Read through the descriptions of national parks and other protected lands in central Mexico.
20. Isla Isabel National Park - Nayarit
479 acres. A tiny island with a volcanic crater lake and many, many birds. Camping is allowed.
21. Gogorrsn National Park - San Luis Potosi
61,750 acres near the city of San Luis Potosm. Terrain ranges from highland pine forest to desert in the lower elevations, a coyote kind of place. You can camp at this park. Stop by the visitors center, and soak in the thermal baths.
22. El Potosm National Park -San Luis Potosi
4,940 acres. A stunning area of hills and valleys with names like el Divisadero (Prospect) and Joya de Ventura (Good Luck Jewel). Good camping and hiking.
23. Chamela-Cuixmala Biosphere Reserve - Jalisco
32,460 acres. The lower hills and seacoast portion of the same bioregion as Manantlan, in the watershed of the rmo Cuitzmala. This reserve covers the seacoast and the lower hills. Diversity is the word here: eight different vegetation zones, and several communities of animals, including a fascinating marine zone. There has been some tourist development here; so maybe you can pick up some company, but don't count on it. Rainy season is from November to July.
24. Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve- Jalisco
They say that the name of this region means the place that catches the rain. The Sierra de Manantlan is part of the cultural region known as the Occident of Mexico, that developed in parallel to the pre-Columbian cultures of Meso-America. Its most famous artefacts are not massive stone monuments, but playful figurines drawn from everyday life: mothers with their children, children playing with animals, soldiers, acrobats. Although there has been cultural deterioration, many of the indigenous peoples have held on to their traditions, notably the community of Ayotitlan.
25. Nevado de Colima National Park - Colima
54,830 acres. Two high volcanic peaks: Volcan Nevado (13,943 feet) and el Volcan de Fuego (Volcano of Fire) at 12,507 feet, which is still casting out fumes. Activities include camping, hiking, climbing.
26. Lago de Camecuaro National Park - Michoacan
22 acres. Its main attraction is a smallish lake surrounded by trees, many of them exotic. Okay place for birdwatching. Camping, swimming, boating. Definitely an"if you're in the area" kind of place.
27. Volcán; Paricutín - Michoacan
An infant volcanoe that started to rise in 1949, piling up to be a hefty 410 meter high cone. You can walk or horseback ride to the top.
28. Pico de Tancmtaro National Park
29. Cerro de Garnica National Park - Michoacan
30. El Cimatario National Park - Queretaro
6,045 acres. Historically important -- the site of the Battle of 30 against 400. Semi-arid with stands of mezquite and dry scrub. Coyote, foxes, and falcons. Hiking and camping.
31. Tula National Park - Hidalgo
245 acres. Site of the Toltec capital city of Tula. A magnificent ruin.
32. Los Marmoles National Park - Hidalgo
57,000 acres. The outstanding features are San Vicente Gorge, which reaches a depth of 2,000 feet, and Cangandu Mountain, with an altitude of 9,800 feet above sea level. Interesting wildlife. Good camping and many facilities, including hotels and restaurants.
33. El Chico National Park - Hidalgo
6,765 acres. East of Mexico City. A rugged area with many capriciously shaped - and named - hills: The Nuns (las Monjas), The Rabbit (La Coneja), the Windows (las Ventanas). Hills vary between 8,175 and 9,500 feet above sea level Great climbing, good fishing, camping, and hiking through pine forests.
35. El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary - EM & DF
World famous, for good reason. This is where the Monarch butterfly comes to breed, migrating from all over North America. The butterflies are here from about the end of October through about the middle of April. While here, there are so many they cover the trees, turning them a flaming orange. Near the village of Angangueo. There is absolutely no camping at the reserve.
36. Nevado de Toluca National Park - EM & DF
126,000 acres. Home of the Nevado de Toluca, which in Nahuatl, Xinanticatl means"Mr. Naked." the fourth highest volcanoe in the country at 15,107 feet. Its crater holds two lakes, the Lake of the Sun and the Lake of the Moon. Activities include rock climbing, camping, hiking and diving from the top of a high rock into the lake — a very Mexican sport.
