How to Visit Copper Canyon by Train

As of May 17th, 2018 Chepe launched a brand new train called Chepe Express! As a result, schedules for the old train, now called Chepe Regional, have changed. This page has been updated to reflect the changes and has all the new information for the Chepe Express.

Journey through the Copper Canyon by train and experience one of the most scenic train rides in the world.

The Copper Canyon is one of Mexico’s lesser-known gems. Situated in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, this canyon system is larger, and in some places deeper, than the Grand Canyon. The majority of the landscape in inaccessible but in the mid-1960s, after nearly 60 years of on and off construction, the painstaking process of laying railway tracks through the canyons was completed. Now, the train known as El Chepe is an important form of transportation for locals and the absolute best way for tourists to explore some of the most stunning views in all of Mexico.

As El Chepe chugs along its 653 km (405 mi) of track, a journey which takes anywhere from 9 to 16 hours, it crosses over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels. It climbs to an elevation of 2400 m (7900 ft) and descends to sea level, passing through diverse and stunning scenery along the way. Among its stops are at least 5 towns worth visiting where you’ll have opportunities for adventure, hiking, learning about new cultures and taking in the magnificent landscapes.

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The Copper Canyon Train – El Chepe

The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico, better known as El Chepe, is one of the only commuter trains in Mexico but it’s also the best way for tourists to visit the remote and awe-inspiring Copper Canyon.

The 653 km (405 mi) of track runs between Chihuahua, Chihuahua and Los Mochis, Sinaloa with 5 notable towns in between. Although the trip can be completed in just one day it is well worth extending the journey to last a few days or even a few weeks. Stopping and spending a few nights in the towns along the way is what makes a visit to the Copper Canyon so special.

As of May 2018, a brand new, luxury express train has been added to the daily schedule meaning there are now two ways to visit the Copper Canyon by train.

The older train is now known as Chepe Regional, and the new luxury train is called Chepe Express. There are a few very significant differences:

  1. The price. Prices for the Chepe Express are 3 to 5 times greater than that of the Chepe Regional!
  2. The schedule.
    • The Chepe Regional travels in both directions but not every day. For further schedule details see below.
    • The Chepe Express does a round trip once per day but starts in Creel (not Chihuahua).
  3. The comfort. Although I would not consider the Chepe Regional to be uncomfortable, it is an older train with basic amenities including washrooms and a dining car. The new Chepe Express, however, is a luxury train complete with a bar car, a panoramic viewing car and a restaurant car.
  4. The route. The Chepe Regional makes all the stops between Chihuahua and Los Mochis for both tourists and local commuters. The Chepe Express only runs between Los Mochis and Creel and stops only at the main tourist destinations.

Choosing which train to take will very likely be determined by your budget as there is such a huge discrepancy in ticket prices. Keep in mind that if you choose to travel exclusively on the Chepe Regional (lower prices), then you’ll want to carefully plan your trip as it does not run every day. The next section will outline the train schedules in detail.

Copper Canyon by Train – Schedules and Routes

This part can be a little confusing so in order to keep things as clear as possible, this section is divided into two parts: Chepe Regional and Chepe Express.

Chepe Regional Schedule and Route

Copper Canyon Train - Chepe Regional Schedule

The Chepe Regional runs in both directions between Chihuahua and Los Mochis and makes all the stops for both locals and tourists. However, it does not run every day.

From Chihuahua towards Los Mochis, trains only run on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. From Los Mochis towards Chihuahua, trains only run on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Below are detailed timetables for each direction for the main tourist stops.

CHIHUAHUA towards LOS MOCHIS
Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays ONLY

DestinationArrival/Departure
Chihuahua6:00 am
Cuauhtémoc8:25 am
Creel11:47 am
Divisadero12:42 pm
Posada Barrancas1:41 pm
Bahuichivo3:12 pm
El Fuerte7:19 pm
Los Mochis9:28 pm

LOS MOCHIS towards CHIHUAHUA
Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays ONLY

DestinationArrival/Departure
Los Mochis6:00 am
El Fuerte8:19 am
Bahuichivo12:24 pm
Posada Barrancas 1:46 pm
Divisadero 1:50 pm
Creel3:39 pm
Cuauhtémoc7:07 pm
Chihuahua9:34 pm

In my experience, the trains are almost always a little behind schedule but it’s recommended that you show up at least 20-30 minutes before the train is scheduled to arrive.

