Epic Rides in Mexico – MEX 40/40D The Devils Backbone

Tale of two roads. Between Mazatlan and Durango you have two amazing roads to choose from. The MEX 40 or the 40D. the 40 is free, old, twisty, takes 7 to 8 hours to ride. Alternatively, the 40D is new, fast, has 115 bridges (one of them being the highest suspension bridge in the Americas) and 61 tunnels. and it costed a fortune to built. The good news is that you can easily jump between roads on the journey. More details below from Dangerous Roads.

Location

Between Mazatlan (State of Sinola) and Durango (State of Durnago)

Road Details

MEX 40
El espinazo del diablo (The devils backbone) is a famous mountain road in Mexico. Located between Mazatlan on the west coast of mainland Mexico and Durango, which lies east of the Sierra Madre Mountains, this road is known by locals and internationally for its hairpins and zigzags turns. The road lies almost entirely over 2.000 meters above the sea level.

Some sections of MEX 40 are narrow with lots of curves (around 2.000). Despite of many cautionary tales about crossing the devils backbone, El Espinazo del Diablo, is exceptionally well maintained and there are many cautionary signs marking most of the hazards.

There are some versions of the name given to the area. One says that the impressive ravines deployed on both sides of the road allow to see the devil. Local legend says that when the Archangel Michael threw the devil from heaven and he landed here on earth, his backbone formed the rugged ridgeline of the Sierra Madres. The road has had a bad reputation for many reasons: it’s accident-prone and hundreds of people have died on it, these mountains have historically been remote and inaccessible enough that they are used for growing marijuana and poppies, and therefore, there has been a lot of crime in these mountains related to drug trafficking.
The road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair pin corners, high elevations and steep grades. This road is so curvy and twisted that it takes 7-8 hours to cross (that’s an average speed of 20 mph or less). It is the only place to cross the Sierra Madres for more than 500 miles.

Mountain Views from MEX40D

MEX 40D – New Toll Road (Cuota)
In 2013, the MEX 40D was opened. This highway, is 140-miles-long, has 115 bridges and 61 tunnels and costed $2.2 billion. 

The most spectacular part of the drive is the Baluarte Bridge (Puente Baluarte). It’s the highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the third-highest bridge overall and the highest bridge in the Americas. It’s a record-breaking 1124 meters, width – 20 meters, and its height above the canyon is 403 meters.

When is the best time to Ride?

All year round. Winter months may add icy roads and heavy fog to the ride.

Why is it an ‘Epic Ride’

The roads are amongst the most famous in mexico, and rightly so. It’s amazing to jump between roads and enjoy the altitude shift from sea level to some of the most stunning mountains in Mexico. Tunnels, bridges, thousands of curves and relatively low traffic. Doesn’t get much better than this.


Highlights

Baluarte Bridge

The Baluarte bridge is on the newer 40D road and has a total length of 1,124 m (3,688 ft) with a central cable-stayed span of 520 m (1,710 ft) With the road deck at 403 m (1,322 ft) above the valley below, the Baluarte Bridge is the third-highest cable-stayed bridge in the world, the seventh-highest bridge overall and the highest bridge in the Americas. 

Baluarte Bridge
Baluarte Bridge Document (English Subtitles)

Mirador El Espinazo Del Diablo (The Devils Backbone viewpoint)

This Viewpoint exists on MEX 40 here and allows riding to stop and take in the amazing views of the mountains. No doubt when you then you’ll find many other bikes enjoying the rest stop. 

It is also where you can get a photo near the Ruta 666 sign.

Ruta 666

TimeLapse Video of the Ride on MEX 40D

Time Lapse of MEX 40D

Video Blog of my Ride on the MEX40

Photo Gallery