After reading many reviews & complaints about the hordes of elderly American tourists visiting Copper Canyon in the late spring, summer and fall, I decided to do the trip in January when the weather is colder with less tourists. January is a great time as it is cooler but very tolerable (and I live in Florida) and the hotels are less crowded.
Visiting the Copper Canyon as an independent traveler (rather than in one of the group tours) I found to be challenging. After much research on the internet, I chose Pan American Tours as they specialize in independent tours (rather than groups such as Caravan).
If you are on the central or east side of the U.S. you have the option to fly to El Paso and take a bus to Chihuahua. However due to increased U.S./Mexico border violence for the past years, I chose to fly directly to Chihuahua. Continental has 2 flights daily from Houston.
There is First Class and Second Class train service daily through the Copper Canyon.
1st Class service stops only in major tourist station.
2nd Class service may stop in any of 15-61 stations, depending on passengers.
Each train leaves Chihuahua and Los Mochis daily between 6am-7am arriving at the end of each route 8pm-111pm. Double-check actual times the day before!
First Class service offers a Club coach, restaurant & bathrooms.
Smoking is permitted only in the Club car and on platforms.
Seats in First Class service are roomy, comfortable and the cars are carpeted.
Second Class service offers sale of snacks, coffee and basic refreshments.
No food or drink is allowed in passenger cars of 1st Class Service.
Both 1st and 2nd class services have a/c and heating.
Tickets can be purchased through a travel agent or aboard the train.
If you don't have a ticket prior to boarding, simply find yourself a seat and the Conductor will come by and will print you up a ticket and collect the money.
The Conductor carries a portable automatic ticket printer.
First Class service costs about double that of Second Class service however First Class arrival and departure times are more dependable.
Second Class tickets cannot be purchased outside of Mexico.
For those that are concerned, the train water system does not dump waste water onto tracks; waste water is stored in tanks which are emptied into special cisterns at either end of the route.
The train ride between Bahuichivo to Temoris is the most impressive portion of the rail trip. There are canyons, cliffs, waterfalls, 37 bridges & 86 tunnels with three (3) levels of tracks.