Chepe Express Schedule and Route

Copper Canyon Train - Chepe Express Schedule

The Chepe Express completes a round-trip every day, travelling from Creel to Los Mochis and back again. It does not go all the way to Chihuahua and it skips Bahuichivo station. Below are the timetables for all the Chepe Express stops in both directions.

CREEL towards LOS MOCHIS – Daily

DestinationArrival/Departure
Creel6:00 am
Divisadero7:15 am
El Fuerte12:55 pm
Los Mochis3:05 pm

LOS MOCHIS towards CREEL – Daily

DestinationArrival/Departure
Los Mochis3:55 pm
El Fuerte5:45 pm
Divisadero11:20 pm
Creel12:55 am

The information above was accurate at the time of writing. Always double check the schedule on the Chepe website before making a purchase.

The return trip on the Chepe Express will mostly be in the dark defeating the purpose of the scenic train ride. In my opinion, it would only be worth doing if you’re very limited on time.

Copper Canyon by Train – Ticket Prices

Ticket prices vary greatly between the two trains and between the two classes within each train.

The Chepe Regional is split into two classes: Economic and Tourist. The difference is that Economic class is primarily used for local commuters and tickets cannot be reserved. These tickets are purchased on the train the day of travel. Economic ticket holders do not have access to the dining car. Tourist class ticket holders have access to the dining car but the food is not included in the price.

The Chepe Express is also split into two classes: Tourist and Executive. Tourist tickets provide access to the restaurant car and the bar car but food and drinks are not included in the ticket price. Executive tickets include access to the restaurant plus a meal, access to the bar car and access to the panoramic viewing car.

The image below will give you an idea of the differences between the 4 options and the prices for a one-way ticket across the entire route. Note that the Chepe Express does not go all the way to Chihuahua.

Copper Canyon by Train - Differences between Chepe Regional and Chepe Express

*Prices in USD were calculated using an exchange rate of 0.054 MXP per 1.oo USD. The USD prices will vary depending on the exchange rate.

Chepe Regional Ticket Prices

Economic

Economic tickets are like a form of public transportation; they’re purchased on-the-go and you cannot make reservations. A single trip from Chihuahua to Los Mochis is much cheaper than the Tourist class, however, if you wish to stay at any of the towns along the way you will need to purchase each segment of your trip individually. Individual segments vary in price and you can obtain these by sending an email to [email protected]

Economic tickets are best for those who do not wish to be tied to specific dates.

Economic tickets are not recommended during high season (July, August, Christmas and Easter week), as the train is usually quite full. If there is no room you won’t be able to board.

Tourist

Purchasing a Tourist ticket entitles you to deboard at three different stations. For example, purchasing a ticket from Chihuahua to El Fuerte means you can also get off at Creel, Divisadero and Bahuichivo along the way. Because of the train’s schedule, however, you would need to stay in each town for at least 2 nights. Remember, the train only runs on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays in that particular direction.

You will need to declare which stops you plan to disembark and the exact dates when you purchase your tickets. More information on how to purchase tickets below.

If you wish to get off at more than three stops then you’ll be charged for the additional segments at a slightly higher rate. These rates can be found on the Chepe website.

You can mix and match Tourist and Economic tickets to save money if you plan to make more than three stops.

HOT TIP: Taking a bus between El Fuerte and Los Mochis is only $70 MXP. You can save money and you won’t miss any spectacular views.

Below are price tables for the Chepe Regional Economic and Tourist classes. These tables display prices from Chihuahua to the corresponding destinations. For individual segment prices see the Chepe website or send an email to [email protected] asking for the Economic prices.

