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Riding the world's most scenic railroad: Copper Canyon, Mexico | Insight Guides Blog

Riding the world's most scenic railroad: Copper Canyon, Mexico

Riding on bridges over yawning chasms, viewing awesome scenery and age-old settlements - welcome aboard the Copper Canyon Railroad in Chihuahua, Mexico.
An eastbound Mexican passenger train winds its way up thr Copper Canyon, climbing 6500' in a matter of 150 miles
An eastbound Mexican passenger train winds its way up thr Copper Canyon, climbing 6500' in a matter of 150 miles

An eastbound Mexican passenger train winds its way up thr Copper Canyon, climbing 6500' in a matter of 150 miles. Photo: Shutterstock


Some of Mexico's most spectacular scenery is found in Chihuahua - the massive canyons and gorges in the Sierra Madre known as the Barranca del Cobre. It has taken millions of years for rivers and wind to mold what is actually a series of five interconnected canyons, covering 64,000 sq km (25,000 sq miles) of rugged land, that ranges from below sea level to more than 3046 metres (10,000ft) at its peak. Mexico's tallest waterfall, the 300-metre (1000ft) Cascada de Basaseachic is found here, as well as a variety of plant life and one of the world's most interesting indigenous tribes. It is a living museum of natural history - except for animals. Although you may see buzzards and bald eagles flying overhead, the majority of animal life has disappeared. 

Canyon copper, Chihuahua, Mexico. Photo: Shutterstock


The Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico, called "the world's most scenic railroad," hauls lumber and tourists through this spectacular setting. This extraordinary feat of engineering - 661 km (410 miles) in all - was begun in 1881 and not completed until 1961, at a total cost of more than US$100 million. It passes through 87 tunnels (one almost a mile long) and crosses 35 bridges. The train ride from Chihuahua to Los Mochis takes anywhere from 12 to 15 hours with short stops along the way to enjoy the splendid views - from alpine forests to dusty gorges studded with Tarahumara settlements and old mining towns. 

Key stops along the railroad include Creel, a delightful alpine-style town and the main hiking centre, and Divisadero, which provides the most dramatic overview of the canyon, and the Parque de Aventuras Barrancas del Cobre, an adventure park with ziplines over the canyons.  

Add a stay in Chihuahua or a trip on the world's most scenic railway to any of Insight Guides' trips to Mexico.