Sunday, March 7, 2010

Copper Canyon Trains Pacific Coast Station, El Fuerte, Mexico

El Fuerte, Best Station for Copper Canyon

     Mazatlan is one of those mega resorts I was avoiding but I love the town and the friendly people so I wanted to visit.  I went through town to the beach for a few hours. Time was running short for me so I headed north and out at the northerly exit and headed for Los Mochis and more specifically to El Fuerte, a town with a train station on the Copper Canyon train line.
     El Fuerte is 50 miles inland from the Pacific Coast city of Los Mochis and the start of the CHEPE train line, a rail line that runs for 400 miles from the Pacific Coast through the Copper Canyon, and into the City of Chihuahua in North Central Mexico.
     For those who want the longest possible train ride on Mexico’s last regularly scheduled passenger train, Los Mochis is the place to start. The train leaves the station at 6 am and reaches the center of the Copper Canyon area at the village of Creel at between 4:00 and 4:30 in the afternoon. Creel offers lots of lodging options and tours to the various Copper Canyon Villages and sights. (See second class train and save)
For those who just want to reach the Canyon, the station at El Fuerte offers a better option. The train is scheduled to arrive at 8:55 am at El Fuerte. Good hotels in town and a great zocalo make El Fuerte interesting. The later leaving train makes it more convenient. The first 50 miles of track from Los Mochis to El Fuerte is through flat farmland offering little to see. East of El Fuerte the train starts into the mountains and the scenery gets interesting.
I parked for the night in the “camp ground” beside the station at El Fuerte and prepared for the morning train. The family charges 100 peso per night for parking and they lock the gate after the evening train arrives from Chihuahua about 7:30-9:30.  See Copper Canyon Train Schedule
From El Fuerte,  I crossed into Sonora on Route 15 which turned inland away form the coast and eventually reached Hermosillo and then Nogales about 2200 miles from my starting place in Oaxaca.
     The Nogales crossing is a difficult one. If I make this trip again, I will take Route 2 south of Nogales and make the border crossing at Agua Prieta.  I had arranged for mail to be sent to the Nogales, AZ, USA post office so I went through Nogales.  The line was a two hour wait.

Next Tucson to Chihuahua by Bus
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