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If you’re here it’s likely that you’ve already researched or read about Copper Canyon or Barrancas del Cobre; a series of six canyons in Northwestern Mexico.
You’ve also probably decided you want to take one of the world’s greatest train journeys on the Copper Canyon Railway (Ferrocarril de Barrancas del Cobre) or ‘El Chepe’ as it’s known and are ready to book your El Chepe train tickets.
El Chepe Train Ticket Booking Challenges
If you’re anything like we were, you’ve got as far as planning your trip and have now hit the stumbling block of working out how to book El Chepe train tickets and working out what the El Chepe train costs.
Despite considering ourselves well-travelled and always managing our own logistics we found this a real challenge. There’s information out there, but not much, and what there is seems to give conflicting advice.
After lots of faffing about, I eventually figured it out and got everything confirmed with just a few days to spare. So to help you out and make your life easier we’ve decided to share how to book El Chepe train tickets.
It is possible and easy, to book El Chepe train tickets through an agency. In fact, you could arrange an entire Copper Canyon tour via an agency but this approach tends to come with a hefty price tag.
We always try to keep our costs down and book all our own travel so I’ve based this post on that. Here’s how to independently book El Chepe train tickets for the Copper Canyon:
Copper Canyon Trip Decisions
Before you can even think about actually booking your El Chepe train tickets there are three key decisions to make. Most of this information is on the El Chepe website but I’ve picked out the most important bits:
1. Direction of Travel
The direction in which you want to take the Copper Canyon train – Los Mochis to Chihuahua or Chihuahua to Los Mochis will depend on where your prior and onwards destinations are and the associated costs.
We were in Merida before the Copper Canyon and had plans to meet a friend in Guadalajara afterwards. This meant either direction would have worked for us, as we needed to take a flight or long bus journey at either end regardless.
We opted for Chihuahua to Los Mochis because the flights worked out cheaper.
Which stations you want to stop at, on which dates and for how long may influence which class train(s) you get. Your itinerary may also depend on what activities you want to do along the way. There are LOTS to choose from: half, full and multi-day hikes to waterfalls and into the canyon, horse-riding, mountain biking, and various sightseeing tours. The list goes on!
Which accommodation you want to stay at in the Copper Canyon may also have an impact on your plans. Although most of the year you’re likely to be able to find somewhere to stay as you go, if you have your heart set on a particular hotel, it would be best to book it in advance.
3. Class of Train
There are two classes of El Chepe train – Chepe Express and Chepe Regional. The main differences are the days of service, the stations they service, and of course the price and how you can book and buy tickets.
There’s also a slight difference in the onboard facilities.
El Chepe Express
Duration – takes 9 hours.
Schedule – leaves from Creel at 7.30 am on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday arriving in Los Mochis at 5:10 pm. In the other direction, it leaves from Los Mochis on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 1:00 pm, arriving in Creel at 10:40 pm.
Please note that unlike Chepe Regional this train DOES NOT depart from or travel to Chihuahua.
Price – the entire journey for tourists costs 2,200 pesos (£92) or 3,100 pesos return (£129).
There are also other classes available: ‘Executive’ or ‘Business’ which is 2,700 pesos (£112) or 3,800 (£159) return and ‘First Class’ which is 3,600 pesos (£150) or 5,200 pesos (£216) return
Permitted stops – you may stop at all stations on the route during your journey (for a minimum of one night). Therefore, if you want to take Chepe Express for the entire journey it’s very easy to plan your itinerary.
It is also possible to book and pay for individual legs should you want to combine with some stretches on Chepe Regional or by bus, colectivo or car.
Onboard facilities – Ulrike dining room, bar and terrace.
You ARE NOT permitted to take your own food on this train, although it’s up to you if you want to risk it. We didn’t see anyone else with their own food on this train.
When to book – MUST be booked in ADVANCE, you can’t buy tickets on the day at any stations or on the train.
That’s the official line anyway, however, if you’ve had a different experience please let us know.
El Chepe Regional (Turista and Economica)
Duration – takes 16 hours.
Schedule – leaves from Chihuahua on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 6 am, arriving into Los Mochis at 9:30 pm. In the other direction it leaves from Los Mochis on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday at 6 am arriving into Chihuahua at 9:34 pm.
Price – the entire journey for tourists in ‘Turista’ class costs 3,604 pesos (£150).
There is another class ‘Economica’ or ‘Economy’ which costs 1,891 pesos (£77) This is mainly used by locals but I believe tourists can use it too.
