American Orient Express: El Paso, Texas, to Copper Canyon, Mexico

Oct 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

VINTAGE VOYAGE: A deluxe suite on the American Orient Express    Photo: American Orient Express

Miles: 1,312
A vast network of gorges and rivers four times the size of the Grand Canyon, Mexico's Copper Canyon is an often overlooked miracle in the Sierra Madre Occidental. American Orient Express (no relation to the European original) unveiled its seven-day itinerary in 2003, and it's one of the most scenic routes in the world. Restored vintage railcars—including those used on the New York Central and Union Pacific railroads during the fifties—shuttle you on tracks used only by freight trains for the past half-century. Watch barrel cactus with bright-yellow blooms, roadrunners, and Gila monsters whiz by as you chug south. Stops include 93-foot Cusárare Falls, in Creel, and Balancing Rock Overlook, near the isolated canyonside village of Divisadero, where you'll witness a traditional dance performance by the native Tarahumara tribe.

» MEXICO: American Orient Express (800-320-4206, runs its seven-day Copper Canyon and Colonial Mexico trips ten times a year. From $3,990 per person for vintage Pullman sleeper cars, made famous by films like North by Northwest; prices include meals and excursions.