Riding The Pacific Railway Through Mexico’s Copper Canyon

December 17, 2013

I recently spent two weeks in the Copper Canyon area in northern Mexico. Relatively few travellers make it up there (most stay in the south), but if you do go there you will be rewarded with charming desert towns and epic mountain landscapes.

Pacific railway through Chihuahua state

The Copper Canyon is by some measures a bigger canyon system than the Grand Canyon in Arizona. A great way to see it is to take a day-long train from Los Mochis to Chihuaua (or the other way around).

Starting in Los Mochis before sunrise the train passes through flat desert landscape, but soon this changes into dramatic mountain scenery with deep canyons and large lakes.

PRO TIP: I played the soundtrack of Red Dead Redemption (Western themed video game) for part of the journey and the effect was incredible.

The Copper Canyon

You can get off the train for a while at Divisadero station and after a brief walk get an expansive and overwhelming vista. You can also do this as a daytrip from a nearby town such as Creel. Standing on the edge of the cliffs is definitely a little nerve-wracking.

On my way back I got a little lost in the nearby woods for a while but fortunately this friendly dog showed up who in 20 minutes led me straight to where my bus to Creel departed. I rewarded him with some biscuits.

Creel and Valley of the Monks

The mountain town of Creel is a great base for trekking and mountain biking. The nearby valleys have some amazing rock formations to see. It’s totally quiet in the valleys except for the sounds of hawks and … wolves? I thought I heard a wolf anyway, though quickly dismissed it as probably being just a dog. A little later on I saw a sign that confirmed wolves do roam the area. (Holy crap, I heard a wolf…!)

I visited in autumn which meant there were some beautiful yellow trees dotted around the landscape.

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13 comments

  1. daniel Lewis Reply August 25, 2016 at 10:46 pm

    Hi Marek

    In what months did you visit the Copper Canyon ?
    Cheers

    • Marek Reply August 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm

      I was there in October

  2. Daniel Reply July 27, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Hey mate, love the blog,will be using this on my trip around Mexico next month

    Quick question about catching the train, when you got the train and stopped off at the different locations, did you buy a ticket for each stop, or can you just buy a ticket from Los Mochis to Chihuahua and just hope off at Creel, stay the night and then hop back on the next day ?

    Cheers

    • Marek Reply July 27, 2016 at 11:04 am

      Hey Daniel. I took the train from Los Mochis to Creel, then got a bus from Creel to Chihuahua a few days later, as I’d heard this part of the train journey is somewhat less scenic (and the bus was faster). To be honest, I’m not sure how the validity of the train tickets work…

      • daniel Lewis Reply August 1, 2016 at 1:07 am

        Awesome, do you by chance remember what bus service you used ? i am struggling to find one online from Chihuahua to Creel, or did you just go to the main bus station in Chihuahua and by a ticket on the day ? Do they do the executive, 1st and 2nd class buses like the other companies in Mexico ?

        Thanks mate

        • Marek Reply August 13, 2016 at 11:57 am

          I purchased my ticket locally. There’s an office near the main square in Creel with regular bus services throughout the day. I can’t remember which classes they offered though, sorry! Tres Amigos is the main agency selling tours and activities in town and they have some bus info on their website.

  3. Che Reply January 12, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks for posting this, so useful! You’ve inspired me to check out Baja California and the Canyon. I’ve heard it’s better to travel from Los Mochies to Chihuaua, as the views are on the “right side” and as a solo traveller, is it quite challenging to travel around this area? I’m sure it’s rewarding as you have mentioned. 🙂

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply January 12, 2015 at 9:54 pm

      There might not be that many other travellers on this route so you may be bit more on your own. But the travel logistics are very straightforward. The train is easy enough to figure out and if you go to Creel (as many do), it’s fun and easy to explore the surrounding area on your own. There’s clear signs everywhere and you can pick up a little map in town. I was solo and rented a mountainbike at a tour agency, I think it was called Los Tres Hermanos.

      • Che Reply January 12, 2015 at 9:57 pm

        Creel definitely sounds interesting. Thanks for replying so promptly, I’m looking forward to my trip. Be great to meet that dog too, haha. Your site is proving very useful as I am traveling through central America, Cuba and South America and it’s so refreshing to read about your experiences of these places.

        • Marek Indietraveller Reply January 12, 2015 at 9:59 pm

          That’s awesome to hear! Good luck on your trip, and say hi Picchio the dog for me 🙂

  4. Kis Hajnalka Reply August 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    You tell me, Marek. 🙂
    Thanks for the wishes!

  5. Kis Hajnalka Reply August 17, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Certainly I can’t be sure, but the dog, which showed you the way to the bus seems just like the dog we called “Picchio”, who gave us company in Divisadero in the woods last year, when we did this trip the other way around (from Chihuahua to La Paz).
    We now prepare our tour to Cuba and we are really thankful to your suggestions (especially that about not being able to use debit cards).
    Happy travelling, Marek,

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply August 19, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Haha. That’s wonderful. I do hope that’s the same dog. I shall know him as Picchio from now on! Have a great time in Cuba

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