There are 67 national parks in Mexico, covering the areas of 23 states. The majority of national parks are in the district of Ciudad de Mexico (9), followed by Quintana Roo (6), Estado de Mexico (5) and Michoacán (5). The oldest national park is Desierto de Los Leones, established in 1917. The newest parks are Islas Marietas and San Lorenzo Archipelago, established in 2005, and Revillagigedo Islands National Park which was declared a national park in 2017.
Six national parks are UNESCO World Heritage Sites and seven are on UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve list. National parks in Mexico are very diverse, from maritime parks full of bright colours to misty, green, montane scenery. Finally, Mexico has a rich history and biodiversity, so there is a lot to see, discover and learn.
The further text will present you with all the national parks in Mexico, entrance fees, as well as a map for easier navigation.
Table of Contents
National Parks in Mexico by States
Mexico is rich with diverse national parks that spread throughout 23 of the 31 states. The national parks range from very small parks within the cities to vast, untamed nature shared between two or three states. Only eight Mexican states have no national parks and those are: Aguascalientes, Campeche, Durango, Guanajuato, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco and Tamaulipas.
Below is the list of national parks by states in alphabetical order.
Baja California National Parks (4)
Constitution 1857 National Park
The Mexican federal government established this park in 1962, and its name honours the Constitution of Mexico. It is nestled in the northern part of Baja California, in the Sierra de Juarez mountain range. The magnificent pine tree forest is in an awe-inspiring contrast with the surrounding desert imagery. However, the biggest attraction in the park is the beautiful Laguna Hanson. Regarding activities, camping and walking are the visitor’s favourites. There are several camping sites in the park. But, if you prefer something more comfortable and cozy, you can rent a cabin instead.
Revillagigedo Islands National Park
The youngest Mexican national park was declared in 2017 and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a destination that requires a multiple-day trip, and visitors can access the islands only by boat. The islands are sometimes nicknamed Little Hawai’i or Little Galapagos. By all means, it is an area full of endemic species, fascinating marine underwater life, and an adventure those who visit the islands rarely forget. However, the park is especially attractive to divers, as the water is full of colourful creatures, manta rays and whale sharks. Yet, the park isn’t extremely popular among tourists as some of the other maritime Mexican parks are, but it is a gem worth exploring.
Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park
At almost 3000 meters above sea level, Sierra de San Pedro Mártir National Park is a perfect getaway place. The park is notable for the National Astronomical Observatory and Picacho del Diablo peak. Furthermore, the peak is also known as The Devil’s Peak and it is the highest one in Baja California, in the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir mountain range. The National Astronomical Observatory is the second biggest observatory in Latin America and home to Mexico’s largest optical telescope. Of course, if you wish to spend a night in the park you can do so by camping or booking a bed in a cabin. As for other activities, you can try hiking and stargazing.
San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park
The stunning maritime national park mainly protects the marine life of the Gulf of California. Particularly, the rich ecosystem of underwater life includes several endangered species. The park area includes several islands in the San Lorenzo Archipelago, hence the name. The remote and uninhabited islands are San Lorenzo, Las Animas, Salsipuedes, Rasa and Partida. Although the islands are nowadays uninhabited, the researchers found traces of human presence dating back to the prehistoric era. Anyway, visitors can reach the archipelago by boat and enjoy various boat excursions.
Baja California Sur National Parks (2)
Bahía de Loreto National Park
Bahía de Loreto National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of course, those who visit it have no trouble understanding why. Namely, the landscape of this maritime national park is enchanting. The many shades of blue sea, the white sand beaches, and the colourful underwater life make an unforgettable sight. Furthermore, the park consists of five main islands: Isla Coronados, Isla de Carmen, Isla Donzante, Isla Monserrat and Isla Santa Catarina. Furthermore, the area is abundant with islets and corals. The park can be accessed only by boat, and visitors can enjoy sailing, boating and catamaran excursions. In addition, visitors can try snorkelling, diving, and camping.
Cabo Pulmo National Park
Cabo Pulmo National Park is the third national park on this list in the Gulf of California and the second UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is home to one of the three oldest coral reefs in North America. Jacques Cousteau once described it as ‘the aquarium of the world’. Admittedly, he wasn’t wrong – the waters are rich with sea life such as sea turtles, sea lions, corals and many types of fish. Visitors enjoy diving and snorkelling near the awe-inspiring coral reef. Thus, the park is paradise on Earth and some might wish to spend more time there. Those who decide to do so can camp in the park or sleep in one of the park cabins. However, the facilities within the park are rare, and it is recommended that you bring your supplies.
