Espinazo del Diablo, a scenic road in Mexico

Espinazo del Diablo
Espinazo del Diablo

Espinazo del Diablo is a famous route in Mexico which in English is called The devil’s backbone. It is a mountain road on the mainland west coast of Mexico.
The road is quite famous with locals and tourists alike for its hairpins and zigzag turns.

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.

More precisely, the road starts in the town of Durango and goes all the way to the city of Mazatlán, a resort on the seaside.

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!

The road is located almost permanently at an altitude of over 2000 meters (6500 ft) above sea level. Also, it will take you about 6 hours to drive from Durango to Mazatlán.

The devil’s backbone road is in perfect condition and relatively easy to drive, so don’t get distracted by the magnificent coastal 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!


For a very long time, this road had a bad reputation, in one it was very accident-prone because it was rather poorly maintained but above all because it was a drug route with the consequences due to traffic on the inhabitants around the road.

For the name there are several legends: One says that the impressive ravines deployed on both sides of the road allow to see the devil. A second 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.

In 2013 the famous mountain road was bypassed by the amazing toll road, the highway 40D. This highway is made of 225 kilometers (140 miles) long, has 115 bridges and 61 tunnels, and costed more than $2 billion. This road is planned to have a traffic of 5 million vehicles per year (that’s x4 comparing with the old road).

Itinerary of the road

The road is situated on the west coast of Mexico.

To ride this road you should follow highway 40 (and not 40D!).

The itinerary starts from the city of Durango (Durango State) and ends 330 kilometers (205 miles) further in the seaside town of Mazatlán (Sinaloa State)

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

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

Espinazo del Diablo road attraction:

Along the road, there will be a lot of viewpoints for you to enjoy the imposing nature landscapes. The most known have the same that the road: Espinazo del Diablo.

El Espinazo del Diablo is a natural viewpoint at 2440 meters (8000 ft) above sea level, between two deep ravines. It is located at kilometer 168 of the Mexican Federal Highway 40. From this point, there is a magnificent stretch of road from which you can see the landscape of the Sierra Madre Occidentale culminating at 2744 meters (9002 ft) above sea level.

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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