37. Cerro de la Estrella National Park - EM & DF
353 acres. Means Hill of the Star National Park. The hill that gives the park its name was formed by trapped underground gases that formed a sort of cavern - kind of like yeast bubble.
38. Iztaccmhuatl y Popocatipetl National Park - Morelos
63,430 acres. Two most famous mountains in Mexico City. In Nahuatl, Popocatipetl means Smoking Mountain, and Iztaccmhuatl, means White Woman. Second and third highest mountains in Mexico, at 17,828 and 17,285 feet, respectively. Excellent climbing and hiking. Facilities include an alpine hotel, Vicente Guerrero, at a spot called Tlamacas (12,750 feet).
39. Cofre de Perote National Park - Veracruz
In the countryside around Xalapa, chockful of caves and waterfalls. Follow a rough dirt road almost to the summit of this 14,000 foot high volcano. Key word here is rough - don't even think of trying this in your rented bug.
40. Desierto del Carmen National Park - EM & DF
1,300 acres. Site of the ex-convent of the same name.
41. Insurgente Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla National Park - EM & DF
4,347 acres. Got its name by being the site of the historic battle of Monte de la Cruces. It is a large valley surrounded by mountains and wooded zones of pine and oyamel. Camping and hiking.
42. Cumbres de Ajusco National Park - EM & DF
2,272 acres. Three important peaks packed close together: la Cruz del Marquis at 12,850 feet, Santo Tomas at 12,130 feet, and the Pico del Aguila, at 12,688 feet. Climbing and hiking.
43. Malinche National Park - Puebla
112,900 acres. Home of the volcano named after Cortez's Aztec lover, La Malinche. The volcano towers an impressive 14,587 feet — a worthy tribute. Many underground streams flow out of the mountain. Activities including camping, climbing, hiking. Full accomodations, including an alpine alberg, cabanas, playgrounds, food vendors, camping areas and ranger staff. For those who like playgrounds.
44. Pico de Orizaba National Park - Veracruz
48,780 acres. Has the highest elevation in the country at 18,793 feet. You'll find an alpine refuge at Piedra Grande (13,800 feet) as well as camping areas and some breathtaking overlooks.
45. Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, Cacachuamilpa National Park - Morelos
3,952 acres. Near the town of Taxco. Dramatic caverns with chambers up to 270 feet high and lots of filigree. At the end is a walk through the valley of the Rmo dos Bocas (River of Two Mouths), where two rivers emerge from the cavern.
46. Lagunas de Zempoala National Park - Morelos
11,532 acres.A group of six lakes stocked with fish near Cuernavaca. Popular with vacationers from the capitol. Very important for the maintenance of the region's water supply. To fish, you need a permit from SEDESO & SEPESCA. Also camping facilities and pleasant walking.
47. El Tepozteco - Morelos
59,280 acres. Located mostly in the municipalities of Tepotzlan and Tlalnepantla. Its principal attractions are the archeological ruins of Aztec temples consecrated to the gods of pulque (a kind of liquor) and fertility. Tepozticatl, same as that in summit of hill Tlahulitepec. Mixed pine, oak, and oyamel forests. Activities include hiking, camping and climbing.
48. Ajusco-Chichinautzin Biological Corridor - Morelos
92,136 acres. A biological corridor that links the parks of Tepozteco and the Lagunas de Zempoala. Many different kinds of terrain, including an area known as the"bad lands." Magnificent camping and hiking.
49. El Veladero National Park - Guerrero
7,805 acres. In the mountain range that surrounds Acapulco Bay, protecting the watershed that serves the port. Many tropical trees and some wildlife. A good place to head to if you're bored with watersports and margaritas, and want to see a little inland nature.
50. Benito Juarez National Park - Oaxaca
6,760 acres of pine and oak forest. A recharge area for the people as well as the aquifers of the city of Oaxaca. Camping and hiking.
51. Lagunas de Chacachua National Park - Oaxaca
35,000 acres. Hire a tour boat through the local tourist cooperative and explore tropical lagoons with alligators, turtles, mangrove and mahogany trees, tropical birds and orchids. West of Puerto Escondido.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication