Did you know that the Copper Canyon is roughly four times the size of the Grand Canyon? Over millions of years, nine main canyons form from volcanic and plate tectonic movement. Copper canyon spans over 25,000 square miles.
Ultimately, there are many sub-canyons within the Copper Canyon. Each offers a distinctive variety of wildlife, flora, and fauna. Ask us about exploring the vast land and canyons of Copper Canyon.
Semana Santa is a ten-day Easter festival where Catholicism meets Paganism. While the dates of the event change every year, it usually takes place in late March or April. This year the holiday spans from April 9-15th. For travelers, there is a lot to see from church mass to indigenous dance ceremonies.
Throughout the week, experience an interesting blend of historic and religious rites. In the villages, you can see Semana Santa traditions taking place. For example, the Mayo Indian dress up in costume and perform the deer dance, a symbolic dance of life. People also walk through the small towns with large crosses. Bazaars pop up in places like Cerocauhui, the closest town to Urique with games and community activities.
As the week concludes, Tarahumarans travel by foot and congregate in Urique for the final ceremonies of good versus evil.
It is an unforgettable experience of culture. Many are drunk on homemade corn
beer, or even peyote. Some of the men paint themselves with white spots all
over their body to represent the evil of this world, conflicting with the
creel is another portal to the Copper Canyon that is popular during Semana Santa.
This is one of the busiest times to visit the Copper Canyon, so planning early is crucial. As early as December, do reservations book quickly. It has been said that Mexico City, which is usually a bustling city is much less crowded during Semana Santa. A lot of families choose to visit the Copper Canyon during this mystical time.
If your looking for a unique travel experience and don’t mind sharing the vast canyons with other travelers, Seman Santa is a special event to experience. Some travelers book a week before, or after these dates to enjoy the canyons without the crowds.
This is a blog from a traveler who spent time in Copper Canyon during this holiday.
Kilometers guide in Copper Canyon
This is the kilometer guide to Copper Canyon from Chihuahua to Los Mochis. Learn about the train route and it’s rich history here.
267.5 km Chihuahua City, capital of Chihuahua.
elevation 4,600 ft.
About an hour away in the mountains where the some of the first battles in the Mexican revolution were fought.
You will then pass San Andres, where Pancho Villa was born.
303.3 km Palomas
319 km General Trias, formerly known as Santa Isabel de Tarahumaras was renamed in 1932 after the General that expelled the French soldiers in Mexico.
321.5 km Santa Isabel
345.7 km Tunnel #1 (400 ft. long)
346.3 km Tunnel #2 (367 ft. long)
349.2 km San Andres
359.7 km Bridge “Viaduco Aldena (330 ft. long)
381.1 km Anahuac, initially named Charco Largo.
382 Bustillos Lake ( on the right).
400 km Mennonite Country. They settled in this area in the early 1920’s .
400.5 km Cuacuhtemoc. Named after the last Aztec Emperor, a hub for the Mennonites.
420 km first Continental Divide
426 km Pedernales
451.1 km Lopez Mateos Station ( La Junta). This is about three hours from Chihuahua.
477 km Bridge “Rio San Pedro” (295 ft. long)
485.5 km Terrero
503 km Pichachic, founded by Jesuit Missionaries
513.5 km Ataros
522.6 km Trevino. Second Continental Divide
533 km San Juanito. The coldest Mexican town with an elevation of 8,000 ft.
555.8 km Tunnel #3 (982 ft long)
561.8 km Tunnel #4 is the second longest tunnel of 4,134 ft. It also crosses the Continental Divide for the third time.
564.1 km Creel, a center for the Tarahumarans.
583 km Los Ojitos is the highest point of the railroad with an elevation of 8,071 ft.
585km El Lazo. This area is known as “the loop” where the railway makes a complete circle.
602.3 km Pitorreal
621.6 km Divisadero. The train stops here for 15 minutes in each direction.
626 km Posada Barrancas Station
636.1 km San Rafael is used at times for a train crew change.
