The Copper Canyon in Mexico is one of the highlights of northern Mexico. Nevertheless, it is not very well known. It stretches from the province Sinaloa all the way to the Chihuahua province, close to the boarder with the United States. It is in fact the biggest mountain range in the world, making The Copper Canyon a lot bigger than it’s brother the Grand Canyon. Rolling hills, high mountains covered in green, little mountain villages and you can see it all! This is because the cool thing is that you can take a train to check out the beautiful views.
Hot El Fuerte
This is what our little travel group did. My boyfriend, my mom and myself embarked on a great trip from La Paz in Baja California to go see this beautiful canyon range. We took a ferry to cross the small stretch of the Gulf of California to get to the Sinaloa province on the other side. We traveled a short while to the sizzling hot town El Fuerte (42 degrees Celcius!) to board the train. The train itself is already a great experience. It is the only train in Mexico that still runs and it is this great looking, black and red monster with a nice fancy 50’s feeling to it. I don’t know if it is actually from the fiftees, but that’s what it felt like to me anyway. The train even has his own name: El Chepe. This is known throughout Mexico and every Mexican I told about our plan to take a ride with El Chepe started smiling as soon as we mentioned it. It is a very popular destination for Mexicans. Everybody loves it. And for a good reason!
You ride El Chepe all the way from Los Mochis to Chihuahua City. This alone is a journey of a full day. There are a lot of nice places along the road you can get out and stay a night or two. For adventurers and hiking-lovers this is the ultimate vacation spot! We chose to go from El Fuerte to Creel. This is a six hour journey and the main miradors are in between these to towns.
As soon as you leave El Fuerte you enter beautiful green hills. A nice rolling river runs alongside the train tracks. These tracks are a high standing engineering project with some of the highest and longest bridges in Mexico. They also constructed some really long tunnels, which, for the time it was built, is a big accomplishment. The feeling of riding in this train is as if you’re transported back a few decennia ago. You can really feel the work the builders did in constructing this beautiful track. I had never embarked on a train like this and altogether it was a complete new experience. Steel-on-steel, fumes from the train and the wheels running the track all contribute to this great experience. As the journey continues, the landscape turns from nice rolling hills to steep cliffs and waterfalls rolling of the mountainsides. I was amazed by the beautiful views, amazing deep valleys and wonderful colors of the landscape. You can stand on the small platform in between the couches, where you can actually hang your head outside a window. It was permanently occupied by photographers and people enjoying the amazing landscpae, sniffing in the nice fresh air and enjoying the sunshine highlight the trees and waterfalls.
Mountain sports activities in the Copper Canyon region
There are a few stops along the way. More passengers get off to spend the night in one of the mountain towns. Here you can find al the cool mountain sports activities, such as zip lining, rock climbing and hiking. We made a stop in Creel for a few night. We stayed in ‘Hotel Temazcal’, run by an Argentinian/Mexican couple. They have an amazing space right next to a good hiking trail. And by request they host a real Temazcal experience. In Creel we went to the beautiful viewpoints called ‘La Barrancas del Cobre’, just a half hour ride from the town centre. You can see the awesome wide range this canyon has and beautiful colors accompanied this view. The train stops here too, but then you only have about 20 minutes to check out the view and take pictures. We chose to go back and enjoy it once again. We really recommend to make at least one stop along the way, because it is really worth it to enjoy this beautiful landscape for a little longer than just one day. From the first viewpoint it is only a short ride or walk to visit another viewpoint. We hired a taxi through our hotel in Creel and he took us to all the beautiful places. If you like a thrill, you can get on the longest zipline in the wold! For 2.something kilometers you’re hanging in a little seat, with the valley right beneath you. If you are afraid of heights (like my mom and boyfriend!) this is a great way to conquer your fears! Once you get to the other side of the valley, you take a short hike up the mountain and go back with the cable line. This is a very good way to enjoy the view if you don’t way to risk you life on the zipline.
Don’t skip the Copper Canyon when you visit Mexico
The Copper Canyon is a must see if you are planning to visit Mexico. It is close to Baja California, close to the Texas and New Mexico boarder and worth the drive from Mexico City. You can also you the trip backwards. You can fly to Chihuahua, board the train there and simple take the ride down to Creel, El Fuerte or Los Mochis. Certainly European travelers are a little hesitant to visit northers Mexico. All they hear is that Mexico is pretty dangerous and that you can get in trouble if you leave the Yucatan area. I spent almost half a year traveling Mexico so far, and I have never encountered violence, not even a fight! So I would definitely encourage everybody to check out the rest of Mexico and this beautiful canyon range.