Permitted stops – you may stop at three stations (including your final station) during your journey (for a minimum of one night) at no additional cost. The train actually stops at another 13 stations between the start and end stations so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Most people stop at least at Creel because it’s at the start (or end) of the most scenic stretch of the canyon and at Divisadero/ Posada Barrancas for the best views.
Again it’s possible to buy El Chepe train tickets for individual legs, should you want to combine with some stretches on Chepe Express or by bus or car, or if you want to stop at more stations than allowed in the main ticket.
Onboard facilities – Dining room.
Again you ARE NOT permitted to take your own food on this train. However, I did see several people with their own food and there are vendors at some of the stations you pass through so it’s up to you if you want to risk taking or buying food outside of the onboard dining room.
When to book – Turista class CAN ONLY be booked in advance or on the day from the ticket counter at either Chihuahua or Los Mochis station (in advance is recommended for tourists).
Economica class CAN ONLY be purchased from the conductor ON the train. We can personally vouch for this as we had to do this to get from our starting point of Creel to Posada Barrancas.
Here’s Andy’s El Chepe video from this part of the journey.
On the El Chepe website, you can find more information on schedules and prices on Chepe Express and Chepe Regional. Be sure to double-check the schedule yourself before booking because the times and prices are not set in stone and could change. It would be great if you could let me know if you do find them to be different so I can update this post.
Which class you choose will depend mainly on your budget, itinerary and flexibility. You may decide like us, that you want to take a combination of classes to cut costs or because of the days you want to travel and where you want to stop.
Ideally, we wanted to use Chepe Regional for the entire trip as it’s cheaper and has many more stations you can choose to stop at. This didn’t work with our itinerary so we decided to book Chepe Regional from Creel to Divisadero/ Posada Barrancas and then Chepe Express for the most scenic stretch from Posada Barrancas to El Fuerte.
Don’t forget there’s also the option to travel by bus or colectivo. These tend to be slightly quicker and much cheaper than the train but doesn’t strictly follow the railway.
We took the bus for the first stretch from Chihuahua to Creel and colectivo for the final stretch from El Fuerte to Los Mochis. We’d read these sections weren’t very scenic so saving some cash won over on taking the train for these.
Car travel is also a possibility but be sure to research thoroughly, especially the safety aspect of your road trip.
Booking El Chepe Train Tickets
Once you’ve considered all the information and made your key decisions it’s finally time to book your El Chepe train tickets. Here’s where the fun starts. Despite a redesign in April 2018, the El Chepe website still doesn’t offer online booking or clear instructions on how to book each class of Copper Canyon train ticket.
Upon seeing the ‘Contact Us’ form on the website you’d be forgiven for thinking booking would be as straightforward as sending them a message and waiting for a reply.
Think again, I tried this and what followed was a very frustrating couple of weeks. There were multiple unanswered contact form messages and multiple unanswered phone calls; in itself a daunting prospect for someone with limited Spanish.
Just as we were about to admit defeat and make the risky decision to just turn up at the Copper Canyon and hope we could buy tickets there (even riskier as we’d be travelling during Semana Santa), someone finally answered. It’s at this point the booking process became much more straightforward and is what I’ll share next.
|Reminder: The below is based on booking Chepe Express or Chepe Regional Turista tickets, as these as are the only classes that can be booked in advance. |
For Chepe Regional Economica you’ll either need to get yourself to Chihuahua or Los Mochis before your trip to buy tickets in advance or on the day at the station ticket counter OR you can buy tickets from the conductor on the train at intermediate stations.
How To Book Chepe Express Train Tickets
Based on our own experiences I’ve put together a simple step-by-step process for booking Chepe Express train tickets. This should help you avoid all the hassle, confusion and frustration we first had to go through first.
1. Don’t use the contact form on the website
Just don’t…you’ll be wasting your time.
2. Don’t phone the number on the website
Well, you can, but be prepared for no-one to answer for ages and when they do they’ll just give you the email addresses I’m about to share with you in step 3. So you may as well not bother…especially with limited or no Spanish as you’ll struggle.
3. Email booking enquiry to El Chepe
When I finally spoke to someone on the phone they told me I could send an email with my booking enquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I did this and received a reply within a day from firstname.lastname@example.org; so I would suggest emailing them in the first instance.
4. Email conversation with El Chepe reservations
You’ll probably need email backwards and forwards a few times with the El Chepe reservations representative to finalise the details of your booking. Making your requirements as clear as possible should make the whole process quicker.
