Espinazo del Diablo, a scenic road in Mexico

Espinazo del Diablo
Espinazo del Diablo

Espinazo del Diablo, in English “The Devil’s Backbone”, is a scenic mountain road located on the west coast of Mexico between the states of Durango and Sinaloa. The road, is officially known as highway 40. It runs between the mountains and canyons of the Sierra Madre Oriental. This road is quite famous for its winding and serpentine turns and is a must-see for any traveler or road tripper in Mexico.

Where is Espinazo del Diablo located?

You can drive the Espinazo del Diablo or highway 40 (its official name) between Durango and Sinaloa states on the west coast of Mexico.

The road starts in the town of Durango and travels all the way to the seaside resort city of Mazatlán.

It passes through several small towns and villages along the way, with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. The road also spans the Rio Fuerte, a major river in the area.

You can situate the road on the map just below:

Enlarge the map

Facts about Espinazo del Diablo road:

Road description:

Espinazo del Diablo is a two-lane (one each way) road running on the west coast of Mexico and stretching for roughly 330 kilometers (205 miles).

This itinerary is on the to-do list of many travelers and road trippers in Mexico. Even though the itinerary itself is not that long and can be done easily in one day, but there are a lot of things to see and to stop by so consider spending more time to enjoy the road. Indeed, this road gives a huge variety of landscapes!

Although the route reaches an altitude of up to 2,750 meters (9,000 feet) above sea level, it ends at only about 40 meters (130 feet) above sea level. It will take you about 6 to 8 hours to complete the journey of approximately.

The devil’s backbone road is in perfect condition and relatively easy to drive, so don’t get distracted by the magnificent scenery. The road is also popular among cyclists and bikers, so be careful.

In high season or on weekends, there can be a lot of people on that road. Better choose a weekday or come there earlier in the morning!


El Espinazo del Diablo road was built in the 1940s. The road had a bad reputation and often made the local news for lack of maintenance and high rate of accidents. Additionally, the road was also known to be a drug trafficking route, causing negative impacts on the communities surrounding the road.

There are different versions and of course legends and explanations about the name. One of those legends says that when God expelled Lucifer from heaven, he fell in that region. That formed the steep crest of the Sierra Madre. Others assure that the Devil lives in these lands and from time to time appears to the lonely drivers.

In 2013, an alternative route was created, the highway 40D, to bypass the treacherous mountain road of Espinazo del Diablo. This new toll road is 225 kilometers (140 miles) long, features 115 bridges and 61 tunnels, and cost more than $2 billion to construct. It was massive investment to develop the region.

Itinerary of the road

The Devil’s Backbone, or El Espinazo del Diablo, is a famous mountain road situated on the west coast of Mexico.

To ride this road, you should follow highway 40. The itinerary starts from the city of Durango in Durango State, and ends 330 kilometers (205 miles) further in the seaside town of Mazatlan in Sinaloa State.

Don’t get confused, there will be also a road named 40D. It is the name of the new road built to bypass it.

Another scenic road in Mexico is the road to Punta Allen.

You visualize how to get there on this map of the drive:

What near Espinazo del Diablo ?

Wether you are looking for natural beauty or historical landmark, the region has a lot to offer. Here are a few things you might want to check out on your road trip on Espinazo del Diablo

  • Viewpoints :he most known have the same that the road: Espinazo del Diablo. The Espinazo del Diablo viewpoint, also known as “El mirador,” is the highest point on the road and one of the most popular. This viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, canyons and valleys, making it a popular stop for tourists and photographers.
  • The city of Durango is the starting point of the Espinazo del Diablo road and is a historic and cultural destination with many interesting landmarks and museums.
  • Resorts & beaches : The seaside resort city of Mazatlan is the endpoint of the Espinazo del Diablo road and is known for its beaches, seafood, nightlife and historic center. Some of the most beautiful beaches are Cerritos, Gaviotas and Olas Altas.
Espinazo del Diablo

A preview of the drive:

If you are planning your road trip to Espinazo del Diablo, you should definitely watch this YouTube video to have an idea of this scenic drive:

Is Espinazo del Diablo road open?

The drive is usually always open all year around.

While driving, don’t forget basic security rules. Also, look out for animal hazards, pull over to let faster traffic pass if you’re driving slowly.

During the winter months, be aware of the remaining ice because of the altitude of the road. In addition, the road passes through mountains and deep ravines.

So, Espinazo del Diablo is one of the best roads on the west coast of Mexico. This famous road runs through the mountains and offers amazing turns and landscapes. You can’t miss the opportunity to drive this road if you are traveling in the area.

Pictures credits: By panza.rayada, CC BY-SA 3.0, / By Tereso Hernández, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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