“El Chepe” is the nickname of Mexico’s lengthy Chihuahua-Pacific passenger train. One train leaves daily from Chihuahua City at 6 a.m., headed for Los Mochis, in the state of Sinaloa.
Another train leaves Los Mochis, also early in the morning, for Chihuahua City. Roughly in the middle of this route is Copper Canyon, now with two train stops, at Divisadero, a point along the Continental Divide, and at Posada Barrancas.
We settled into our first-class seats on this morning before heading to the dining car when it opened shortly into the trip. A traditionally rail-dressed waiter took our orders from a large menu of freshly prepared huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, fruit and coffee, as the hilly Chihuahua landscape glided by. It seemed like a scene from the golden age of movies.
United flies nonstop to Chihuahua. Tourists generally ride the “El Chepe” train starting in Chihuahua City to one of the two Copper Canyon stops along the train route, Divisadero and Posada Barrancas, where clusters of hotels operate.
Our four-day, three-night package covering Copper Canyon and Creel, booked through Mexico City-based agency Tren Barrancas del Cobre, cost about $640 per person and included round-trip train fare between Chihuahua and Copper Canyon, and transfers to and stays at two hotels, Hotel Mirador at the canyon and a Best Western in Creel. Most meals and the tours are included in the package, which can fluctuate in cost with the dollar-peso exchange rate.
Check the U.S. Department of State for up-to-date Mexico travel advisories concerning safety; travel.state.gov.
The train ride is half the fun of visiting Copper Canyon. The train route itself is a miracle, crossing 37 bridges and traveling through 86 tunnels. The train started operations in 1928 on part of the 418-mile route, which was finished in 1961. The passenger cars are not equipped with WiFi, but the scenery along the way is enough to keep passengers entertained.