Some of the most wonderful vacation experiences can be had south of the border in Mexico. The nation of Mexico offers wonderful cities with a great many attractions, beautiful coastlines featuring gorgeous beaches and access to warm ocean water, and underrated scenery available high up in the more mountainous regions. The reasons for going to Mexico for a vacation are almost endless, with a great many first class and interesting experiences just waiting to be had. Many people vacation to Mexico as just a brief stopover as part of their cruise and others visit an all-inclusive resort where they seldom venture out to see what the real Mexico is really like. Still others visit the country with an eye on experiencing the culture and seeing as much of it as possible.
For that last group that plans on seeing much of the interesting land of Mexico, one of the most overlooked features in Mexico is the country’s fine system of national parks. There are a great many national parks in Mexico, some feature access to the ocean and others are more secluded and include the higher mountains in the country. One thing is for sure though, Mexico is home to some of the world’s most beautiful scenery and much of it is preserved in the nation’s national parks. Here is a look at just some of the more notable national parks in Mexico.
Palenque National Park
Located in the southern region of Mexico, Palenque was a city state during the times of the Mayan empire. Visitors going there today can enjoy the massive amount of archaeological work that has been done at the site. It is now possible to climb steps of some of the historic stone structures located there and walk amongst what was once a thriving community. This chance to see this kind of history first hand should not be passed up by anyone vacationing in the area of Palenque National Park.
Desierto de los Leones National Park
Desierto de los Leones, or Desert of the Lions, National Park is visually not what people expect to see when they visit there as the surroundings are not desert-like in any way. The park is largely forested and sits at a fairly high altitude. This is one of the oldest protected natural areas in Mexico, having first been set aside for protection in 1876. Besides the fabulous age old forested area, there are other things to see in the park including an old 17th century monastery, quaint shops, local restaurants, and more. The park also offers a number of outdoor recreational opportunities including camping, hiking, picnicking, and mountain biking.
Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park
Stretching across the borders of the Mexican states of Mexico and Puebla, Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park is home to a fabulous amount of natural beauty. Both Popocatepetl and Ixtaccihuatl, Mexico’s second and third tallest mountains, are located within the park’s boundaries. This area is popular with those seeking to get out and enjoy the great outdoors and features camping and an extensive network of hiking trails.
La Marquesa National Park
Just west of the city of Mexico City sits La Marquesa National Park. This park is very near to another national park, Desierto de los Leones National Park, and is equally popular with those wanting to enjoy the outdoors. Horse riding is popular in La Marquesa National Park with a number of equestrian friendly trails open to the public. There are also facilities in the area where horses can be rented. The Valley of Silence is located very near here and today has seen a lot of development with a number of things now offered including food, shopping, and even amusement rides and games.
Lagunas de Zempoala National Park
One of the main attractions to Lagunas de Zempoala National Park are the large number of extinct volcanic craters that are found there. These extinct volcanic craters over the years have become filled with water and now appear as interestingly formed lakes, many of which provide drinking water to the surrounding towns and villages. This park is a real oddity and something for those interested in nature to see should they find themselves in the area.
Cumbres de Monterrey National Park
The primary activity participated in by those coming to Cumbres de Monterrey National Park is rock climbing. This park was created in 1939 and covers more than 600,000 acres of land. There are a number of hiking trails that meander through the area, but the big draw are the many peaks that are climbable by experienced climbers. These peaks include four that are above 6,000 feet including Crest of the Eagle, the Antennas, the Window, and M East.
Lagunas de Chacahua National Park
Founded in 1937, Lagunas de Chacahua National Park is a large park that includes three famous lagoons including Laguna de Chacahua, Laguna de La Pastoria, and Laguna Las Salinas. The park offers a great variety in vegetation, much of it found in distinctive areas. There are also a number of smaller lagoons in the area too. Boat tours, wildlife viewing, and a stop at a local crocodile nursery are some of the many options for recreation in the area.
Isla Contoy National Park
One of the newest national parks in Mexico is Isla Contoy National Park. This island sits off the coast of Mexico in the state of Quintana Roo. It is very small and has been a protected area since the early 1960s. Visitation to the island is allowed, though advanced permission is needed, and then there are a few tour companies that run visitors out there. Law specifies that the island shall receive no more than two hundred visitors a day and there are no overnight accommodations. One of the biggest draws to the island are the four different kinds of turtles that can be found there; the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, leatherback turtle, and loggerhead turtle all call the island home. Bird watchers are in luck as the island has more than one hundred and fifty species of birds that have been seen there.
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While there are many other more famous attractions and reasons to travel to Mexico, the national parks that are found there are a more than worthwhile reason to go or sight to see once the trip has already been made. The many national parks in the Mexican park system, those listed above as well as the many others, are all great slices of the natural world that can be found south of the border but is most often overlooked. Visiting Mexico is a great idea for a fun and exciting vacation, but to enjoy it to its fullest means to get out and sample the local communities and countryside. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to visit the many national parks that the nation of Mexico offers for the enjoyment of both its residents as well as the tourists who come there.