Ciudad de Mexico National Parks (9)
Cerro de la Estrella National Park
The park is centred on the Cerro de la Estrella mountain. Its territory lies completely within Mexico City, with a size of under 200 hectares. Interestingly, it is a location of culture and nature. The park protects the flora and fauna of the mountain. Furthermore, it is an important archaeological and historical site. The Aztec New Fire ceremony, in the past performed every 52 years, took place here. However, archaeological remains include Aztec and Teotihuacan temples. Nowadays, the Passion Play of Iztapalapa is performed on the mountain. Likewise, visitors can enjoy numerous picnic areas, hiking, running and the stunning viewpoint that overlooks the city.
Cumbres del Ajusco National Park
The lava dome that the national park is centred around proudly stands south of Mexico City. It is a part of the Sierra de Ajusco-Chichinautzin mountain range and the highest point in the city. Nevertheless, the park is famous for its rich ecosystem and its pine-oak green forests. Consequently, it is sometimes referred to as ‘The Lungs of Mexico City’. Moreover, it is also where the Balasas and the Lerma rivers spring, providing water for many living creatures in the park. Visitors can enjoy hiking to the top, walking through the park or having a picnic. Facilities include restaurants and quesadilla stands. Furthermore, those who wish to spend the night in the park can camp or stay in park cabins.
Desierto de los Leones National Park
Despite its name, Desierto de los Leones is neither a desert nor a place where you are likely to see lions. In fact, it makes up 15% of the Valley of Mexico and it is a beloved getaway location. The park and its forest are a part of the Sierra de los Cruces mountain range, offering somewhat colder temperatures to their visitors. Additionally, the area is ideal for mountain cycling, hiking and walking with several trails ranging from moderate to difficult. Possibly the most famous location within the park is the 17th-century convent. The large, mystical-looking building surrounded by the deep green forest is a must-visit for everyone. Also, facilities in the park include several restaurants, food stands and toilets.
El Histórico Coyoacán National Park
El Historico Coyoacán National Park is a peaceful green area in the heart of Mexico City. The park is home to various endemic species, tall eucalyptus trees, cute squirrels who roam around many other wonderful animals and plants. Therefore, it is a space of peace and quiet in an otherwise bustling, lively metropolis. Consequently, the park is a popular destination among runners and joggers. However, many people also come here to unwind and relax. Bringing a good book to read in the shade of trees and having a picnic are some of the relaxing activities. The park is notable for its plant nursery. Facilities include several restaurants, shops and a parking area. However, those with pets should keep in mind that dogs are not allowed in the park.
El Tepeyac National Park
This national park, situated in Sierra de Guadalupe mountain range and centred around Tepeyac Hill, has a long history of religious importance. In pre-colonial times, it was a place where the Aztecs worshipped Tonatzin, the mother goddess. Nowadays it is believed that it is where the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego. Furthermore, the park is also famous for its stunning views of the Valley of Mexico. Visitors come here for walking, running and hiking trails. However, El Tepeyac also has a reputation of being somewhat dangerous. Although that shouldn’t discourage you from visiting, taking a guide and being extra careful and aware of your surroundings would be a good idea.
El Tepozteco National Park
The park is shared between Ciudad de Mexico and Morelos state. It protects 16 mountains – some are part of Sierra de Tepoztlán and some of Sierra Chichinautzin. However, the highest peak in the mountain is that of Chichinautzin volcanic mountain. The field surrounding the volcano occasionally welcomes visitors looking for an intact nature, but it is not the main attraction of the park as that title belongs to the Temple of Tepoztecatl in Morelos state. Not only is the ancient temple dedicated to the Aztec god of pulque (an alcoholic beverage), drunkenness and fertility, but is also attracts thousands of tourists every year. Of course, hiking is the most popular activity. Also, most facilities can be found at the foot of the mountain, and they include souvenir shops, restaurants and toilets.
