The train rolls through Copper Canyon every day from both directions...and our small groups are often on it!

The train rolls through Copper Canyon every day from both directions…and our small groups are often on it!

We are the leaders in small group trips to the majestic Copper Canyon. Our trips are scheduled more than monthly and we can take your small group on just about any date. Click on the links below for info:

Copper Canyon train trip

Copper Canyon Culinary Trip

Run Run Run Copper Canyon Running Tour

Copper Canyon Tours



8 day journey to the Sea of Cortez and the Baja Peninsula.

February is an amazing month to experience three of the

most charismatic marina animals in the world; the gray

whale, the sea turtle and the whale shark.

The first adventure takes us across the Peninsula (by vans

to the Pacific side) to the gray whale birthing lagoons of

Magdalena Bay. Once we arrive we will board 32 ft. pangas

(fishing boats) and experience life amidst the gray whales

as females nurture their calves and males jostle for the mating

rights to the females.

On the Sea of Cortez side, we will be engaged in the

“Planned Activities” and both of our “Wildlife Conservation

Projects”; a sea turtle monitoring program and assisting in

whale shark research (see pages 3/4 for more info). Not often

do we have the opportunity to participate in the world

conservation of our marine life. These are rare and often life

changing experiences leaving memories of a lifetime.

No other expedition offers such a unique program encompassing

close encounters with such rare marine animals.

Click here for full brochure.

People travel to this grand place expecting the wonders of the canyon scenery and the train. But they come back with more.

You remember the people.

You can plan a train ride, but you can’t plan the personal interactions and impressions that make for a truly life enriching travel experience.

The Tarahumaras are so memorable, the only Indians to truly survive the sweep of the Spanish up through Mexcio. They are the poster children for what not to wear…

The Tarahumara women love these bright prints...knock your eyes out. These skirts are drying on a fence beside the stream in Cusarare.


In the church at Cusarare.


They have fashioned all kinds of simple musical instruments… like instruments you have never heard and that make all kinds of sounds.

Young Tarahumara woman on a distant trail below Divisadero.


 And you remember the intense, distant countenance of these people…a look that goes way through you.

You remember their silent, relaxed, settled, ancient stare.

Miguel selling vegetables from his burro in Areponapuchi.

A recent Authentic Copper Canyon group relaxing high above Urique in Copper Canyon

Copper Canyon Tour 

All aboard Dec 11-18 for another of our grand experiences in Copper Canyon….and call Dave at 217.369.9897 or email right away- it is just around the corner. This trip is a full experience up and down the CHEPE railway and includes visits to the lovely Noritari and the historic and pottery areas of Casas Grandes and Mata Ortiz.

Gondola in Copper Canyon

The new gondola in Copper Canyon has just opened and will be a part of our experience there. There is lots of controversy surrounding this new tourist attraction –  but it cannot be argued that it is amazing (reported to be the highest in the world) and that it will attract tourists. The main concern is for the well-being, land, and culture of the indigenous Tarahumara Indians– the barefoot runners made famous by “Born to Run“.

Video of the Copper Canyon gondola can be seen at our blog.

On the new Copper Canyon gondola a few weeks ago.

 Another trip in January

Just after the first of the year, we have another excursion to the Sierra Madres- Jan 2-11.

A genuine part of the local culture in Copper Canyon is the basket weaving of the Tarahumara women ( I have NEVER see a Tarahumara man weaving a basket or even in the vicinity when they are being made!). They hang out along the road, at the overlooks, or near the hotels. People are amazed at how perfect and detailed they are. Here is how they get started.

Once the leaves are prepped, the weaving begins…here shown high above Oteros Canyon.

The baskets are innexpensive…like $1-4 USD and come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.

An assortment of baskets at the market near Divisadero.

Sunrise near Areponapuchi


We go to this great place about every month or so…and more often as the days go by. Sometimes the trips emphasize food, or photography or whatever. This excursion is a full dose of the train along with the pottery and Paquime ruins areas north of the Sierra Madres…and as always, it is a small group experience…not just a trip. 

Here are the details: 

Authentic Copper Canyon Train Trip…not a “big bus” trip…not even close! 