Economic

Chihuahua to:Price (MXP)
Cuauhtémoc385
Creel860
Divisadero1,028
Posada Barrancas1,040
Bahuichivo1,161
El Fuerte1,657
Los Mochis1,891

Tourist

Chihuahua to:Price (MXP)
Cuauhtémoc667
Creel1,490
Divisadero1,781
Posada Barrancas1,801
Bahuichivo2,012
El Fuerte2,870
Los Mochis3,276

Chepe Express Ticket Prices

Tourist and Executive

Purchasing a Chepe Express ticket in either class entitles you to deboard at two stops in between your start and end point. For example, if you purchase a ticket from Creel to Los Mochis, you can also get off at Divisadero and El Fuerte along the way. As the train does not return until the next day you will need to stay for a minimum of 1 night in each town.

As with the Chepe Regional, you’ll need to declare which stops you plan to disembark and the exact dates when purchasing the tickets.

Unlike the Regional, the Chepe Express offers a discount for round-trip tickets if you need to get back to your starting point.

Below are the price tables for the Chepe Express Tourist and Executive classes. The tables display the prices from Creel to the corresponding destinations and the prices for a round-trip. For individual segment prices visit the Chepe website.

Tourist

Creel to:One-Way (MXP)Round-Trip (MXP)
Divisadero9701,350
El Fuerte5,1907,260
Los Mochis5,9608,350

Executive

Creel to:One-Way (MXP)Round-Trip (MXP)
Divisadero1,5502,170
El Fuerte8,32011,640
Los Mochis9,55013,370

How many days do I need to see the Copper Canyon by train?

This, of course, will depend on many factors. How much time do you have? What do you want to see? What activities would you like to do?

If you’re on a tight schedule it’s possible to see some great sights in the Copper Canyon in just a couple of days but I’d highly recommend spending at least a week travelling through the Canyons and towns nestled within them.

Below is an example itinerary and a great starting point for planning a trip. Click on any destination to learn more about what to see and do in that location.

Sample One-way itinerary from Chihuahua towards Los Mochis:

Day 1 – ChihuahuaCreel
Day 2 – Creel
Day 3 – CreelDivisadero (Posada Barrancas)
Day 4 – Divisadero – Bahuichivo (Cerocahui)
Day 5 – Cerocahui
Day 6 – Bahuichivo – El Fuerte
Day 7 – El Fuerte – Los Mochis (Topolobampo)

Use this as a starting point for your planning and add or take away destinations to suit your schedule and budget. You can also save time and money by taking a bus between Creel and Divisadero or between El Fuerte and Los Mochis, and you won’t miss any spectacular views. See the Additional Information section below for more details about substituting buses for the train in certain areas.

The Copper Canyon Train Stations

Chihuahua

If you’re traveling through Copper Canyon by train Chihuahua will very likely be your start or end point. It’s the largest city along the Chepe route and the easiest to access by international or even domestic flights. There is an interesting history to explore here and you can learn more about it by clicking on the photo or title.

Copper Canyon by Train - Chihuahua, Mexico
Copper Canyon by Train - Creel, Mexico

 Creel

One of Mexico’s “Pueblo Mágicos” this little town on the outskirts of the Copper Canyon has a wide and unique assortment of nature to explore and a variety of ways to do it. Whether you prefer to hike, bike, ATV or drive you’ll appreciate a visit to the Valley of the Frogs, relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of the Recohuata Hot Springs or taking a trip to Cusárare Falls. You’ll also have an opportunity to discover the Rarámuri culture first-hand. Click the photo or title to learn more about Creel.

Divisadero and Posada Barrancas

These are two different train stops but they are very close together.

At Divisadero everyone will have an opportunity to exit the train for 15 minutes to snap some photos at a lookout point. This is the best spot for stunning views of the Copper Canyon ravines. There is one hotel at this stop if you want to spend a night but there are more hotel options at the Posada Barrancas stop.

Copper Canyon by Train - Divisadero, Mexico

There are a few tourist attractions accessible from either town you choose to stay in. These include a cable car, zip lines (including the fasted and longest in the world), bike rides, ATV, and rock climbing.