Fuentes Brotantes de Tlalpan National Park
This charming national park was established in 1936. It is popular among both local and foreign visitors, as it has many restaurants and picnic areas. The beautiful green scenery is composed of trees and their reflections in a lake rich with life. The lake is filled with water that flows from the springs in the national park located at the foot of Sierra del Ajusco. Even more, the trails in the park leading to the springs are surrounded by stunning nature. People come here to walk, jog or spend some quality time with family and friends. In addition, restaurants offer traditional Mexican food, and quesadillas seem to be among visitor favourites.
La Marquesa National Park
La Marquesa is a national park ideal for a day trip. It borders Desierto de los Leones National Park. As a result, the two parks are ideal for those who wish to explore everything that national parks in Mexico City offer to their visitors. Although to some it might seem a little bit out of reach since it is located near the highway, the trip is well worth it. For instance, the park is very family-friendly and offers many activities. They include horseback riding, hiking, go-cart and zip lines. Besides, it is also possible to rent a quad or a canoe for a slightly different experience. The food offer is also wide, as there are several traditional Mexican restaurants.
Lomas de Padierna National Park
Although the park is quite small in size – taking up less than 35 hectares – Lomas de Padierna is as important as other national parks in Mexico City. The park is a part of the Cerro del Judio ecological reserve and is a habitat for many animals and plants. Due to its location in the mountains, the park is ideal for hiking. Therefore, biology and nature enthusiasts will enjoy the diversity of plants and animals in the park. Furthermore, the area surrounding the park is also stunning. Cerro del Judio holds a stunning archaeological site. Moreover, the 1200 years old Otomi pyramid is a popular, stunning tourist attraction one should visit if in the region.
Chiapas National Parks (3)
Cañón del Sumidero National Park
The large territory of Cañón del Sumidero National Park is mostly covered in rainforest. However, what it is famous for is the stunning river canyon it was named after. In fact, Cañón del Sumidero is a wonder of nature often compared to the Grand Canyon in the US. Visitors of the park can decide to take a guided boat and hiking tours or decide to venture out on their own. The tall cliffs beaming with fauna, waterfalls, caves and diverse wildlife amaze hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. For example, crocodiles, spider monkeys and iguanas are only some of the animals that can be seen during the tour. Facilities in the park include snack bars, food stands and toilets.
Lagunas de Montebello National Park
Situated on the border with Guatemala, this national park with 59 lakes is a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve. The stunning colours of lakes are in various shades of blues and greens. Visitors can explore the park by taking a guided tour, but those who wish to explore the park at their own pace can explore it with a car (personal or rented). Likewise, the marvellous ruins of the old Mayan city are a notable attraction. Chinkultic was a pre-Columbian city, and the ruins include nearly 200 buildings. The pyramid undoubtedly stands out, as the view from it is spectacular. Of course, those who wish to take more time to explore the park can spend the night in one of the park accommodation options. Restaurants offer traditional Mexican foods. In addition, activities available include horseback riding, paddling, and kayaking.
Palenque National Park
The ancient Mayan city-state is one of the most enchanting and stunning sites in Chiapas. The oldest ruins date back to the 3rd century B.C., and the city reached its peak in the 5th century before perishing in the 7th century. However, the city saw its demise long before the Europeans arrived, and the ruins were for centuries covered by thick trees of the surrounding rainforest. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site described as an “incomparable achievement of Mayan art.” Although it’s not as vast and as popular as Chichen Itza, Palenque is an unforgettable location and a testament to the Mayan mythology and culture. Visitors can hike through the jungle, take a guided tour of the location or camp at a family-friendly campsite within the park.
Chihuahua National Parks (2)
Basaseachic Falls National Park
The park was named after the magical Cascada de Basaseachic, the second tallest waterfall in Mexico. Hence, it is an ideal park for nature, photography and travel enthusiasts. It is nestled in the heart of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range. Nevertheless, visitors must hike to get to the fall, and the hiking trail is quite long. However, the stunning, tall waterfall resembles a piece of paradise and is worth the long walk. Its beauty is mesmerizing, but the scenery would not be complete without surrounding, gigantic cliffs. Additionally, facilities within the park are scarce and are mostly found near the entrance. Furthermore, visitors can buy food at the food stands in the parking lots.