638.5 km Tunnel #17 La Laja (1,512 ft. long)
639.1 km La Laja bridge ( 695 ft.) It makes for a good picture from the left side.
656.8- 649 km lots of tunnels pass through here.
662.5 Cuiteco, established in 1684. You will see apple orchards here.
668.7 km Bahuchivo Station is a lumber town, known for the historic town of Cerrocahui and Urique Canyon.
692.6 Tunnel 38 Jesus Christ face
695.8- 662.6 km There are many bridges and tunnels between here ranging from 220- 1,102 ft.
701.1 km Tunnel # 43 ( 384 ft.)
701.3 km La Papa bridge
701.6 Tunnel #44 (479) ft.
701.7 km tunnel #45 (662) ft.
702 km Tunnel #48
703.2 km Placa Conmeemorativa. The dedication spot of the Chihuahua al Pacifico on Nov. 24, 1961
704.7 km La Perra. Tunnel #49 (3,074 feet long) and shaped like a horse shoe.
707.6 km Temoris. 3,365 feet above sea level. From this point, you can see the development of the train line on three levels.
707.8 km Santa Barbara Bridge (714) ft. over the Rio Mina Plata
709.6 km Tunnel #50 (413 ft.)
710.4 km Tunnel # 51 (1,143 feet)
710.8 km Mina Plata Bridge (384 ft.)
711 km Tunnels 53-63
717 km Tunnels 64 and 65
719 km Banana tree waterfall
721.3 km Tunnels 66-70
722 km Julio Ornelas, where avacados, mangoes, and papayas grow
722.4 km Tunnels 71-78
728 km Tacuina. To the right, you can see a tree growing out of a rock.
736.5 km Santo Nino. Railroad camp with boxcars from WWII
739 km Tunnels 72-82
748.4 km Chinipas Bridge, the biggest bridge about 335 feet above the ground.
754.6 km Tunnels 86 this is the last and longest tunnel of 5, 980.97 feet long.
779.5 km Agua Caliente Bridge over the Rio Fuerte. This is the longest bridge of 1,637 feet long.
838.8 km El Fuerte Station, a “pueblo magico” town
882.7 km San Blas station. This station links to the line going to Nogales and Guadalajara.
920.6 km Los Mochis. In Mayo Indian language this means, place of the turtles. It was established as plantations for sugar.
I spent the last of my inheritance looking for God in my mid twenties and determined to find that elusive PROOF. It took me to Katmandu, Manchu Pico, the middle East, and became a Carlos Castenada enthusiast, who had written books about a Yaqui Shaman in the early 70″s, named Don Juan. I was graduating from film school at Trinity Uniersity and offered my first job in the film business. The job was to film the experience of going to the Copper Canyons in Mexico the home of Don Juan. We had the permission of the Mexican Governor of Chihuahua in a formal letter, but had to use our own money to produce the film. We started at Poncho Villas home, now a museum, in Chihuahua, and to my surprise was told that his wife, was still alive at 95.
She was wonderful and gave me full access to her for the film. The one bump in the road was when I asked her which wife she was as Villa used to get married a lot…like 28 times. Her answer was, “I am the only one, all the others were whores”. On the last day of filming her, she told me she needed to be paid. She only spoke Spanish to me up to that day. She wanted $500. I said, “Mrs. Villa, this is a travel film that will make you famous….and I have a letter from the Governor of Chihuahua that allows me to film you” And BOOM, she stopped me and in perfect English said “you want to make me famous?”
She then took out photo albums of her with Gary Cooper, John Wayne, John Ford, and the greatest movie stars of all time. She was belligerent and looked at me and said, “I am famous, you are nothing” and you will pay me or you will not leave Chihuahua alive. I believed her, and inasmuch as we were driving an Oldsmobile Tornado, which always had a crowd around it, we were very conspicuous.