November 5-14, 2010  

This 10 day, 9 night trip is out of, and returning to El Paso.  

An incredible train experience in Copper Canyon plus much more: 

  • A visit to the sotol (like tequila) production places at Janos
  • Mata Ortiz pottery and the Paquime ruins around Casas Grandes
  • Many food treats (a taste of our Blue Corn Express culinary trip coming soon) including an overnight at Noritari, high in the Sierra Madres
  • The remote village of Urique and the soaring cliffs of Copper Canyon
  • Cerocahui- a lovely little town and visits to the Copper vistas, waterfalls, and a Tarahumara home
  • Divisadero and the tiny ranchito Cabanas Diaz- come hungry!
  • The Mennonite areas with the vast apple orchards and world famous cheeses
  • Chihuahua City, with the Pancho Villa home, great restaurants, the 1700s cathedral…and a stay at the San Felipe el Real- a special boutique hotel in the historic district- always a fave with our guests!

Friday, Nov 5 – You arrive in El Paso. The airport is a good place to get pesos. Use the Travelex near the spot where you turn right to go to the baggage area. Check into your room at the Hawthorn Suites and dinner on your own. We will meet briefly at 7:30p for orientation and to get acquainted. 

Saturday, Nov 6 – Breakfast at the hotel and we meet at 9a to head for Santa Teresa NM (20 minutes) to cross into Mexico. We are met by our friend Gus and his van for the short journey to Janos. We lunch in Janos and get a warm welcome and tour with Celso and Emma at Don Cuco Sotol. Sotol is THE drink of Chihuahua and is somewhat like tequila- but better! Then off in the afternoon to Casas Grandes and as the evening cools a stroll through the ancient Indian ruins at Paquime. We are welcomed at the incredible “Las Guacamayas”- comfortable, spacious, and food to die for. (Included meals:B,L,D) 

            Casas Grandes– Right on the edge of Casas are the Paquime Indian archaeological ruins- a UNESCO World Heritage site- and nearby is the tiny village of Mata Ortiz. The pottery from this area is very special and known around the world for its intricacy and character. 

Sunday, Nov 7 – A relaxing morning with time to stroll the ruins or shop the little Mata gallery at Las Guacamayas and then we head southwest up into the mountains. Winding our way into the Sierra Madre, we drop into several little villages and then the relaxing wooded Noritari- a unique cabanas style hotel with a gourmet cook. A great night to enjoy dinner, chat with the chef, and take a stroll through the mountains. (B,L,D) 

            Noritari– This unique 80 hectare site is dotted with cabins with fireplaces, private baths, solar lighting- the nearby stream flows and the pines whisper. Enjoy. 

Monday, Nov 8 – Breakfast at Noritari and then off to Creel to catch the train- with some time to shop around in Creel a bit. We board the train and get our first whistle-stop, eye-popping view of Copper Canyon at Divisadero. We are met at the Bahuichivo station by the jovial Alberto Lopez and take the short ride to the enchanting village of Cerocahui. We have a few minutes open to stroll the plaza and streets of “Cero”. Then off to the outlook and down to Urique for the night. (B,L,D) 

            Cerocahui– This quiet little town sits in a beautiful valley and is a great place to experience real Mexico. Our evening is close by at the bottom of the canyon near the river in Urique. The highlight here is “Agua Chile”- perhaps the most delicious shrimp concoction you have ever experienced. 

Tuesday, Nov 9 – After coffee, we vamos for the knockout views of Copper Canyon at Gallego. A visit to a Tarahumara home along the way. We grab late brk in Cero and reboard the train for the unsurpassed journey toward our evening destination, El Fuerte. Tunnels, bridges, canyons, mountains…have your cameras ready! Lunch on the train on your own. Arrive in El Fuerte for dinner…this place is known for incredible food! (B,D) 

            El Fuerte– A small town with a quaint (and delicious!) market and lots of colonial architecture. History, Indian culture, bird watching, and a palm lined plaza make this place a favorite.  

