunnels along four dirt-road offshoots that descend towards the river. The first of these offshoots is located directly below El Reliz and offers a near-zero approach from camping to climbing. To access this area when driving from Nuevo Graceros to the reservoir, turn right at the sign marked “Bajada al Río” just past the precipice of El Reliz. The three subsequent offshoots also offer riverside camping, as well as public bathrooms (if they are unlocked). Be advised that these campsites are frequented by the recreational-camper/picnicker types who often hold raucous family gatherings during the warmer parts of the year (think Banda music blasted from car stereos). Please be respectful of local customs in these multiuse areas. Pro bono litter collection is also encouraged.

Those that seek a more wilderness camping experience should camp within Fernandez Canyon itself, where the braying of an occasional burro or the cackling of coyotes are all that break the nocturnal desert stillness. Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere in Fernandez Canyon State Park; the park boundaries are outlined in green when viewed with Google Earth or Google Maps. Water-level permitting, the entirety of the canyon can be traversed via a 4x4 jeep trail that begins with a river crossing located at Los Arturos. Many shaded drive- and walk-in campsites are located along the river within the canyon. When camping in the canyon, please adhere to Leave No Trace principles.

Climbing at La Presa

The rock at La Presa is exclusively limestone, exposed over a million years ago during a period of marine-bed uplift. On most routes, especially the face climbs of El Reliz and Las Ventanas, the rock is very, very sharp. Here, the slightly acidic nature of rainwater has dissolved the rock into vertical groves and horizontal crimps that are riddled with points, making rock features abundant albeit at times highly uncomfortable. Ranging from 5.6 to 5.12d, overhung to slab, and face to crack, the rock at La Presa features a wide spectrum of rock climbing styles at a variety of difficulty levels.

La Presa is a sport climbing area. Foreign climbers may be surprised with the extent at which climbs are bolted–bolts are often placed less than three meters apart and the area features several bolted cracks. To date, bolting of new routes in Fernandez Canyon State Park is allowed everywhere except for the East Face of El Reliz where the wall is decorated by pictographs. Please respect and enjoy this important archeological site.


Nuevo Graceros
The town of Nuevo Graceros offers climbers modest amenities (food, ice, water, beer) at one of its stores or restaurants.

•Abarrotes “Yumaby” Gas, ice, and charcoal. 6 peso gorditas.
•Mini Súper “Jazmín” Gas and convenience-store-esque food items.
•Estanquillo “Alex” Ice, water, charcoal.
•Gas Station, Auto Shop, and Hardware Store Located in front of “Alex.”
•Tire Repair Shop
•Expendio Carta Blanca “Deposito Graseros” Beer (supposedly) sold 24/7.
•Restaurante “Chabe” Dinners, soda, and beer.
•“Carmelita” Located outside of Graceros on the way to the reservoir. Dinners, beer, and firewood.

At the Reservoir
Continue 3 km up the road past Nuevo Graceros through two tunnels to the reservoir and one will a encounter secondary development of vacation homes, fishing clubs, and seafood restaurants that cater to watersport enthusiasts, fishermen, and climbers alike.

•Restaurante “Lupita” Great balcony view. 9am a 7pm.
•Restaurante “La Cooperativa” Almost never open
•Restaurante “Lobina Negra” Thatched roof dining area and excellent ceviche. This is the preferred choice of local escaladores for post-climb chilling. A Presa must.
•Restaurante “Mary” Open all night?
•Restaurante “La Mojarrita” Great view of the reservoir and La Mesa.

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