The information asked for is:
- Full name and age of each person travelling
- Itinerary showing clearly where and when you’ll start and finish each leg of your journey
- Preference of which side of the train to sit on. For the best views, I’d recommend sitting on the left if travelling from Creel and the right if travelling from Los Mochis
5. Receive reservation and payment request
Once you and the El Chepe reservations representative are clear on your booking requirements they should send you an email confirming your booking reservation quite quickly. It will also include bank details for you to make a transfer of the payment to.
If you can’t make an international transfer from your bank (or it will cost too much in fees), email back and ask them to email you a credit/ debit card payment link so you can make the payment online.
6. Make the payment and email proof of payment
Make the payment via whatever method you agree on, and email proof of payment over to El Chepe reservations.
7. Receive your Express El Chepe Train tickets
You’ll receive your Chepe Express tickets by email soon after El Chepe reservations have received your proof of payment.
8. Print your tickets and keep them safe
Once you’ve received your Chepe Express tickets, you’ll need to find somewhere to print them. After that, it’s just a matter of keeping them safe as you’ll need them to board the train. Ours went straight in my travel money belt where I keep all my travel documents, although I’ll admit I don’t often actually wear it. You won’t be permitted to travel without them. I’d recommend printing a couple of copies.
|Recommendation: If you’re hoping to travel by Chepe Regional during a public holiday like we did for Semana Santa, you may wish to reconsider and pay the extra to book Chepe Express in advance. |
It’s likely to be very busy and with Chepe Regional there’s a risk there may not be enough room on the train(s) you want to travel on.
We struggled to get on our train from Creel to Divisadero and it wasn’t much fun being pushed and shoved in amongst the crowd of locals also trying to get seats.
That’s it, you should now have all the information you need to make the process of booking Express El Chepe train tickets as painless as possible; plus some useful information on Chepe Regional, if that’s your preferred option).
Now you can concentrate on finalising your accommodation and activities and enjoying your trip!
One final top tip is don’t forget your camera to photograph and video the most incredible, epic landscape. This really was our only regret, that we didn’t have a decent camera with us.
For ideas on what to see and do in the Copper Canyon have a look at our 5 day Copper Canyon train ride itinerary and for more information, you can also read more about Copper Canyon here this series of six canyons in Northwestern Mexico.
Have you travelled through the Copper Canyon by El Chepe train recently? If so, have I missed anything from our process to book El Chepe train tickets?
Travel Resources for Mexico
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● TRAVEL INSURANCE IS AN IMPORTANT CONSIDERATION FOR TRAVEL. If you’re travelling long-term like us and from the EU, then True Traveller is our go-to option.
If you’re from a non-EU country, another option for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month-by-month basis. This is also good for shorter trips.
● Find amazing flight deals to Mexico on Skyscanner and Kayak.
● Compare Rental car prices in Mexico on Rentalcars.com.
● Booking.com usually have the best hotel prices in Mexico.
● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation in Mexico is Vrbo.
● Before booking accommodation in Mexico, check reviews on Tripadvisor.
● Discover fantastic trips and activities in Mexico with Viator and GetYourGuide.
● G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer group holidays and tours to Mexico.
This Post Has 48 Comments
I have made my reservation and we leave Sunday 3/12/2023. 2 adults and 2 children from Creel to Los Mochis, we are returning by Chepe Regional. My question, anyone have suggestions on best option to get from Cd. Juarez, CHIH to Creel, CHIH? Also recommendations for hotel in Creel and transportation in Creel from hotel to train station?
I will return with updates and review when we return.
Sounds like you have an exciting trip planned.
Have you read this post:
I think it should answer your questions.
If not please do let us know!
You will have a fantastic trip I’m sure 🙂
Which airport is closest to each end of the train routes and how would you recommend getting to and from the airport to the train stations?
Chihuahua airport is closest to Creel and Los Mochis at the other end has it’s own airport.
This and much more is detailed in this post https://www.cantravelwilltravel.com/5-day-copper-canyon-train-ride-itinerary-mexico/
If you go, I hope you have a great trip.
Thank you for the names of the nearby airports. How do you recommend getting to and from the train stations to the airport?
Hi; I would recommend getting a taxi. That is how we did it. 😀
Thanks for all the helpful information. I went in 2006 on the whole route, and now I’ve decided I think I want to go back in six weeks December 2022. Do you think that’s enough time to book? As of now is online booking functional on their website? I think I would want meals on the train so that would be tourist class I think, at least for the return trip to los mochis, is that still necessary to book online? Thanks again, Dan
Exciting for you, I expect it will have changed a bit since then. I’m not 100% sure if it’s enough time, but I expect so. I’m honestly not sure about booking via the website – it wasn’t when this post was last updated and currently the website is completely down. So, probably best to follow the steps in my post – but keep checking the website to see if it goes back online.