Wednesday, Nov 10 – A full day of exploring the area- the wonderful colonial town with lots of opportunities for food and photography. A morning trip to the river for bird watching as we float and a walk through the local petro glyph site. Lunch on your own. The visit to the market here is a must, then dinner in a local home with our host Evangelina. (B,D) 

Evangelina– This lovely lady with her brother and extended family live in one of the historic mansions off the square in El Fuerte. We often dine with them and get a full taste of some genuine Copper Canyon hospitality. 

Thursday, Nov 11 – Board the train in the morning headed northeast for Areponapuchi (Posada Barranca station). Lunch on your own on the train and we arrive at the beautiful “Rancho” near the station. Dinner with our hosts, Armando and Herlinda Diaz as well as perhaps a walk up to watch the sunset over the vast reaches of Copper Canyon. “Arepo”as we call it, is officially “nowhere Mexico”. The area around Arepo gives us a good long look at Copper Canyon, and we have plenty of time to look around. (B,D) 

            Areponapuchi– Just call it Arepo and don’t expect the big city. This tiny place sits near the rim of some of the best views of Copper Canyon. From here you can walk or ride horses in and around the great canyon. Also a good place to pick up local souvenirs. 

Friday, Nov 12 – Sunrise at the edge of Copper anyone? Breakfast and a walk down through a Tarahumara cave dwelling. Some last views of the canyon, then we catch our vans for the trip through the Mennonite agricultural area toward the big apple- Chihuahua City. Dinner together and perhaps an evening view of the gigantic cathedral in the central plaza. We check into the historic boutique hotel, the San Felipe el Real. Stroll the historic district and the vast market. (B,D) 

Chihuahua City- This bustling hub for commerce has its roots as a mining and ranching center. Several fascinating museums (including the Pancho Villa home) gather around the towering 1700s cathedral. The food here is a bit eclectic and reflects the melting pot that Chihuahua has become. We have options here for dining in a home or to have a local chef cater at the hotel. 

Mennonites- They migrated here from Canada around 1922 and have transformed the high plateaus into some of the most productive land in Chihuahua. Still German speakers, they produce apples, oats, and dairy products- including the famous white Chihuahua cheese. 

Saturday, Nov 13- A hearty breakfast and some time to look around  Chihuahua City. Then we head north, catch lunch in one of the delightful Chihuahua desert towns and arrive at our hotel in El Paso for the evening. (B,L) 

Sunday, Nov 14– Breakfast at the hotel and we catch our flights for home! (B) 

Pricing and details for November 5-14, 2010 

  • Trip cost is $1,449 double occ and $1,699 single occ.
  • All hotels have private baths, hot water and linens and most have air conditioning- ones without air are in the mountains.
  • Hotels range from 3.5 star range to simpler cabana style places in the small towns. All are secure, clean, and have comfortable beds.
  • Price includes all transport to and from the El Paso airport, all Mexico meals except 4 (alcohol on your own), and all entry and guides to places in the itinerary.
  • Arrangements can be made for guests to stay over for an extra day or more in Chihuahua City.
  • Travel insurance including medical and evacuation coverage is strongly encouraged
  • Your lead guide is Dave Hensleigh and we will also be accompanied by various local guides along the way
  • Most guests bring $200 -400 USD in pesos for the 4 meals, incidentals, souvenirs, and small tips- primary gratuities are included.
  • ACC will supply a bring list and an FAQ sheet to help you prepare for this trip.
  • Cutoff for registration and deposit is September 1, 2010.

For more info, registration and deposit, contact Dave Hensleigh,, 217.369.9897

A recent Authentic Copper Canyon group(ito) relaxing with Dave high above Copper Canyon.


People enjoy riding the rails through this vast land with Dave Hensleigh, and he enjoys it too! His experience, his keen insight on the land and culture of the country, his unbridled passion for the experience there- all of this combines to make him the ideal Copper guide.


Dave hails from rural roots in Kansas and was educated in the Midwest and Texas, earning an undergrad in Math and a Masters in Biology. All through his youth, the trails, mountains, grasslands and wild places of the Midwest and West were his haunt. One summer in college was spent roaming Yosemite, and since, backpacking the Sierras has been a hobby.


For thirty years, Dave has been leading groups of people on trips and adventures and his cumulative experience in this work is vast. Several years ago he connected with Copper Canyon, fell in love with the place and its people, and immersed himself in the Sierra Madre culture.