Cumbres de Majalca National Park
The park north of Chihuahua State capital is well-known for its fascinating rock formations. The rocks are of volcanic origin and were shaped by centuries of rain and wind erosion. For instance, among the rock formations are pine and oak trees. The scenery combined with the desert nature of Chihuahua state creates unique landscapes, hectares and hectares of beautiful land to explore. Consequently, the park is immensely popular among the locals, especially those who enjoy hiking, rock climbing and camping. Besides, the camping area in the park and the lodges are ideal for those who wish to take their time exploring and enjoying all the wonders of the park.
Coahuila National Parks (1)
Los Novillos National Park
Los Novillos is a remote national park in the Mexican state Coahuila, near the border with the US. The park is an oasis in an otherwise semi-desert, dry area. It is characterized by its beautiful oak and walnut forest. Generally speaking, the park is also notable for its crystal-clear, fresh springs. Furthermore, it is an area important for its natural beauty, but also for the biodiversity that is not often found in Coahuila. For example, the flora, among walnut and oak trees, includes beautiful willows and many different animal species. The locals from the nearby cities often visit the park, especially during holidays, and visitors can enjoy many activities. Swim in the crystal-clear, refreshing spring water, have a relaxing picnic in the shade of the trees, camp for a night or take a boat ride during your visit.
Colima National Parks (1)
Volcán Nevado de Colima National Park
The territory of this magnificent park is shared between the states of Colima and Jalisco. It protects two volcanic mountains: Volcan de Colima, also known as Volcan de Fuego, and Nevada de Colina. While Nevada de Colima has been dormant for several years, Volcan de Colima is the most active volcano in Mexico. The road to the snow-capped mountain peaks is a long hike surrounded by rich nature. Undoubtedly, pine and oak forest combined with a view of volcanoes make this park seem as if it were trapped in time. In addition, the park adjoins two other protected areas: El Jabali Flora and Fauna Protection area and Bosque Mesofilo Nevado de Colima State Park. The most popular activities are hiking, camping and photography.
Estado de Mexico National Parks (7)
Bosencheve National Park
Shared by the states of Michoacan and Mexico, this national park is a significant water reserve and regulator for the area. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked by tourists, mostly because there are no facilities within the park or organized activities. However, the main goal of the park is the protection of water; the two lakes and several streams. The two lakes, Lago Verde and Lago Seca are formed by rainfall. As a result, Lago Seca disappears in the dry season. Nonetheless, the before mentioned streams flow through the pine and oak forest, and the area is filled with magnificent wildlife. Activities include hiking, camping, animal watching and picnicking.
Desierto del Carmen National Park
Although the park bears the name of a desert, it is not due to the climate of the area. In fact, the reason for that lies in the fact that it was a place of retreat for the Carmelite order. Situated in the Transversal Volcanic System, on the slopes of Sierra del Carmen, Desierto del Carmen is a land detached from the contemporary world. Certainly, its most notable location is a convent dating from the 18th century, surrounded by pine, oak and eucalyptus forest. Undoubtedly, the famous viewpoints in the park are Balcon de Diablo, Balcon de San Miguel and Balcón de San Elias overlooking the Malinalco and Tenango Valleys. Activities include camping and hiking. Moreover, the park has several restaurants and souvenir shops.
Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park
Centered around the second and third-highest peaks in Mexico, Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park offers a unique experience. Besides being a part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the two mountains – Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl – are also two famous volcanoes. According to a local legend, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl were originally two lovers whose love had a tragic end. However, there are several versions of the story, but they all agree on one thing: the gods turned the two into mountains so they could be together forever. While Iztaccihuatl is a dormant volcano, Popocatepetl is a stratovolcano and thus hiking on its mountain is forbidden. The park territory spreads into three different states: Mexico, Puebla and Morelos. In addition, visitors can camp in the park and enjoy several restaurants.
Lagunas de Zempoala National Park
The beautiful park protects seven lagoons: Zempoala, Compola, Tonatihua, Seca, Ocoyotongo, Quita and Hueyapan. Although three lagoons are permanent, two have seasonal waters. Of course, the park is very popular among visitors from all over the world who come here to enjoy the unspoiled nature. Moreover, the lagoons are surrounded by meadows and deep green forests and make a perfect location for various activities. Those who wish to explore the area differently can go horseback riding or paddle on the water. Many visitors enjoy barbecue and picnics in the park. However, if you prefer someone else to prefer your food and enjoy local delicacies, several food stands offer traditional Mexican meals.
