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Mexico> Northern Mexico> El Fuerte> Chihuahua al Pacifíco

Mexico - Northern Mexico

Chihuahua al Pacifíco

( Transportation / Trains & Ferries )

A Karen Brown Recommendation
El Fuerte

The Copper Canyon is so remote that for many years it was inaccessible to tourists. Only a few rugged individuals made their way by foot or on horseback to enjoy the spectacle of this masterpiece of nature. The situation changed dramatically in 1961 when the Chihuahua al Pacífico Railroad was completed, connecting the towns of Los Mochis (about 20 kilometers from the coast) on the west and Chihuahua on the east, a total distance of about 660 kilometers. You can take the train from either direction, but since the most beautiful part of the ride is that on the west side of the Continental Divide, we recommend making a round-trip journey from the west instead of going all the way to Chihuahua since the last part of the trip is a bit bland. Because the train leaves early in the morning, you will need to spend the night before your departure at your originating town. Many passengers board the train at Los Mochis, where the train originates. However, we suggest spending the night instead in the small Colonial town of El Fuerte, which offers several advantages: El Fuerte, founded in 1564 along the El Fuerte River by the conquistador Don Francis de Ibarra, is much more charming than Los Mochis; you can sleep in later since the train leaves Los Mochis at 6 am whereas it leaves El Fuerte at 7:40 am; and El Fuerte offers the Posada del Hidalgo (featured in our guide), which has far more old-world ambiance than anything in Los Mochis. The train, known as the Chihuahua al Pacifíco, is amazingly nice. Not lavish, but far better than we had expected. It is air-conditioned, the seats are comfortable, everything is neat and tidy, and there is a bathroom in each rail car. In addition, there is a cute bar on one of the cars where you can enjoy a drink, and a good restaurant with attentive service where you can get breakfast or lunch. The best views of the canyon are on the right side of the train but if you find that your seats are on the other side, you can often switch since the train is not usually full. At first the train travels through the rather arid lowlands before gradually beginning the ascent into the Sierra Madre Mountains, where it loops and turns its way up. As you climb ever higher through the pine forests, there are views of the canyon far below. The train bridges high ravines, traces surging rivers, climbs to 2400 meters, and tunnels through the mountains. Altogether, there are 86 tunnels, 37 bridges, and one 270-degree turn. The track runs mostly through the forests rather than hugging the rim of the canyon, but stay alert since stunning canyon views frequently pop unexpectedly into view. However, the very finest views await at the hotel where you will be spending the night.  

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