Despite its status as merely a train, the Copper Canyon Railway or Chepe as it’s often called in Spanish, is a destination all by itself. Initially planned in the 1800’s to link Kansas City to Mexico’s pacific coast, it was finally finished in 1961 and only goes as far north as Chihuahua, Chihuahua, Mexico. The railroad has 37 bridges and 86 tunnels and because it never exceeds a 2.5% grade actually completes a 360º loop over itself as it makes its way down from The Sierra Madres and into Creel.[ad#final-review-ad]
The train ride, while comfortable, is long and slow. Much of the scenery at the beginning is of the desert and is consequently similar to many other parts of Mexico. While the scenery did improve as we moved into alpine forest, this traveler did not feel that the scenery was worth taking the trip on its own. If taking the train be sure to plan to get off in Creel, Divisadero, or another stop along the way so that you can actually enjoy the land rather than just viewing it.
The second class train is a far greater value than the first class train as it is nearly half the price and the only difference is the food options available on board. The first class train has a full restaurant while the second class has only a snack bar. Regardless of the train chosen, be sure to ask for seats – at the ticket office – on the right side (facing south) of the train as most of the journey features only a rock wall on the left side. Additionally, if taking the second class train be sure to pack some food for the trip. Lastly, the terrain from Creel to Chihuahua is nothing special and buses serve this route many times a day for a much lower price, be sure to check out this option of stopping in or near Creel.