CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — I won’t lie: I had some qualms about traveling alone to the Copper Canyon, a series of awe-inspiring gorges bigger than the Grand Canyon that happen to be in the same northwestern region of Mexico consumed by drug-trafficking violence.
At the same time, I knew from being in the news business that tourists are seldom, if ever, the target of such violence. I also was aware of the tendency to paint an entire region with a bleak brush when only small pockets are actually affected.
I’m glad I shrugged off the doubts. My trip to Las Barrancas del Cobre, as they are known in Spanish, was a great adventure. And I can confidently say that traveling here is safe – especially if you stick to the route of el Chepe, the government-run train that this year celebrates its 50th anniversary depositing tourists and commuters along a 400-mile (650-kilometer) stretch from Los Mochis in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa to Chihuahua city, capital of Chihuahua state. The canyons themselves are all located within Chihuahua state’s borders.