Copper Canyon by Train - Bahuichivo, Mexico

Bahuichivo Station

From the Bahuichivo stop you can travel to either Cerocahui or Urique. Both towns are deep in the Tarahumara Mountain Range.

Cerocahui is a 20 minute car ride from the Bahuichivo stop. Trekking or horsebacking riding to the Cerocahui Waterfalls is a popular activity in this area. You can also book a tour to the Gallego Hill viewpoint for some breathtaking views of the Canyon system.

Urique is about a 2 and a half hour ride away from the Bahuichivo stop. The route through the mountains is beautiful but not for the faint of heart! It’s also possible to trek here from Cerocahui. Once there take in your surroundings while cooling off in the river.

El Fuerte

Another of Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” located in the state of Sinaloa on the banks of the Fuerte River. El Fuerte is known for its fort, for which the city is named after. It’s also known as the birthplace of the legendary Zorro. You can visit both buildings – the fort is now a replica and a museum and Zorro’s childhood home is a hotel. Click the image or title to learn more about El Fuerte.

Copper Canyon by Train - El Fuerte, Mexico
Copper Canyon by Train - Topolobampo, Mexico

Los Mochis (and Topolobampo)

Los Mochis itself isn’t a terribly exciting or picturesque city but it is a handy hub if you are arriving from or want to travel to Baja California, Guadalajara or elsewhere in Mexico. The close-by port of Topolobampo is a much better place to visit and tour around or catch a ferry to La Paz, Baja California Sur. Enjoy the beach, take a dip in the ocean, eat fantastic seafood or book a tour of the Farallón natural reserve.

The Copper Canyon Train Stations

Copper Canyon by Train - Chihuahua, Mexico

Chihuahua

If you’re traveling through Copper Canyon by train Chihuahua will very likely be your start or end point. It’s the largest city along the Chepe route and the easiest to access by international or even domestic flights. There is an interesting history to explore here and you can learn more about it by clicking on the photo or title.

Copper Canyon by Train - Creel, Mexico

 Creel

One of Mexico’s “Pueblo Mágicos” this little town on the outskirts of the Copper Canyon has a wide and unique assortment of nature to explore and a variety of ways to do it. Whether you prefer to hike, bike, ATV or drive you’ll appreciate a visit to the Valley of the Frogs, relaxing in the beautiful surroundings of the Recohuata Hot Springs or taking a trip to Cusárare Falls. You’ll also have an opportunity to discover the Rarámuri culture first-hand. Click the photo or title to learn more about Creel.

Copper Canyon by Train - Divisadero, Mexico

Divisadero and Posada Barrancas

These are two different train stops but they are very close together.

At Divisadero everyone will have an opportunity to exit the train for 15 minutes to snap some photos at a lookout point. This is the best spot for stunning views of the Copper Canyon ravines. There is one hotel at this stop if you want to spend a night but there are more hotel options at the Posada Barrancas stop.

There are a few tourist attractions accessible from either town you choose to stay in. These include a cable car, zip lines (including the fasted and longest in the world), bike rides, ATV, and rock climbing.

Copper Canyon by Train - Bahuichivo, Mexico

Bahuichivo Station

From the Bahuichivo stop you can travel to either Cerocahui or Urique. Both towns are deep in the Tarahumara Mountain Range.

Cerocahui is a 20 minute car ride from the Bahuichivo stop. Trekking or horsebacking riding to the Cerocahui Waterfalls is a popular activity in this area. You can also book a tour to the Gallego Hill viewpoint for some breathtaking views of the Canyon system.

Urique is about a 2 and a half hour ride away from the Bahuichivo stop. The route through the mountains is beautiful but not for the faint of heart! It’s also possible to trek here from Cerocahui. Once there take in your surroundings while cooling off in the river.

Copper Canyon by Train - El Fuerte, Mexico

El Fuerte

Another of Mexico’s “Pueblos Mágicos” located in the state of Sinaloa on the banks of the Fuerte River. El Fuerte is known for its fort, for which the city is named after. It’s also known as the birthplace of the legendary Zorro. You can visit both buildings – the fort is now a replica and a museum and Zorro’s childhood home is a hotel. Click the image or title to learn more about El Fuerte.

