People often ask me which season or which month is best for a Copper Canyon train trip. My standard quick response is “not June”. What I mean by this is that any season has its positive qualities and there is no bad time to explore the Sierra Madres…except perhaps June. This late spring/early summer time can get both hot and dusty/dry and I would recommend people to go a bit earlier or later. But any other season is good and we have people travel the canyons year round.
Let me note that when I got involved in Copper Canyon I had people tell me to avoid January, never go in August, fall was best, etc. My experience (and that of my guests as well) flies in the face of this. Every season has its positive qualities. The important thing is to be ready (clothing wise) and to adjust the itinerary to fit the season.
People who are “experienced” in Copper Canyon tell me to avoid winter. No way! The November through January time is actually one of my favorites. It is possible to get a real cold spell and even significant snow. But this will be at upper elevations and actually when I have experienced snow there, the beauty of it balanced out the inconvenience and the chill. It is wise to bring warm layers in this season.
One thing I plan for winter trips is to include the delightful lower elevations. Batoplilas, Urique, and of course El Fuerte are good stops in this season, and can be quite hot in other times. Winter can be an excellent time period for an extended trip of 12-14 days to include some of the lower elevation areas.
Also the holidays are such a treat in the canyons. Christmas in Copper Canyon is enchanting. A New Years party with the locals is quite a vivid local experience…dancing, talking long into the night, and of course a good amount of sipping sotol and lechuguilla.
The really nice aspect of February through May travel is that the weather is generally dry and quiet. People think it will rain in spring. Not so much. The one down side is that high winds up in the Casas Grandes and other high desert areas can make for a serious windstorm.
One positive in this season is that the apple and peach orchards bloom and this can be quite dramatic. The Mennonite areas feature vast orchards and they truly shine during this time.
Once the rains start around July 1st, the whole Sierra Madre area takes to life. The waterfalls gush, the mountains turn green and all seems full of life. One travel note is to stay at high elevations. This season is excellent for hiking the high ridges around Areponapuchi. Also the Creel area is nice during this time including the dramatic waterfall at Cusarare. Basasiachic and the majestic falls there is also a good option in this season.
Many people proclaim fall as THE time to experience Copper Canyon trips. And yes fall is nice. Generally things are green, waterfalls flow, and the weather is moderate. People often ask me why I don’t just recommend this season. Well, I do recommend fall. I simply see advantages at other times of year as well. One practical aspect of planning Copper Canyon tours is that we simply can’t do all of our trips in this season due to scheduling.
But I would also say (and I have explained above) is that other seasons truly have their positive points.
One thing I noted above with the Christmas holidays is quite important. Local and national festivals (Dia los Muertos, Guadalupe, etc) will feature fiestas in the little towns and these can be fun.