He started Authentic Copper Canyon with a vision to give curious travelers a vivid experience in the true life of Copper and its people- not simply a vacation or resort experience. Recently, writers traveling with Dave on the train referred to him as a “relationship machine.”  No one on the train is a stranger and he has friendships up and down the canyon. Dave is curious and loves to facilitate the serendipitous journeys for which Authentic Copper Canyon is famous.

 The Team:

Dave has assembled a team of guides and providers in the Sierra Madres that work together to provide vivid, safe and memorable experiences for each guest. This articulate group are experts on  the history, wildlife, and lore of the Copper Canyon region.

 Welcome Aboard!

Travel with Dave for just a day and you will know the place more deeply, you will meet and enjoy some new Mexican friends…and your life will be enriched.

I was rolling along on the train in Copper last year, musing on my love for the fascinating and delicious foods of the Sierra Madres. I thought…why is there no culinary trip in Copper Canyon?

Well 15 months later…here it is…THE BLUE CORN EXPRESS!

You gotta try this Agua Chile...more shrimp than you can imagine!

“The Blue Corn Express” vision: a culturally rich immersion into the majestic Cooper Canyon and the kitchens, restaurants, and markets of northern Mexico giving you a hands-on introduction to authentic Norteño cuisine.

What is this “Norteño” style all about? Central northern Mexico is largely undeveloped by most standards and still has the flavor of old Mexico. Geographically it stretches across the high desert, piney Sierra Madre Mountains, and rugged canyons of Chihuahua and Sonora. The pace is slow, the people are friendly and the genuine nature of the desert and mountain areas is reflected in the culture- especially in the food.

Patricia Quintana calls the cuisine “rugged, hearty, and unpretentious” fare reflecting this wild land. This is cowboy food from the original home of the cowboy. Cheeses, full- flavored stews, meats, vegetables, and so much more.

The chefs in Chihuahau are excited about this vision. As I have talked with them over the past few months, they are excited about their unique and delicious foods being understood and enjoyed. Really there is an opportunity for us to not only develop a quality definitive culinary trip there, but to be a part of communicating the wonders of this food scene in other ways.

Here is the itinerary…call me now at 217.369.9897 for info or email

The Blue Corn Express is a week long immersion into the kitchens and markets of the Sierra Madres by train.

There is talk around about this fine old Mexican institution becoming history. If it does, what a loss. Miles and miles of wonder…

CHEPE rolls through Copper Canyon daily.

People depend on this train for one thing, It is THE way to get through the Sierra Madres…no matter how much the roads are improved over the years. Locals, including the Tarahumaras, us it to get up and down the mountain valleys. business people ride the rails to and from Chihuahua City. And of course there is regular tourist travel on the lines.

There is nothing like relaxing on the train as it rolls through the Sierras.

Actually for years there has been talk of the demise of the train. For now, there are daily departures both ways from Chihuahua City and Los Mochis at 6a for the Primera and every other day (not Wednesday) for the Economica. Freight trains run both ways almost daily.

Authentic Copper Canyon train trips are an up close experience in Copper Canyon

People don’t think summer is a good time for either Copper Canyon or for Baja. But in both locations there are very positive reasons to travel there in July.

First of all July begins the rainy season in the Sierra Madres and the place really freshens.

The great falls at Cusarare begin to flow as the July rains commence.


The falls begin to flow…one of the amazing sights that most Copper visitors never see. this video of the falls at Cusarare gives you a feel of the immensity of the roaring waters. As you roll along on CHEPE, one cool game is to try to count the waterfalls- big and small- they are everywhere.

The green scene in the canyon is breathtaking.

One of our Authentic Copper Canyon travelers at Gallego in August, 2009

 Baja is so good this time of year for two reasons:

1. The water is warm and  the snorkeling and swimming with sea lions is perfect

Our motor yacht in Baja is equipped for kayaking and snorkeling.

2. The place is almost deserted except for a few Mexican tourists.

I can get you to Baja and Copper Canyon for a bargain this July 6-15. Call me right away to get connected…217.369.9897