Copper Canyon by Train - Topolobampo, Mexico

Los Mochis (and Topolobampo)

Los Mochis itself isn’t a terribly exciting or picturesque city but it is a handy hub if you are arriving from or want to travel to Baja California, Guadalajara or elsewhere in Mexico. The close-by port of Topolobampo is a much better place to visit and tour around or catch a ferry to La Paz, Baja California Sur. Enjoy the beach, take a dip in the ocean, eat fantastic seafood or book a tour of the Farallón natural reserve.

Copper Canyon by Train – Buying Chepe Regional Economic Tickets

Economic tickets can only be purchased one day in advance or on the train.

To buy them in advance you’ll need to go directly to the ticket office at either the Chihuahua or Los Mochis stations. There are no ticket sales offices at any of the intermediate stops. Note that your tickets will not have an assigned car or seat; these will be determined upon boarding the train.

As these tickets can’t be purchased more than one day in advance, you’ll only be able to purchase one segment of your trip at a time. The next segment can be purchased on the train.

To buy your tickets on the train in Chihuahua or Los Mochis, join the queue at the entrance of the station. An attendant will ask you how many people are in your party and assign you a car number and seats. Once the journey begins, authorized personnel will charge you for the tickets (cash only).

If you purchased your tickets the day before then just show an attendant at the station and you’ll pass to the front of the line where you’ll be assigned a car and seat number.

To buy onward Economic tickets at the intermediate stops you will have to wait for the train to arrive. Once you’ve boarded you can purchase your tickets from an attendant. Just remember the Chepe Regional train doesn’t run every day.

Seats are usually available in the Economic class but in high season (July, August, Christmas and Easter week) you may run into difficulties. Economic is primarily for local commuters so if it’s full you won’t be able to board.

Copper Canyon by Train – Buying Chepe Regional Tourist and Express Tickets

Chepe Express (Tourist and Executive) and Regional Tourist tickets must be purchased in advance as these tickets are not sold on the train or at any intermediate stops along the Chepe route. You’ll also need to print your tickets.

During high season (July, August, Christmas and Easter week) it’s advisable to purchase your tickets at least 3 weeks in advance.

You can purchase your Chepe Express or Regional Tourist tickets by phone, email or by going to the station in either Los Mochis or Chihuahua if you’ll be there a few days before you plan to leave.

I’ve tried calling to book tickets on multiple occasions and no one has ever answered the phone but in theory you can book tickets by calling 011 52 614 439 7212, or +52 1 614 439 7212. If you’re in Mexico and calling from a local line use 01 (614) 439-7212.

If you don’t speak Spanish then email will be the easiest way to book your tickets but the process can take a few days.

To purchase your tickets via email follow these steps:

1. Send an email to [email protected] (and to be safe cc [email protected]) with the following information:

  • The full name(s) and age(s) of each passenger
  • Which class you’d like (Regional Tourist, Express Tourist or Executive)
  • The station where you’ll start your trip and the date
  • The station where you’ll end your trip and the date
  • Stops you will make in between and the dates

2. You’ll receive a confirmation email similar to the document here. It’s important to note that this email does NOT contain your tickets.

Double check that the information highlighted in GREEN is correct. This is your itinerary and names of passengers. You’ll need to show photo ID with matching names upon boarding the train.

The date highlighted in YELLOW is your payment deadline. If no payment is received by that date your reservation will be cancelled.

If you are already in Mexico or will be before the payment deadline you can pay at a Banamex Bank. In this case, you’ll need the information highlighted in BLUE.

If you want to pay by credit card (MasterCard or Visa only) you can respond to the email asking for a link to pay online.

…Bienvenido a bordo…
Su reservación está confirmada con la Clave CHXXXXX , pero su boleto será emitido hasta que realice su pago.