Los Remedios National Park
Los Remedios is a relatively small park northwest of Mexico City. It houses several important archaeological and historical sites. Namely, these include the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Los Remedios, an aqueduct dating from the Colonial era and an ancient Chichimeca temple. Interestingly, the park has been of significance for hundreds of years. The aqueduct is a witness of a period in which the area was used to bring water to the nearby settlements. Furthermore, the temple and the sanctuary prove their spiritual importance. Additionally, it was also an Aztec observatory. Nowadays, the park serves as a rest, relaxation and recreation area, especially for families with children. Basketball court and playground are some of many facilities.
Nevado de Toluca National Park
This national park southwest of Toluca is centred around Nevado de Toluca volcano. The park territory in nearly its entirety covers the volcano itself. Nevado de Toluca, also known as Xinantécatl, is not only the 4th highest peak in Mexico but also a territory of fantastic natural beauty. Additionally, the dormant volcano is famous for its two stunning lagoons. The turquoise water of the lagoons is often surrounded by white snow, a sight that makes them popular among visitors. Of course, the area and the terrain are ideal for hiking. However, due to the altitude and sometimes challenging terrain hiking alone is not recommended to inexperienced hikers.
Molino de Flores Nezahualcoyotl National Park
Although it might not be a park you visit to enjoy unspoiled nature, Molino de Flores is a national park well worth visiting. It is a former hacienda – a plantation – with a rich and interesting history as well as beautiful architecture. With the arrival of the Spanish, it became a hacienda that produced pulque and flour. However, the key figure of the period was undoubtedly Miguel de Cervantes y Velasco. It should be noted that he initiated the construction of the chapels and the famous Flower Mill in the park. Nowadays, visitors can enjoy guided tours of the park, horseback riding and delicious food offered by the food vendors and restaurants in the food area.
Guerrero National Parks (3)
El Veladero National Park
The sight of a mountain rising above the sea is seldom a bad one, and El Veladero National Park is no exception. The park was designated to protect the Cerro El Veladero mountain and the Acapulco Bay. Namely, a notable site within the park is Palma Sola archaeological site, a location with eighteen granite rocks with petroglyphs. The dates back to 800 B.C. and the petroglyphs describe the way of life lead by the population of the time. However, the park surrounds Acapulco, the famous port and beach resort. Unfortunately, due to the city’s infamous reputation that is a result of gang wars, as well as little effort put into making the park accessible to tourists, El Veladero National Park does not attract many visitors.
General Juan N. Alvarez Natural Park
The park bears the name of an important figure in Mexican history, of a general and former president Juan N. Alvarez. It is situated in the Sierra Made del Sur mountain range, in the mountain region northwest of Chiapa del Alvarez. The park landscape is formed by pine and oak forests stretching along the mountain slopes and the Atzacualoya and the Mezcala rivers. Furthermore, the wildlife one can encounter includes mostly mammals and birds, but there are no endemic species in the park. Even though facilities and activities are scarce, the area represents a location of peace, quiet and nature not too far from urban life.
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa is one of the largest cave systems in the world, and one of the big tourist attractions in Mexico. The caves were formed in the limestone by two rivers over thousands of years, and both still flow through the complex. Additionally, the park also protects another, albeit smaller cave system – Grutas de Carlos Pacheco. Walking through the tunnels is possible for hours on end, and the tunnels formed by San Jeronimo and Chontalcoatian rivers never lose their breathtaking, magical beauty. Along with caving and cave tours, visitors can enjoy rock climbing, rappelling, and camping. Furthermore, the park also includes a botanical garden presenting the area’s native flora.
Hidalgo National Parks (3)
El Chico National Park
El Chico is one of the oldest protected natural areas in Mexico. It was declared a protected area in 1898 but became a national park much later. The aim is to preserve the ancient conifer forests which are believed to have been the same since the Cambrian. Along with conifer forests, the park nestles pine, oak and juniper trees. Moreover, the park is situated in the Pachuca mountain range and houses several springs that provide waters for many rivers and streams. As a result, the area is rich with beautiful, buzzing waterfalls. Visitors can hike through the park, take a stroll through the forests, or enjoy various family activities.