We did not have $500. The day before I was getting my shoes shinned and this kid insisted on selling me a lottery ticket. It was right out out the the movie, Treasure of the Sierra Madres” and I won. We paid Mrs.Villa and hired a single engine plane to fly us over the canyons…..which are four times bigger that the Grand Crayon in AZ, It was a Piper Cub……it flew so slow that I was able to take my camera and lean out the window…..everything was perfect, and we were deep into the canyons, until the engine started to sputter and then stopped. The pilot said…..”bad gas”.
We crash landed on an 1000 foot tall atoll in the middle of the Copper Canyons. The plane stopped about ten feet from the abyss. It was late afternoon. As the sun set, it got cold. I had on Guci loafers with no socks, Levis, a Rolex watch, and a silk shirt with a gold chain. My producer and the pilot had nervous breakdowns and were yelling at each other in Spanish. I realised that we would eventualy die and nobody would ever know we were gone.
The sun set and there was only a sliver of a moon.
My angst went against what I saw in the distance. I thought I was a hallucinating. Out in the abyss, were runners with torches coming to us. It was 20 Yaqui indians with torches who went up the atoll like it was an escalator. They were very brave as we scared them. We were so happy to see them…..they did not speak Spanish.
It took a while but i eventually realised that our survival depended on these men who were not all that impressed with us….until I took a Polaroid picture of them. One by one they came to me and wanted me show them the plane up close….they were aggressive and scared. Then they left. It was sudden but as soon and they left, they came back and put their arms around me….and said in their language “you must meet out Father”.
We walked. Every night they made a fire and a camp…..it was six days before we arrived at their “village”. They had a lot of explaining to do to the Chief and his brother the medicine man Shaman. We spent the first night in the open but comfortable. They slaughtered a pig, and it was wonderful. Now I realised that we were deep in the canyons, and these people and just been discovered after WWII.
They did not like the Mexican pilot. They especially did not like my Mexican partner who was aggressive and uppity. I had connected with the the Shaman….and ask him to take me into his world. He understood immediately and took me to his Brother, the chief. He agreed and we went into a kinda of sauna….they gave me a drink in a plastic cup of which I drank completely down. It was mushrooms, peyote, and mescal. I realised that this was a test……
There is a point in hallucinogenic ingestion in which your body wants to eject the massive amounts of strychnine , BUT if you can keep it down, you become a GOD. You are the total of your WHOLE SELF. I have never felt more alive or wonderful…..Then I realised I was alone with the Cheif and his brother…..and they were uncomfortable….they had not seen anyone become such a seamless transition to power.
Then all the dogs in the camp, maybe 20, came to the entrance of the tent, and sat there looking at me, like it was time to go….I remembered that I had a vile of blow and laid out a few to the Shaman and his brother….they had never seen anything like it. So I laid out a third and did it in front of them to show them the way. Then I said, “I did yours, now you do mine”.
I was in my 20’s. In the best shape of my life……it was a full moon. I left the lodge, and started running. Into the night……the dogs followed. I can’t remember feeling better or more powerful…..the moon was full and the dogs all looked at me for guidance…..I climbed a rock and howled, the dogs howled with me for hours…..I woke up in the morning with all the dogs in my tent….these were not pets, these dogs were large and protected the Indians, but were not pets. They fought Mountain Lions, wolves and coyotes and had the scars to prove it.
The Alfa male was over 100 pounds. He never came into the village…..Mario, was shocked when after breakfast the alfa dog came over and curled up to me….and put his huge head on my leg and took a scratch.
Don Juan was a fictional character and the protagonist of numerous best sellers on the non fiction list of the New York Times. Tales of Power is my my personal favourite….but here are some quotes in which you can make up your own mind. Once you read his books, you will understand that The Copper Canyons are a path to conciousness.
