The Chihuahua-Pacific Railroad, also known as El-Chepe or the Copper Canyon train, is one of the most scenic and spectacular train journeys in the world. Starting in the high desert city of Chihuahua, it climbs to an elevation of 7900 feet in the Sierra Madre, skirts the top of the Copper Canyon, then drops into deep gorges before emerging in the cactus-studded Sonoran desert and finally ending at the turquoise Sea of Cortes.
On the journey, the train goes through 86 tunnels and over 37 bridges, passes assorted highland villages and ranches, and at the time of our visit in October 2015, through fields carpeted with wildflowers. The scenery is as diverse as it is majestic.
Below is a collection of photos, all taken from aboard the train, which I should say was very difficult to do. Landscapes normally don’t run away and hide like animals, or turn bashful when a camera is aimed at them like a human; landscapes are usually very still and cooperative.
However, shooting landscapes from a moving train is like guerrilla warfare photography. I’d see something cool but get blocked out by a stand of trees, or get jostled to the side by the lurching train, resulting in a blurry shot. When we’d pull up to something especially spectacular, the open air vestibule between the cars where I was shooting would suddenly become clogged with other photographers, who would throw elbows and shove their way to the opening.
In spite of all of this, I dutifully snapped photos so that you can enjoy the experience of riding the rails from the comfort of your home. You are welcome.
Click any photo to open a slideshow view
Have you been to the Copper Canyon?
What is the most spectacular train ride you’ve done?
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