At the bottom of this blog post you will find an overview and description of the Copper Canyon and El Chepe train route.
Km’s Pedalled – 29 km’s to the ferry plus 30 km’s when I arrived in Los Mochis
Destination – El Chepe Train Station in Los Mochis
Some Notes – Staying with my host in La Paz really saved me a few dollars not needing to get a hotel in Los Mochis to get caught up on blog posts and photo editing.
With David Jajan my La Paz host
It was a bit of a race but I got a bunch of photos of some of the La Paz area before arriving at the ferry. I visited Kiosco del Malecón and Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz.
Along the Kiosco del Malecón
Catedral de Nuestra Señora de La Paz
On the way I also met an American cyclist living in La Paz who mentioned that different people had seen me biking down the Baja and asked if maybe we knew each other as he was an avid cyclist as if all cyclists know each other.
Including my sightseeing it was 29 km’s to the ferry terminal in Pichilingue. The ferry boarding process was pretty straight forward. This ferry is more of working ferry than a passenger ferry for sure. The ferry charge was $1,590 pesos ($80 USD) to Los Mochis (including a crappy premade meal). The ferry left the terminal between 2:30 and 3 pm. And actually arrives at Topolobampo.
From the ferry
I arrived and was disembarked by 11pm. They made it a little confusing to get out of the terminal but once out it was clear sailing. A nice wide shoulder and street lights all the way into Los Mochis was very helpful.
I was still able to get super getting into town at that hour and I arrived at the train station just after 1:30am. There were people and families sprawled all along the front of the train terminal waiting for tomorrows train. I am forced to lie on the ground. I don’t anticipate any sleep with all the chaos. A long day for sure.
El Chepe train station
You can read about my review of biking the California Baja Sur HERE.
If you ever visit Los Mochis, Los Mochis means “place of the turtles.” My researched suggested to visit the Benjamin Francis Botanical Gardens and the catholic church Sagrado Corazon de Jesus Church.
Km’s Pedalled – 19 km’s biked to Cerocahui
Destination Bahuichivo by El Chepe train and then I biked to Cerocahui and then I got a ride 9 km’s up a very steep mountain to a lodge to camp at.
Some Notes – I got absolutely no sleep last night. I spent the entire night (if you want to call it a night) swatting mosquitoes. I haven’t dealt with mosquitoes since Canada. And all night I could hear cars coming and going dropping people off for this morning’s train ride. When I finally decided to actually open my eyes and get off the ground the place was full of people. It was rather chaotic. It took forever to get a ticket and because of dismantling my bike trailer and bags from my bike I was the very last person on the train with only seconds to spare. The train was already moving before I sat down at 6am. What madness.
Views from the train
I am only going as far as Bahuichivo for $730 pesos as part of the first part of the Copper Canyon experience. The El Chepe Train website said no bikes but I had no issues.
The train ride began with passing through a residential area if it could be called that. A lot of very run down dilapidated homes. From there we passed some agricultural areas.
Views from the train
The train is not what I would necessarily call smooth. It does a lot of rocking and jerking back and forth. But maybe that’s what a train does.
I slept for a few hours. I had to I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Fortunately, the first part of the train ride is a very slow climb in elevation towards the canyons, so I didn’t miss much.
It’s so strange to see trees and clouds again. As the miles on the train start adding up mountains come into view and become closer and closer. And before you know it you are in the mountains following the/a river. Constantly going over bridges or through tunnels or following steep drop offs.
Views from the train
Eventually you are high enough in elevation that the pine trees and evergreen trees dominated the landscape.
I arrived at Bahuichivo at 2 pm. I assembled my bike and had to push it up a steep hill towards what I presumed was the downtown of seems like a pretty small town on top of a mountain side.
El Chepe train
Of course, there is no cell service and arriving by train and being in a town built on a mountain side/top with no map or sense of direction or how to speak the language is an interesting experience. But I guess I had better get used to it. The Francisco Javier Mission is here but I never did find it.
Cities and towns on the Baja were easy to navigate because they mainly had a single drag or were laid out like a typical city or town. Not here. And now that I think about it. I am not 100% sure when the next train comes.
A strange place for a cow to die?
A roadside descansos
It seems fairly pristine and lush in this part of the world except for the usual garbage along the road. It would also seem while lots of the world seems to be in some kind of drought but this part of the world is getting rain. I hear thunder and saw some lightning. I can’t believe how many birds are here.
Stealth camping is virtually impossible because they have done such a good job fencing the land right tight to the road.
Cerocahui Mission Church
I met Mario Munoz of Rancho San Isidro Lodge shortly after arriving in Cerocahui who stopped to ask me where I was going. I said I was looking for some lookout that was supposed to out this way. He laughed and said that it was way up a very very steep mountain quite a few miles away. Mario suggested and let me hitch a ride to his ranch to camp and so it would also be easier to get to Cerro del Gallego Lookout Point. (Cerocahui was founded by the Jesuit missionary Juan Maria de Salvatierra in 1680.)
It turned out to be a very wickedly steep and beautiful drive up the mountain. I am certain I would have never made it up the mountain on a fully loaded bike. So, I am so glad I ran into Mario and his lodge was located in a really beautiful location. He is letting me camp at his lodge for free but they have a restaurant that I have to pay for. But there is nothing else out here (restaurants) so once again I am very glad I ran into Mario.
If you ever visit, somewhere near Cerocahui is the Huicochi Waterfall which you need to hike to. I never did.
Copper Canyon & El Chepe
Barranca del Cobre or Copper Canyon, is a region in the northwest of Mexico that hosts some of the most spectacular and stunning natural scenery in Mexico’s inland territory.
The area known as Copper Canyon is actually a series of twenty canyons, formed over the years by six rivers. The area is sometimes compared to Arizona’s Grand Canyon, although the Copper Canyon region is at least seven times the size, and has different topography, flora and fauna to the Grand Canyon.
The Copper Canyon is in Mexico’s wilderness. The Tarahumara people, descendants of the Aztecs, still live a simple life in these canyons, as they have done for thousands of years.
The Copper Canyon railway is a stunning piece of engineering achievement. Opened in 1961 after decades of construction, the railway was designed to connect the Pacific Ocean with Mexico’s central desert territory and Chihuahua. The route continues to be a major freight connection between Chihuahua and the Pacific coast.
The railway line is over 390 miles (650 km) in length, crosses 39 bridges (the longest bridge is over 500 meters long) and 86 tunnels (the longest over 1,500 meters long).
The track starts at sea level at Los Mochis, and will rise to an altitude of around 8,000 ft (2,500 m) before descending into Chihuahua City which lies at around 2,500 ft (800 m) altitude. The line crosses some of Mexico’s most rugged terrain; hugging the edge of mountains and crossing deep ravines on its bridges.
Cycling the Baja of Mexico in review
Mexico Baja Part 7 (July 1 to 6)