Chihuahua, The Train, and my Bucket List
By Judy Abbott
Although our website specializes in the state of Yucatán, from time to time when we visit somewhere spectacular in other regions of Mexico, we like to let our readers know.
The Copper Canyon, Los Mochis and the Chepe train have been on my Bucket List for about eight years now. When Confetur (Convivencia Feminina Turística) announced their national convention in Chihuahua and that it was going to include a trip on the Chepe train from Los Mochis to Divisadero, I knew I had to go.
The Chihuahua to Pacific train, AKA the Chepe train, travels between Chihuahua (city) in the state of Chihuahua and Los Mochis in Sinaloa with the half-way point being the Copper Canyon in Divisadero. It is the last passenger train in Mexico with 673 km (418 miles) of tracks that traverse the beautiful and rugged series of canyons of the Copper Canyon. It is both an important transportation system for locals and cargo and a big draw for tourists.
Taking 90 years to build (late 1800’s – 1961) the tracks pass over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels, starting at sea level in Los Mochis and rising as high as 2,400 meters (7,900 ft) above sea level near Divisadero and then to 800 meters in Chihuahua city. Each one-way trip takes roughly 14 to 16 hours.
Today the Chepe has two passenger trains running daily 365 days a year: one is the slightly slower service for locals and cargo where boarding or disembarkation can be made at passengers’ request, and the other a direct service for tourists which is faster and more expensive.
While onboard, we had a delicious breakfast in the dining car where the full menu offered a variety of breakfast options. We felt pampered as we clickety-clacked along the tracks. The excellently equipped kitchen serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner while the lounge cars offer all varieties of drinks and a place for close camaraderie on the trip. Happy hour and cocktail parties enliven everyone’s spirits. There is AC throughout the train. After breakfast we lounged in the comfortable seats in the passenger car. In our group of 70 ladies, some read, others slept, while others gathered in groups to talk; then we gathered for our convention’s general assembly.
Our guide, Ivan, did a fabulous job of filling our heads with all the data about the Chepe train. The fact that most impressed me is that this train is the last passenger train in all of Mexico.
You can either arrange your train ride and accommodations independently, or book a complete package. You may want to just take the train ride for the view and experience as part of your trip in Mexico, or spend a week in the region, using the train line as your main route through the canyons, stopping overnight to explore and discover the local areas.
Whichever way you choose to experience Copper Canyon, the most important piece of advice is to book in advance - you can not just arrive and expect to find a hotel room and a train ticket - especially during the busy high season.
For packages and info: www.mexicoscoppercanyon.com/chepe.htm