Los Marmoles National Park
This national park is a part of the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, close to a town called Zimapan. The area is covered by various forests: pine-oak forests, juniper forests and mixed forests. Unfortunately, the park doesn’t cater to tourists and little effort has been made to attract visitors. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that there are no facilities within the park. However, that is not to say that Los Marmoles doesn’t attract visitors. Hiking and nature enthusiasts come here to explore the unspoilt beauty, and many of them climb the highest hill to see the famous magnetic stone.
Tula National Park
Tula is an archaeological site and a monument to the ancient Native American civilizations. The ancient Tula was the capital of the Toltec Empire, and the city allegedly reached its peak from 850 until 1150 A.D. Nowadays, the remains include three pyramids, a palace, warrior statues and columns. For instance, the Jorge M. Acosta Museum and the Orientation Centre in the park offer details about the history of the site. While the Orientation Centre is more focused on providing information and historical facts about the site, the museum displays various remains belonging to the Toluca civilization. However, some parts of the city’s history remain a mystery, which makes the park a perfect destination for visitors who wish to learn something new and those who thirst for stories.
Michoacan National Parks (6)
Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park
Barranca del Cupatitzio is a national park that protects the headwaters of the Cupatitzio river. It is where several streams and smaller rivers meet, forming a river with breathtaking cascades and waterfalls. Thus, the park has several trails and many bridges that enable visitors to cross the river and explore nature. Of course, the main assets of the park are its clean, crystal clear water and accessibility. There are also many different facilities on the park grounds, from food and drink vendors to souvenirs and art shops. Even though the park is family-friendly and might sound boring to adrenaline enthusiasts, there is an adventurous sport available: ziplining. Gliding through the forest with numerous beautiful waterfalls below you is an unforgettable experience.
Bosencheve National Park
*The park is shared between the states Michoacan and Estado de Mexico.
Cerro de Garnica National Park
Cerro de Garnica is not a park that is frequented by recreational visitors or tourists. In fact, the park is a part of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and protects the valleys and the peaks of Sierra de Mil Cumbres. It is not too far away from the highway and has several roads that mostly connect the surrounding towns and villages. However, the infrastructure of the park is untended and nearly non-existent. Aside from the roads through the park that limit the number of vehicles that can enter it, there are no facilities and programs attracting tourists. However, the rare visitors are amazed by the imagery of Cerro de Garnica. The rainy season brings moss and fungi, creating a fairy-tale, lost-in-the-wild atmosphere.
Insurgente José María Morelos y Pavón National Park
The national park is one of the several parks in the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. Insurgente Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon is a family-friendly park covering 7 thousand hectares in Sierra de Mil Cumbres. The park protects several mountains, rivers and valleys that make a beloved destination for those who wish to spend quality time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Furthermore, visitors can enjoy various activities, and the most popular are horseback riding, ziplining and hiking. Facilities also include restaurants and a barbecue area.
Lago de Camécuaro National Park
Albeit rather small, this picturesque national park is a location to enjoy all day long. It is centred around Lake Camécuaro, a body of crystal clear water from which magnificent and tall trees emerge. It’s no wonder that it attracts many photographers; the scenery, a combination of greens and blues and browns, is very fairytale-like year-round. Furthermore, it attracts hundreds and thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the gem of untouched nature. Visitors of the park can enjoy various food and drinks prepared at the nearby restaurants, swim in the refreshing water, enjoy a boat ride and buy various souvenirs to remember their visit. Of course, camping in the park is also a possibility.
Rayón National Park
The territory of this national park was once owned by the López Rayón brothers, and the park bears their name to honour them. The brothers – Ignacio, Ramon, Rafael and Francisco – were important figures in the Mexican war for independence. However, beautiful, deep green conifer trees, along with the historically important Cerro del Gallo. The forests serve as a home for many different animal and plant species, including several endemic species. However, the tourist infrastructure in the park is not very well developed. For that reason, it is not very frequented by tourists. Rather, it is visited by hikers and people who wish to explore the not-so-popular parts of Mexico.
Morelos National Parks (3)
El Tepozteco National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Morelos and Ciudad de México.
Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Morelos, Estado de Mexico and Puebla.
Lagunas de Zempoala National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Morelos and Estado de Mexico.
