Photo: Florian Sanktjohanser: The Train Chihuahua al Pacífico - Chepe - connects Los Mochis with Creel and traverses an impressive landscape along the way. The operator is Ferromex.
It is 8:00 a.m., on time El Chepe arrive into the train station of El Fuerte, a powerful diesel locomotive with yellow-green wagons. Chepe is the short form for Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacífico. The railway has been chauffeuring passengers from the metropolis of Chihuahua in northern Mexico down to the Pacific since 1961, and is still the fastest connection besides the plane.
The wagons will be renewed in two years and the Chepe will become a luxury train. You will be traveling in a comfortable train with wide and comfortable seats.
The train starts its journey in Los Mochis, at a leisurely pace, from the window you can see the corn and vegetable fields. Los Mochis is also known to be the most fertile region in the state. Wide streets, big shopping centers; the city is modern without old buildings. Just an hour and a half away is the city of El Fuerte, most tourists board the train in this beautiful colonial city.
As the train leaves El Fuerte, you will observe from your window the low jungle composed of thornbushes and some cactus. The train enters the Sierra Madre, after an hour the train crosses the “Agua Caliente” bridge, the longest of the 37 bridges on the route at 498.8 meters. It is followed by the tunnel “El Descanso” the longest tunnel (1.8 kilometers) and the Chinipas bridge the highest (103.6 meters). However, the landscape is much more impressive than all the technical information. To the right a green river flows between two canyons, above it, reddish-brown, corrugated rock walls shoot up from the forested slopes.
A 100 meter long freight train passes by and heads to the coast. This railway route was built to transport corn, grains and copper to the ports and export them. But a short time later, the wonderful views through which the train crosses attracted a lot of attention.
For the Engineers the most difficult part of this construction was station of Temoris. Here you will cross three differen levels with bridges and tunnels. The train rises in this section 800 meters and changes the climate zone.Instead of cactus, pines and oaks now grow on the slopes.
This is where the heart of the Copper Canyon is located and protected as a national park since 2010. A stop on the route is Bahuichivo from here you drive to Cerocahui, near to there is a fantastic view of the Urique Canyon, 1800 meters deep. Or you can get off at Posada Barrancas. There you will find three hotels that offer a great view of the canyon. From the balcony you can see tourists on the zip lines flying over the Copper Canyon Adventure Park.
With the film “Born to Run”, which talks about the traditions of the Tarahumara indigenous people; the Copper Canyon and the Chepe train gained greater popularity as it became a “Bestseller”. With the book “Burn to Run” the Raramuri people became more famous because it tells about their life and resistance in running long distances between the canyons. Most of them live still in the Canyons.
If you want to see Tarahumara people more closely, you should leave the train route behind and visit the Valley of Mushrooms or the Mission of San Ignacio in Creel, where you will hear stories about the Easter celebrations. Or pack your backpack and venture into the deep ravines, on foot like the Tarahumara.