I hope you’re trip goes well – please do report back if anything is out of date in my post as I’d love to be able to update it.
I bought a plane ticket to Los Mochis today for January! I’m goung to follow your instructions on making a reservation with the El Chepe. I’m going to start in Los Mochis, stop in 3 towns on the way to Creel for 2 days each, and then go back to Los Mochis on the Express train non-stop. I’m wondering if I should I just take the second class train on the way up to Creel since it will be in shorter segments — since the only reason in my mind for 1st class would be the meals on a longer trip? On my trip in 2006 I spent most of the time standing in the vestibules, looking/hanging out the window! not sitting, and I don’t mind if it’s a little rougher or not as clean, etc. What would be your opinion? Thanks, Dan
That sounds great. Personally, I think I would do the 2nd class train one way on the shorter segments as it will be more ‘real’ (not to mention cheaper)!
Please let us know how you get on with second class and if it was easy to just get on it at each station.
I hope you have a great journey 🙂
Here’s an update: I emailed El Chepe, they responded immediately with Timetables for the Express and the Regional. So after mapping out my plans, I made my reservation for for an Express from Los Mochis on Jan. 16,2023 and they responded immediately with a confirmation, and a link to the website to pay by credit card. Then I will be able to take the Regional from Creel to Los Mochis and stop every 2 or three days along the way. The current schedule is as follows:
Express Los Mochis to Creel: Monday-Wednesday-Friday 8:00am (only Mon&Fri in low season)
Express Creel to Los Mochis: Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday 8:00am
Regional Los Mochis-Chihuahuia Thursday&Sunday 6:00am
Regional Chihuahuia-Los Mochis Wednesday&Saturday 6:00am
They will email you actual timetables of both pretty quickly. They didn’t give me any fares for the regional, but I’m sure they are good.
This is great – thankyou for the update. It sounds as if it was easier for you booking than when we went.
I hope you have an amazing trip.
Hi Dan & Tanya,
Thanks for this. Seriously useful as i’ve such a hard time trying to find info for the schedule and how to book the ticket. I’ll be heading there in april 2023. seems like a long way away but i’m excited. If there’s any more tips you can share, i’ll be very grateful if you can send them along.
I’m glad you fond it helpful. I hope you get to do your trip next year and have a great time.
Please do let us know how it goes
Thank you so much for this info. Planning on going December of this year. I’ll keep you updated on how my booking process went!!
No worries at all. I hope you have a great time and yes, please do let us know how you get on 😀
Juste pour te remercier comme beaucoup pour toutes tes explications qui m’ont été bien utiles et mon fait gagner je pense beaucoup de temps pour réserver mon trajet.
Nous avons fait le choix d’un El fuerte à Posada en Turista sur le regional et de Posada à Creel en économica pour réduire les coûts. Nous n’aurons pas la chance de découvrir l’express qui a l’air super beau :). Malheureusement, les horaires de train ont changé depuis ton article et si on prenait l’express on ne restait que 24h à Posada.
Just to thank you as much for all your explanations which were very useful to me and I think I save a lot of time to book my trip.
We have chosen an El fuerte in Posada en Turista on the regional and Posada in Creel in economica to reduce costs. We will not have the chance to discover the express which looks super beautiful :). Unfortunately, the train schedules have changed since your article and if we took the express we only stayed 24 hours in Posada.
I’m glad you found my post useful. Thank you for letting me know about the schedule change too, I do recommend readers double check the schedules
on the website before booking as they are subject to change.
I hope you have an amazing trip in the Copper Canyon.
Hi, thank you so much for all your info, this will help us no end as we are just about to book our flights, Sue and Dave Paxton x
Glad you found it helpful, have a great trip 😀
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Thanks for viewing my post – have you watched documentary on channel 5 in the UK today about the El Chepe and the Copper Canyon?
Someone tell me what the documentary was like and all about – because we’re currently stuck in Cambodia and couldn’t watch it.
Any questions feel free to drop me a comment…
Hi,it was a brill programme, just looking into it myself. John f.
I shall have to try and watch it somehow – any questions feel free to drop me a message.
It is on channel 5 on demand at the moment Worlds most scenic railway journeys
Thanks – I’ll see if I can find it 😀
It’s not helpful at all, you don’t have to buy tickets in advance or online. You can just buy the tickets in the train. Trains from Creel are leaving Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. Just walk into the station, you can see what time they leave, step in the train and buy a ticket!
