the oldest and most trusted online guide to Mexico
  Home | About Us | Classifieds | Get Help | Mailing List | Message Board | Site Map   
 City Guide
 Food & Drink
 Real Estate
 City Info
 Message Board
 Tourist Info
 Advertise Here
 City Maps
 Copper Canyon |  Locator
 Nearby Places
 Basaseachi Falls
 El Fuerte
 Los Mochis
 Sinforosa Canyon
 Urique Canyon
 City Guides
 Site Directory
 Travel Directory
 MEXonline Home

  COPPER CANYON - Chihuahua al Pacifico Train

The Copper Canyon railroad, officially known as the Chihuahua al Pacifico, is one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring rail journeys in the Western Hemisphere, maybe the world. Traveling through coastal shrub, fertile valleys, pine forests, high desert, and next to towering canyon walls, incredible vistas, sheer drop-offs, flowing waterfalls, and over bridges and through tunnels numerous times, it's no wonder this train journey as been referred to as the "train ride in the sky".

The rail trip from Los Mochis to Chihuahua has 36 major bridges and 87 tunnels. The train follows a tortuous route from sea level to a maximum elevation of more than 8,000 feet at its highest point.

For visitors, the recommended route has travelers departing west to east, boarding in Los Mochis or El Fuerte (further up the line). El Fuerte is the recommended departure point, since it is a more attractive town, and the train departs 90 minutes later than the train leaving Los Mochis.

The main reason for suggesting this west-to-east route is better canyon viewing during daylight hours. The line's most spectacular scenery is between Temoris and Cerocahui, on the western flank of the Sierra Madre mountains. The eastbound train travels this section during peak sunlight hours (10am-12 noon), while the train from Chihuahua may enter this area after sundown (especially during the winter months). However, using Chihuahua as a departure point, due to it's first class facilities, is recommended if possible.

There are two trains daily in each direction: Primera Especial and Segunda Clase. Primera Clase is first class. Most first class trains will have a restaurant and bar car, comfortable seats and security. Segunda Clase is second class, and about half the price of first class. It is only recommended as a last resort, as the cars will be crowded and not well-tended, without a restaurant car, and is much slower, thus you may not see the sights of the Canyons. The train trip takes about 13 hours one way, 15-16 hours for second class.

In all cases, best views are generally from the windows on the south side (right side if you are traveling west to east) of the train.
There are a number of different ways to "ride the rails" of the Copper Canyon. Deluxe, all inclusive rail tours are available through private companies that either own or lease special rail cars. Travelers on a budget or those who want to travel independently, can purchase their ticket through specific travel agencies in Chihuahua or Sinaloa. You can also purchase a ticket at the station, but it is recommended to get there at least an hour before the train leaves in case of crowds. You can find the aforementioned in the Tourist Services section.
Those arriving by train (versus visitors that drive from Chihuahua to Creel) catch glimpses of three canyons. The best viewing of the canyons is at one of two stations: Divisadero and Posada Barrancas. Both are scheduled stops along the way. NOTE: Divisadero stop is for 15 minutes and allows easy canyon viewing. Posada Barrancas stop is even briefer, with canyon views a short walk up to the rim. Ask the conductor if you have time to take a look.

These are the two most popular stop-over points for most visitors. Backpackers, campers and explorers usually opt for the Creel or Bahuichivo stations as departure points for treks into the Batopilas and Urique canyons. All four stations offer lodging, some facilities, and interesting day hikes/tours. Creel has the most facilities and is the Copper Canyon's largest town.

A Brief Bit of History
In 1861 Albert Kinsey Owen, an American utopian dreamer, first conceived of the idea to construct a rail line between Topolobampo Bay in Sinaloa and Kansas City, Kansas. The route would shorten the existing rail route from San Francisco to Kansas City by more than 400 miles.

A contract with the Mexican government in 1863 was granted. When funds were not secured, the contract was given to Foster Higgins of the Rio Grande, Sierra Madre, and Pacific Railway Company. The Higgins company completed a line from Ciudad Juarez to Casas Grandes both in Chihuahua before giving up on the project.

Enrique Creel (the person whose name graces the Copper Canyon town of Creel) of the Kansas City, Mexico, and Orient Railway saw a potential for the rail line to prosper and finished a line to La Junta, Chihuahua from Casas Grandes between 1910-1914. The company also began the Ojinaga to Creel line passing through Chihuahua, but work was halted with start of the Mexican Revolution of 1914.

In 1928, the western route from Topolobampo to El Fuerte was finished, but there was still a gap of 161 miles between El Fuerte and Creel which was to be the most difficult terrain to construct the railway. After nationalizing the railroads in 1940, the government finally finished the line in 1961 almost exactly 100 years after Albert Kinsey Owen's grand idea.

 Home » City Guides the oldest and most trusted online guide to Mexico