Tiene hasta el día 18-­11-­2017 para pagar y enviar su comprobante, de lo contrario su reservación se cancelará

Datos bancarios:

Monto a depositar: $5,729.99
Banco: Banamex
Cuenta: 55777­5
Sucursal: 870
A nombre de: Ferrocarril Mexicano S.A. de C.V.
Referencia: 333390
CLABE: 0021 8008 7005 5777 54

Detalles de la reservación 


Esta tarifa incluye solo el traslado en tren de pasajeros de 2 personas en el siguiente itinerario y máximo 2 piezas de equipaje por persona que no excedan los 25 kg. cada una. 
Consulta mas detalles sobre costos por equipaje extra en Términos y Condiciones

Itinerario:

Train Station Origin Station Destination
20-­11-­2017 CHIHUAHUA CREEL
22­-11­-2017 CREEL EL FUERTE

Nombres de los pasajeros:

Full Name                      Type Passenger
PASSENGER 1 NAME ADULT
PASSENGER 2 NAME ADULT

Al momento de abordar se le requerirá a cada uno de los pasajeros su identificación oficial con fotografía. Agradeceremos verifique bien sus datos personales como de viaje ya que cualquier cambio que solicite después de hacer su pago ocasionará un costo extra.

Importante:
 Recuerde que es muy importante enviar su comprobante de pago para que su reservación no sea cancelada, enviar a: [email protected]

3. Payment by credit card.

After requesting a link to pay online you should receive an email with a link (enlace) to start the payment process. Click the “enlace” and once again, double check that the information is correct.

If all looks good you can agree to the terms and conditions by checking the box at the bottom and clicking the button “Confirmo y deseo hacer el pago“. This will bring you to the payment page. You can use the image here as a reference when filling out this form.

copper canyon train ticket purchase page

Once your payment is received you’ll get another email, this time containing your tickets. You’ll need to print these before boarding El Chepe.

Additional Information

Best time to travel Copper Canyon by train

The best time to visit Copper Canyon by train is September-October just as the rainy season is winding down and the weather is still fairly warm. That said, the Copper Canyon can be enjoyed any time of year but it is worth noting that in April and May most of the rivers have dried up and waterfalls are often just trickling.

Bus Routes:

You can traverse the entire Copper Canyon route by bus if you want but it wouldn’t be terribly comfortable and you’d miss the stunning panoramas seen from El Chepe. Below are a few of the routes that might help save money or time without missing the most incredible views from the train.

  • Chihuahua – Creel: The scenery isn’t as beautiful as it is from El Chepe and it won’t be as comfortable or as fast but it will be cheaper and there are more departure times in both directions. You will have two bus options: Rápidos Cuauhtémoc or Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste.
  • Creel – Divisadero/Posada Barrancas: This is a short bus ride and you can even do a round-trip thereby staying in Creel rather than Barrancas or Divisadero. Autotransportes Turísticos del Noroeste is your best option with a station in the centre of Creel a few steps from the train station.
  • El Fuerte – Los Mochis: This stretch really isn’t worth doing by train. You won’t miss any scenery and you’ll save time and money travelling by bus. The bus leaves El Fuerte from the Municipal Market on Benito Juarez Avenue. There are no posted schedules but buses leave approximately every 30 minutes.

Attractions:

Most of the attractions at Barrancas Park (Divisadero Stop) close at 3:30 PM. By the time you’ve disembarked El Chepe, checked in to your hotel and made your way to the park you won’t have time to do any of the activities. Make sure you leave yourself an extra day here depending on what you want to do. Or spend an extra day in Creel and take the bus to Divisadero to enjoy the activities. That said, Barrancas Park is nearly deserted after 3:30 and you can walk through the ravines and lookout points and practically have the place to yourself. Be careful, many areas don’t have fences!

Best views:

You’ll want to be awake and alert for the stretch between Bahuichivo and Temoris. Although the entire Chepe ride is special, this portion is by far the best!

2018-05-20T04:44:35+00:00

One Comment

  1. P T July 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Wow! This was nice and thorough. I’ve been thinking about doing it for years. BTW I found you through Travel Blogger Buzz.

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