Thanks for your message, it’s hard to keep track on changes to schedules and prices so I appreciate it when a reader let’s me know of a change I may not have heard about and I actually request this in my post 😀
In this instance, I was actually in the process of reviewing my post following clarification from El Chepe on their new schedule and prices following updates on January 11th 2020, but thank you for flagging this for me anyway.
The post has now beeen updated with the revised schedule and prices.
You are also correct that you don’t HAVE to buy tickets online, Chepe Regional Economica (used mainly by locals and commuters) can be purchased on the day at Creel.
However, Chepe Regional Tourista and Chepe Express tickets still need to be purchased in advance online – this has been confirmed to me by my contacts at El Chepe.
All of this was already stated in the post, but thanks for checking.
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Thanks for the in depth info on how to book. Do you have any recommendations for stops? We are going to get the regional train so will need to book places to stay depending on where is good? You’ve mentioned creel so that will be one of our stops.
Thanks for your advice in advance,
Yes I do in my 5-day Copper Canyon itinerary post. The link is https://www.cantravelwilltravel.com/5-day-copper-canyon-train-ride-itinerary-mexico/
I hope you have a fantastic trip
Your train schedule section is grossly in error. The Express leaves Los Mochis at 0730, and the return to Los Mochis that stops in Creel also departs from there at 0730. This is definite, correct information as I just booked our passage via chat on the company’s web site for our trip in two weeks. The cost is $8,400 MX / pp for “Executive Class” service.
Your misinformation caused me to panic as i had made a Creel hotel reservation months ago based on the RR site’s schedule but bumped into your page as I looked to secure train tickets. Your posted schedule has times that not only prohibited our train trip but have corollary impacts on two non-refundable nights in Los Mochis that are bookends to our overnight train trip. As we say in Mexico, “muy pobre!”
I’m extremely sorry you found incorrect information on my site. At the time of the last update of this post the information was 100% correct – having
checked it appears the schedule was recently updated and I wasn’t aware. Thanks for flagging this error for me, I have now updated the post with the correct times.
With regards to the cost of the ticket – my post was showing the correct price – however it was for a single journey, it seems the price you paid was a return. I have now updated the post to show both prices.
I’m sorry if the incorrect old information caused you any problems, however, I do have links throughout the post to the schedule and prices so readers can check for themselves before booking. I’ve added a note to the post recommending people do so.
Thanks again for your message enabling me to update the post with the most recent information.
Your how to book guide was very helpful and worked like a dream. They responded in 24 hours, and there was several days of emails as train schedules didn’t quite fit my9 other programme.
A couple of updates:
1. THE CHEPE express goes from creel on Tuesday Friday and Sunday only and back the other days. No trains run on Wednesday. I don’t know if expess will run daily in high season but as I travel in the first week of July I though that would be high season.
2. I was only given the card option to pay. The site is a secure one and when I paid electronic tickets arrived immediately
3. All emails arrived in my inbox except the ones with attachments which went to spam. They did chase to say had I received the booking offer, at which point I checked spam
Hi Barbara, so glad to here it worked o.k. for you. Thanks for the updates too.
I remember we were originally only given the card option but asked for another option as our card payments weren’t working.
With regards to the Chepe Express schedule it was daily so maybe they’ve reduced it for low season – I’ll double check with my contact and update the post if necessary. I’ll also update for people to check spam for emails with attachments.
If you haven’t taken your trip yet – I hope you have a great time.
This is such a helpful article and looks like such a scenic train journey!
Many thanks for this advice. Worked immediately.
I had actually clicked on the “contact” on the Chepe website and got an answer from a travel agency…. found this a little strange so looked on internet for more infos I found your blog…. Great infos !
That’s brilliant to hear – so glad my post helped you! Have a fantastic trip 🙂
Very usefull! thank you for all those explanation with all details. I am booking very soon from Creel. Muchas gracias.
Hi Sonia, I’m so glad you found my post helpful. I hope you have a fantastic trip!
Very helpful.so well explained with details. I will book very soon and will feel confidnt.
Thank you for this informations! They helped me to get a ticket ?????! Just send a mail to ferromex, then it’s easy …
No worries, so glad it helped. Hope you have a great time!
Your advice worked a treat for me. I was getting worried, having read lots of other travel forums, about tickets for El Chepe, but I followed your advice, sent one email, “ferromex” replied with a confirmation and a link to pay by credit card (this without any prompt from myself) and once I’d paid online my ticket was generated automatically. Sorted! Muchas Gracias
Hi, that’s great I’m glad my post was helpful! Hope you enjoy your trip!
Such helpful advice! So detailed! Thank you and great blog!
Thank you so much – glad it’s helpful 🙂