How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon | Mexico

Affiliate link disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. We receive a small commission if you purchase through a link, but this will not increase the amount you pay. Read more in our full Affiliate Link Disclosure.

How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon, Mexico

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 worlds 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.

UPDATE 22 May 2020: The deputy director of Tourism of Ferromex, Jimena Ramírez Lombana announced they will be offering a 40% discount on tourist class El Chepe tickets when it reopens under strict safety and hygiene protocols.

UPDATE February 2020: This post has been updated following receipt of further email clarification from El Chepe themselves.

This clarifies which El Chepe train tickets MUST be booked in advance and what can be purchased on the day and on the train itself.

There are also some El Chepe train schedule and price updates as of January 11th 2020.

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

Chepe Express, Copper Canyon in Mexico

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.
 

2. Itinerary

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 video from this part of the journey.

 

IMPORTANT:

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.

 

Copper Canyon Railway View, Mexico
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 chepe.mochis@ferromex.mx or chepe.reservaciones@ferromex.mx. I did this and received a reply within a day from chepe.reservaciones@ferromex.mx; 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.

Mexico Travel Resources

Planning your trip to Mexico? Here are some of our recommended useful resources to help you have the best time possible:

DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE. If you’re travelling long-term like us and from the EU True Traveller is best. If you’re from other countries worldwide, World Nomads is good. 

A new contender for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing, which you can pay for on a month by month basis. This is also a good option for shorter trips.

● Find great flight deals on Skyscanner US, Skyscanner UK and Kayak.

● Booking.com or HotelsCombined have the best hotel prices.

● Our go-to for self-catering accommodation is  Airbnb.

● Before booking accommodation, check reviews on TripAdvisor.

● Even in the days of Google we still like to use guidebooks How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon | Mexico 1for ideas, like Lonely Planet UK and Lonely Planet US and Canada.

● Discover fantastic trips and activities with Viator and GetYourGuide.

● G Adventures and Intrepid Travel offer group holidays and tours, or compare many tour agencies with TourRadar.

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?

Enjoy this post? Pin it for later!

How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon, Mexico Pin3
How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon, Mexico Pin4
How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon, Mexico Pin5

Subscribe for exclusive email updates, travel tips, offers and giveaways!



I confirm I've read Can Travel Will Travel's Privacy Policy



Buy Me a Coffee

A ridiculous amount of coffee is consumed in the running of this blog.

If you find our content helpful, interesting or entertaining (or all three), please consider buying us a coffee to help us refuel so we can continue creating quality content for you!

Thank you for your support!

BUY ME A COFFEE

 

27 thoughts on “How to Book El Chepe Train Tickets for the Copper Canyon | Mexico

  1. TanyaKorteling Post author

    Hi everyone,

    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…

      1. TanyaKorteling Post author

        I shall have to try and watch it somehow – any questions feel free to drop me a message.

  2. Ted

    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!

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Hi Ted,

      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.

      Thanks
      Tanya

  3. Pingback: Travel Planning Guide to the Best Puerto Vallarta Beaches

  4. Matt

    Hey,

    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,

    Matt

  5. Chris Hugo

    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!”

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      Hi Chris,

      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.

  6. Barbara armstrong

    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

    1. TanyaKorteling Post author

      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.

      Thanks
      Tanya

  7. SUSAN MC CREADIE

    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 !

  8. sonia Rice

    Very usefull! thank you for all those explanation with all details. I am booking very soon from Creel. Muchas gracias.
    Sonia

  9. Tony Oates

    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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *