El Chepe Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico
The train stops for passenger boarding and deboarding at the touristic stations of Cuauhtémoc, Creel, Divisadero, Posada Barrancas, Bahuichivo/Cerocahui, Témoris, El Fuerte y Los Mochis, making a 15 to 20 minutes stop at Divisadero to enjoy the Copper Canyon.
Every train has 2 o 3 passenger cars with 64 seats, dinning car with meals at la cart and bar. Food and beverages are not included in the ticket price. All the cars have air conditioning and heating system, indeclinable seats and ecological toilets.
Every car has its porter to provide service and attention to the passengers.
Smoking is prohibited.
Copper Canyon Train Tours
All Copper Canyon trips are on the historic Chihuahua al Pacifico Railroad “El CHEPE”. The train winds its way from the Pacific Ocean up to the heart of the canyon’s scenic splendor. built over a 90 years period, this world-famous railroad is an engineering masterpiece. It has been called” the most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere.”
Most tours travel the most exciting part of the railroad, from sea level at Los Mochis, Sinaloa, to the highest portion of the line at creel, Chihuahua. Here you are near the top of the Sierra Madre range at 8,000 feet elevation. railroad trips go all the way to Chihuahua City.
The CHEPE railroad made the canyons accessible for tourist to enter this area long inhabited by the reclusive Tarahumara Indians. These samall, shy natives are famed for their long distance running ability. Some 50,000 Raramuri (people of the swift running feet) – as they call themselves -live in caves and other primitive dwellings, much as their ancestors have for the last 400 years.
El Chepe Train Schedule
route departure route departure
Los Mochis 6:00 Chihuahua 6:00
El Fuerte 8:16 Cuauhtémoc 8:25
Témoris 11:20 San Juanito 10:45
Bahuichivo 12:20 Creel 11:20
Cuiteco 12:31 Pitorreal 12:09
San Rafael 13:25 Divisadero 13:04
Posada Barrancas 13:43 Posada Barrancas 13:11
Divisadero 14:22 San Rafael 13:37
Pitorreal 14:49 Cuiteco 14:15
Creel 15:44 Bahuichivo 14:28
San Juanito 16:20 Témoris 15:25
Cuauhtémoc 18:37 El Fuerte 18:23
Chihuahua 20:54 Los Mochis 20:22
History of El Chepe
The Chihuahua al Pacífico (Chepe) railroad is the only railroad that has been international in its vision since its inception. This engineering marvel took almost 90 years and 90 million dollars to complete. The Reader’s Digest has called it “the most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere.” The first Mexican train to traverse the complete route was in 1961. The route is through 5 climatic zones from sea level to 8,000 feet elevation.The original route of the Kansas City Mexico Orient Railway (forerunner of the Chepe) was 1600 miles long. It ran from Wichita, Kansas, through Oklahoma and Texas, crossing the border at Presidio, Texas and Ojinaga, Chihuahua. It continued on to Chihuahua City, then went west across the Sierra Madre Occidental Mountain Range, ending up at Topolobampo Bay on the Sea of Cortez, near Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The purpose of the KCMO Railway was to shorten the shipping route to the orient by 400 miles.
Since the Chepe was privatized in 1998, it is one of only two passenger trains left in Mexico – the other being the Tequila Express out of Guadalajara.
The Chepe tourist line presently is the 400 mile route between Chihuahua City, Chihuahua, and Los Mochis, Sinaloa. The Reader’s Digest calls it the “the most dramatic train ride in the western hemisphere.” To enjoy the most scenic part of this route during daylight hours, tours begin out of Los Mochis or El Fuerte.
The Chepe engineering challenges include 37 bridges and 89 tunnels on the route. At one point the train does a 180 degree turn inside the mountain, and at another point loops over itself. The longest tunnel in Mexico, over a mile long, is on this route. In the mountain region, there is a drop of 7300 feet elevation in 122 miles.
Two Americans were directly involved in the conception of this railroad. Arthur Stilwell of Kansas City, Kansas, was responsible for completing 1000 miles of the total 1600 miles of track built. (Note: My name is Sue Stilwell. We are in the family line of Arthur Stilwell, so this history is of great personal interest to me.) Albert Owens, a Pennsylvanian railroad engineer, surveyed the western end of the line.
In 1998, the private rail franchise – Ferromex – took over the railroad from the Mexican government. The government had operated all the railroads since 1940. Ferromex has made a significant investment in a total modernization program. A thorough renovation of the train stations has taken place in Los Mochis, El Fuerte, Bahuichivo (Cerocahui), Posada Barrancas, Creel, and the old train station with murals in Chihuahua City. The train track has been repaired and brought up to industry standards. This assures added security, comfort, and speed for the passenger trains. Twelve remodeled, air-conditioned Chepe passenger cars are on first-class express service. It is a pleasure to dine in the new dining cars freshly decorated with the same elegant upholstery and carpet of the passenger cars. An excellently equipped kitchen serves delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners daily. The deluxe lounge cars offer all varieties of drinks and a place for close camaraderie on the trip. Ferromex is to be commended for undertaking the extremely challenging task of offering first-class train service for tourists on this extraordinary, remote route. This places the railroad in a unique world class. Each spring, S & S Tours has a Rail Fan tour which travels the whole 400 miles by train between Los Mochis and Chihuahua City over a period of a week. We visit the sugar cane factory in Los Mochis to see their 1920s vintage steam engines. We have a privileged tour of the Chepe roundhouse in Chihuahua City. We often receive special permission to ride on the engine. This tour is particularly for rail fans, but the fabulous scenery and the Tarahumara Indians make the trip enjoyable for non-rail fans as well.