“For me there is only the traveling on the paths that have a heart, on any path that may have a heart. There I travel, and the only worthwhile challenge for me is to traverse its full length. And there I travel – looking, looking, breathlessly.” ~The Teachings of Don Juan
“Power rests on the kind of knowledge that one holds. What is the sense of knowing things that are useless? They will not prepare us for our unavoidable encounter with the unknown.” ~The Teachings of Don Juan
“The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” ~Journey to Ixtlan
“A warrior must cultivate the feeling that he has everything needed for the extravagant journey that is his life. What counts for a warrior is being alive. Life in itself is sufficient, self-explanatory and complete.” ~Tales of Power/ Wheel of Time
The world of everyday life cannot ever be taken as something personal that has power over us, something that could make us, or destroy us, because man’s battlefield is not in his strife with the world around him. His battlefield is over the horizon, in an area which is unthinkable for an average man, the area where man ceases to be a man.” ~Author’s Commentary to 30th Anniversary Edition of The Teachings of don Juan
“The only alternative left for mankind…is discipline…But by discipline I don’t mean harsh routines. I don’t mean waking up every morning at five-thirty and throwing cold water on yourself until you’re blue. Sorcerers understand discipline as the capacity to face with serenity odds that are not included in our expectations. For them, discipline is an art: the art of facing infinity without flinching, not because they are strong and tough but because they are filled with awe.” ~The Active Side of Infinity
This is the most recent client review from a group traveling in March 2017.
“Thanks again for organizing a great trip! We had a fantastic time. Every detail of the trip was organized and executed faultlessly. Special thanks to Carla who rescheduled our taxi ride at 3am in the morning when the ferry arrived early in the morning our first day. The hotels, the tours, the food, the transfers were all executed seamlessly.
Highlights of the trip were San Isidro Lodge and the Temascal sweat lodge that we did, of course the magnificent scenery of Barrancas de Cobre, the zip line tour of the canyon, the hike to the Recowata Hot Springs, The Tarahumara lodge rooms at the top of the canyon were spectacular, the river tour of El Fuerte .. We saw 3 sets of Cara Cara Birds!, El Chepe Train, Creel sightseeing of the rock formations, the Cusarare Falls, Cave dwellings of the Tarahumara.. The list goes on.”
Thank you for the review! Vicky has just returned from her birthday adventure through Copper Canyon. She was the group leader for a party of six, and had an amazing time.
There were some last minute changes with the Baja very service, but we were prepared and got the taxi service to pick up at 3 am, three hours earlier than expected. Our clients were happy to have someone to contact to look over them through details like these.
Canyon Travel aims to be different than other companies in Copper Canyon. We strive to get the best deals, the preferred hotels, and to ensure that the itinerary is seen through the trip.
Who doesn’t like a little TLC?
This group chose a custom itinerary and traveled from La Paz BCS via ferry. They then, took the train all the way to Creel, Chihuahua and back to Los Mochis.
We create custom adventures to suit your dates, activity level, budget, hotel choice and food preferences. Contact us today to inquire about your next adventure. We appreciate all of our clients comments and reviews.
A look at Copper Canyon info
Copper Canyon is a world famous destination. It is known for its awe-inspiring scenery, wildlife, renowned train route, and native culture. The Copper Canyon’s name derives from the greenish/copper color of the canyon walls was formed between 30-40 million years ago. From the collapse of land, following a volcanic eruption, and seduction of the Farallon Plate. Six rivers carved the canyons that comprise the Copper Canyon. It is larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon. Not to mention, a train running through it!
The terrain varies from the high altitude Madrean Conifer Forest to sub-tropical forests in the valleys. Mexico’s second largest waterfall, Basaseachic Falls, is also located here in the Candemena Canyon. Copper Canyon has something to offer for every nature lover!
Getting Here- Copper Canyon info
There are many options available for planning your trip to the Copper Canyon.
Tours can begin in Cabo San Lucas, where you have the option to take a one hour flight on www.calafiaairlines.com You may take the ferry from Baja Sur’s capitol city, La Paz www.bajaferries.com to Los Mochis.
Transportation from Los Mochis to El Fuerte is available. El Fuerte is a prime location to start the tour. It is a Pueblo Magico, plus you will enjoy more time in the morning before the train arrives!
Trips are also available from Chihuahua, but more scenic from the Sea of Cortez.