Nayarit National Parks (2)
Isla Isabel National Park
The remote island is a destination for anyone who wishes to experience a life without any contact with the outside world. Isla Isabel National Park is protected by law due to the significance it has for many bird species, mainly in the breeding aspect of their life. This is why the island is completely uninhabited: there are no restaurants, cafes or restrooms and visitors are encouraged to bring their own food or book a tour that offers it. However, its remoteness offers a unique, fascinating experience. Hiking, diving and snorkelling in this national park are nothing like anywhere else in the world. In addition, visitors must keep in mind that there is a possibility of having to spend a night on the island due to weather conditions.
Isla Marietas National Park
Isla Marietas is a destination extremely popular with tourists due to its stunning beauty. The group of volcanic-origin islands serves as a home for various bird species, and its turquoise waters hide enchanting sea life. However, the beautiful rocks rising from the waves and the green land are inaccessible to tourists. That is, except for one beach that can only be reached during a low tide. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop people from visiting. Many are satisfied with snorkelling, diving, kayaking and swimming. Since coral reefs, sea turtles, dolphins and beautiful colourful fish are not a rare occurrence in these waters, many come to the islands in hopes of seeing them.
Nuevo Leon National Parks (2)
Cumbres de Monterrey National Park
The national park in the Sierra Madre Occidental is a green paradise near the city of Monterrey. The magnificent mountain slopes are covered with pine and oak forests, with many rivers and streams rushing down the mountains. Moreover, the forests are beaming with wildlife, from mammals to various birds such as parrots. Notable locations within the park include the famous Huasteca Canyon, an area of stunning limestone formations and deserted land, and the Cola de Caballo waterfall. Of course, the sheer size of the park provides enough area for walking, hiking and biking. The different sceneries ensure that visitors can never get bored of its beauty.
El Sabinal National Park
Another relatively small national park that despite its size has a lot to offer. Similar to Lago de Camécuaro, it is a park where visitors can enjoy their entire day relaxing or participating in different activities. The park is oriented towards education and preservation of nature, which is why they offer various workshops for children and adults alike. Due to its educational aspect, the park has several replicas of various historic monuments from all over the world. For example, visitors can see the replicas of Egyptian pyramids. However, it also offers many recreational activities, a good afternoon grill while the children play at the playgrounds.
Oaxaca National Parks (3)
Benito Juarez National Park
Benito Juarez is another one in a category of montane national parks in Mexico. It protects the nature and life of Cerro de Felipe, a part of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, and two streams that provide water for the area. The rivers Huayapan and San Felipe are not only crucial for the citizens of Oaxaca, but also for many different animals that inhabit them – mainly different species of frogs and fish. Additionally, the park is covered in pine and conifer forests and it serves as a beloved place for running away from the city environment. Although there aren’t many tourist-oriented facilities, visitors who come to the park can enjoy hiking, cycling, and for those more adventurous – ziplining.
Huatulco National Park
This national park is unique for its proximity of rainforest environment to the outstanding tropical beaches and turquoise sea. Huatulco was declared a national park in order to preserve the richness of the mainland and maritime life in the area – iguanas, turtles, dolphins, and many different endemic species. Even though the area is nowadays uninhabited, one can find an archaeological site and traces of human settlement over a thousand years old. However, there are many restaurants in the area that have delicious food – and most of them are on the most popular beaches. Visitors can enjoy hiking through the rainforest or swimming and snorkelling in the enchantingly turquoise water.
Lagunas de Chacahua National Park
Lagunas de Chacahua owes its name to one of the lagoons it is centered around, Laguna de Chacahua. The park consists of the coastal and the aquatic area, both offering different and exciting experiences. The lagoons are diverse and rich in history and tradition. For instance. there are over 150 bird and over 180 amphibian species populating the park. Furthermore, visitors can enjoy different boat tours, learn about the interesting local fishing customs, or simply relax at the beach. The coastal part of the park is a famous surfer attraction, and people can try out their surfing skills. Additionally, the sunsets in this park are also remarkable – the imagery of the sinking red sunlight on the soft sand is unforgettable.
Puebla National Parks (3)
Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Morelos, Estado de Mexico and Puebla.
La Malinche National Park
The park, shared by the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala, is centred around the dormant volcano of the same name. The volcano is also the 6th highest mountain in Mexico and it is a beautiful location difficult to conquer. Interestingly, the lower altitudes are covered in forests, which provide shelter from the sun and a very pleasant beginning of the hike. However, at higher elevations the scenery changes. While the lower slopes of the mountain are decorated with forests, the higher altitude brings naked rock and different weather without any trees blocking the views. Although there aren’t many tourist facilities, visitors can buy food and drink at the beginning of the hiking trail.
