The Copper Canyon Feature

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Copper Canyon Train Ride

The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico—"El Chepe"—passes through 86 tunnels and crosses 37 bridges on its journey through the canyon. The diverse landscapes include farmland, coastal plains, and the Sierra Madre, making this one of the world's most famous train trips.

From either direction, first-class trains depart dependably at 6 am, or you can bypass Los Mochis and depart 1½ hours later from El Fuerte at 8:40 am. A ticket costs $159 each way; arrange stopovers when you buy tickets. The first-class train has a restaurant and bar; food and beverages are not included in ticket prices. With increasing safety concerns about Chihuahua City, many passengers opt to begin or end their journeys in Creel; a Creel–Los Mochis ticket costs $87.

Reserve ahead a week or more in July, August, and October, and a month or more around Christmas and Easter.

If you're departing on the first-class train from the western terminus of Los Mochis, you can expect to be in El Fuerte at 8:40 am, Bahuichivo at 12:40 pm, Posada Barrancas at 1:55 pm, Divisadero at 2:05 pm, Creel at 3:40 pm, and Chihuahua finally at 9 pm that evening. From Chihuahua, you arrive in Creel at 11:20 am, Divisadero at 12:35 pm, Posada Barrancas at 1 pm, Bahuichivo at 2:15 pm, El Fuerte at 6 pm, and Los Mochis at 8:40 pm that evening. Trains in both directions make a 20-minute stop at Divisadero for the best scenic views of the canyon.

The departure times for second-class trains are less certain, but they usually pull out of the station about an hour after the first-class trains. They make more stops along the way, arriving at their final destination about two hours after the first-class train. They're rarely crowded and quite comfortable; the cars were used on the first-class route until a few years ago. A snack car sells bad microwave burritos, sandwiches, and soft drinks. No reservations are needed; tickets are half the price of those on the first-class train. Cars on both trains contain air-conditioning and heating. All trains are no-smoking.

Delays of three hours or so aren't unusual, as cargo trains, which share the rails, break down frequently; don't count on reaching the route's scenic end before dark.

Train Operators

The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico runs a first-class and a second-class train daily each way between Chihuahua and Los Mochis. 614/439-7211; 888/484-1623; 01800/122-4373 toll-free in Mexico. www.chepe.com.mx.

The most dramatic scenery is between El Fuerte and Creel. As the train ascends almost 6,000 feet from El Fuerte to Bahuichivo, the scenery shifts from cacti to the waterfalls and tropical foliage of the Río Septentrión canyon. Past Témoris, the surroundings shift to the oak and pine forest of higher elevations.

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