The Train- Copper Canyon info
El Chepe is the Chihuahua- Pacific railway of Copper Canyon. It began production in 1900, but due to terrain and expenses was not completed until 1961. The train runs among majestic landscapes of the Sierra Tarahumara area. Much of this area features the rich history and folklore of the indigenous Tarahumara culture. El Chepe climbs a seven degree grade and 2,400 meters above sea level. Copper Canyon is approximately four times as large as the Grand Canyon. It runs daily from Los Mochis to Chihuahua through 37 bridges and 86 tunnels.
Have you seen our YouTube channel? We have videos of El Chepe train and diverse landscapes of Copper Canyon. Check us out today, or submit your Copper Canyon video for us to add to the channel.
Check out our videos of the Copper Canyon.
“All aboard el Chepe” videos
El Chepe train climbs a seven-degree grade, a mile high fro Los Mochis to Chihuahua. It passes small remote pueblos along the way, each one distinct in charm and environments. El Chepe passes over 37 bridges and through 86 tunnels. With the rivers, waterfalls, mountain peaks and mastered engineering, Nat Geo calls this the most dramatic train ride in the Northern Hemisphere.
“the loop near Creel, Chihuahua
Between Creel and Posada Barrancas is where the train turns 180 degrees into the mountain tunnel, an engineering feet.
Check out our recent client reviews of Copper Canyon.
“Meant to write sooner….we are still raving about the Copper Canyon trip you and Mike arranged for us. Everything about it worked perfectly….smooth operation you have going there and we loved every minute of our time both in Cabo and on the train trip.
We greatly appreciated your patience with our travel needs, and could not believe all the TLC you both lavished on us.
Thanks for making lasting memories!”
Best in the New Year, Fran and Bernie, Chicago
“JUST A SHORT NOTE TO LET YOU KNOW ARE EXPERIENCE WITH CANYON TRAVEL. SHARON AND I BOTH ENJOYED IT VERY MUCH. WE FOUND THE ARRANGEMENTS THAT YOU SET UP TO BE VERY TIMELY AND THE ACCOMODATIONS TO BE JUST WHAT WE HAD VISIONED. IF YOU WANT A TRUE EXPERIENCE OF MEXICO I THINK THIS IS IT! THE COPPER CANYON WAS A MORE WOW FACTOR THAN I HAD IMAGINED AND YOUR PLANNING WAS RIGHT ON ! THANKS AGAIN FOR ALL YOUR HARD WORK.”
JOHN & SHARON, SOUTH DAKOTA
Our experience was mostly good, great at times, with some exceptions.
Copper Canyon is unbelievably spectacular, the train was better than I expected, a classy, comfortable ride, and the track is an engineering marvel. Thanks for getting us seats on the canyon side for all legs!
Starting the trip on the day of our choice was awesome, a distinct difference from what I saw available from other companies.
Rio Vista is a gem, of location and service. Nacho is one delightful human being, so accommodating. We rolled in off the train and caught the last 3 innings of game 6 of the World Series, and because he knew how important it was to us, he brought dinner to our room. And then the next night, for the deciding game 7, we asked him if we could do that again and we’d go get it from him. And it was the best food of the trip. The man can cook. One of the best moles I’ve ever had, Felipe was also a pleasure, and wonderfully knowledgeable about birds, which we also love, and the raft trip was excellent.
The room at Mansion Tarahumara was w/o a doubt the best view we’ve ever had from a hotel. We looked for hours. Thanks for getting that for us!
The connections for rides at the stations were all excellent, so no wondering where we were going or how to get there. Thanks again!
Mario is a great guy, we liked him and he answered our every question and need, but the answers were often only one word, or a short phrase, occasionally a sentence or two. He volunteered little and was preoccupied with other business, mainly organizing a race right after we left. That’s cool, but we felt like afterthoughts much of the time. The canyon excursion, which just I took, was good, but a long ride under those circumstances. This, and the absence of much else in particular to do made 2 days at the ranch seem rather long, especially the hours between dinner and breakfast. We don’t mind decompressing from normal busyness, but it shouldn’t be by the absence of any other choice. Also, I don’t think I am in the minority of tourists who like good coffee early. I get up ~6, coffee was promised at 7, but wasn’t ready either morning until 7:45. Local customs are one thing, but if a business depends on tourism, it has to accommodate for the needs of its clients. The food at Rancho Ysidro was very ordinary.
All of this made 2 days in Creel too much also. We actually like settling into a place more than one night, rather than moving from place to place continually, but only if there’s enough attractive enough to support it. Creel doesn’t have it.
The food at Mansion Tarahumara was also very ordinary, though slightly better than the other places. I appreciate that all the food was included in the trip cost, and that this is how people seem to eat in northern Mexico, but gawd, no wonder so many of them look depressed.
I realize you guys did your best, so I’m not faulting you for the downsides, just reporting what we experienced. The area itself has limitations which you must deal with too, and our informed choices make us responsible for things too.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give our trip a 7.5.
Thank you for facilitating our exploration of a truly amazing part of the world. We enjoyed it!
Perfection is often boring, probably like the insulated experience many tour companies offer. Jan and I look at those large groups and say to one another, “Let’s go the other way!” No refund necessary. I’m a stickler for unadorned honesty, and so wanted to be clear, not only for you, to make any improvements you can, but for myself. The trip was totally worthwhile, we’re glad we picked Canyon Travel, and you guys are cool.
Check out our reviews of Canyon Travel. We greatly appreciate your feedback.
Testimonial for Copper Canyon Tours
My wife María de Lourdes, who was born in Chihuahua, and I have traveled all over Mexico for more than 40 years, visiting Mexico City, Puebla, Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Yucatán, etc. and think we know Mexico pretty well. Strangely enough, we had never visited Copper Canyon. We made up for lost time in November 2016 when we were extremely fortunate to come across the Canyon Travel website. Thanks to the guidance of Michael “Mondo” Mondini and Carla Brown, we thoroughly enjoyed our 8-day trip on the picturesque El Chepe railroad stretching from Chihuahua to Los Mochis on the Pacific coast. Along the way we visited Creel, Barrancas, Bahuichivo, Cerrocahui and El Fuerte and experienced the beauty and charm of Copper Canyon, whose size and magnificence makes the Grand Canyon pale in comparison. Beyond the spectacular scenery, we were privileged to learn about the culture of the Tarahumara, or the Raramuris, as they prefer to be called, whose impressive resilience in the face of conquest by the Spaniards and subsequent virtual enslavement remains evident in their dispersed settlements, proud customs and practice of self-sufficient agriculture. Mondo and Carla have established strong links with hotels and lodges such as the Mansión Tarahumara or the San Isidro ranch run by the Muñoz family, whose home-cooked meals rustic cabañas warmed by wood-burning stoves were a particular delight. At each stop along the way we were met by local indigenous guides such as Mario, Jesús and Felipe, whose knowledge of the people, historical petroglyphs, and of course the canyons themselves made the trip really something special. And of course there was the chance to experience the world’s longest zipline at Barrancas Adventure Park, which as especially “exciting” for us senior citizens! After our Copper Canyon adventure, we fly to Los Cabos for a few days, where we had dinner with Mondo and were regaled with stories of his amazing life. We are grateful to him and to Carla for their expertise and impeccable organization of the logistics and the handling of our bookings, transfers, meals and local tours; I have organized many study-abroad educational programs in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil for University of Miami students and know how challenging their work truly is. We enthusiastically recommend Canyon Tours to anyone wishing to experience one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders and the intriguing culture of the people who inhibit the region.
William C. Smith
Senior Professor of Political Science, University of Miami
Editor Emeritus, Latin American Politics and Society
Chihuahua to El Fuerte, November 16-23, 2016
“Scott and I really appreciated your ongoing contact before and during the trip. You did an excellent job!”
Julie and Scott, Portland, OR