Pico de Orizaba National Park
Pico de Orizaba is a dormant volcano and the highest mountain in Mexico. The scenery of the park changes as the altitudes get higher and go from friendly and welcoming soil to the unbeatable, cold glaciers at the top. The volcano was last active in the 19th century. Since then, it has attracted many hikers and geologists wishing to explore its stunning, albeit somewhat frightening beauty. In fact, the Aztecs called it Citlaltépetl, a word that in their language stands for “the star mountain”. And rightfully so; as the mountain cuts through the clouds and towards the sky, it is difficult not to think that its peak might be touching the stars. Activities include hiking and mountain biking, but the area is also ideal for nature photographers.
Quintana Roo National Parks (6)
Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park
The coast of the Arrecifes de Cozumel itself is not the real beauty of its park. It is barren and white, and while there is a charm to it, it is surely not the reason why Arrecifes de Cozumel is such a visitor-favorite. However, underwater life is the gem, the heart and the soul of this national park. That is, Arrecifes de Cozumel protects the southern part of the Cozumel coral reef, the second largest coral reef in the world. Under the bright blue ocean surface typical for the Caribbean lies an underwater paradise. As a result, divers will be amazed by the rich colours of the corals and the abundance of marine life. Sea turtles, dolphins, manta rays and colourful tropical fish are not a rarity here. It is truly a treasure one has to be ready to dive into, but it is completely worth it.
Arrecife de Puerto Morelos National Park
The stunning coral reef the park was named after is a part of the Great Barrier Reef in the Caribbean part of the Atlantic Ocean. Situated on and in front of the Yucatan coast, the park’s preservation program is not only designated to protect just the coral reef. In addition to that, it encompasses a large portion of the coastal line, protecting the beaches turtles use for breeding and hatching. The local population is also invested in protecting the environment, but it also depends on tourism and the visitors that the reef and the beaches attract. Visitors can dive and snorkel in the crystal clear ocean if they wish to explore the colourful underwater life. However, there are beaches for swimming and enjoying the sun for those who prefer a more laid-back experience.
Arrecifes de Xcalak National Park
The aquamarine, sunbathed waves brushing over the soft white sand are the first scenery that welcomes visitors of Xcalak National park, a ‘welcome’ sign to the area straight out of paradise. The vast park protects the coral reef proudly standing in the shallow waters just off the coast as well as several lagoons and beaches in the area. In fact, the shallowness of the reef makes the area ideal for snorkelling for anyone who wishes to see its beauty in its full potential. Due to the reef’s geographical location, high waves rarely pose a threat in this area. Moreover, it is quite safe for children and adults alike. Those who wish to relax on the soft sand or swim in the warm aquamarine sea will be delighted to know that there are beaches that welcome such activities.
Costa Occidental de Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancún y Punta Nizuc National Park
Costa Occidental is another national park that is centred around a part of the Great Barrier Reef in the Caribbean waters of Mexico. The park is divided into three different areas, all bearing the name of the coast in front of which they are located – Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancún and Punta Nizuc. The sea is turquoise, warm and crystal clear. Therefore, visitors can have a peek at what awaits them under the surface as they make their way to the park. Although the overall imagery of the coast is made up of carbon stones and quite barren, the beaches are beautiful. Hence, they are a perfect destination to rest and soak up the experience after snorkelling and diving. However, visitors are asked not to use sunscreen as it can cause damage to the reef.
Isla Contoy National Park
Isla Contoy is a pearl comfortably nestled on the merging of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. The gorgeous national park is in its function primarily a bird sanctuary, as Isla Contoy is the most important nesting location in the Mexican Caribbean. The scenery of the island is made up of soft white sand, turquoise sea, green bushes and tall palm trees. However, only 200 visitors are allowed daily for preservation reasons. In addition, the park can be visited only through organized tours with special permission. Visitors can enjoy guided tours, walking trails, snorkelling and bird watching. Sunscreen is prohibited as it damages the ecosystem.
Tulum National Park
The national park protects the ruins of Tulum, a pre-Columbian, fortified Mayan city on the coast of Yucatan. The fascinating ruins are remains of the former, significant port city on the Caribbean sea which was, due to its geographical position, an important trade point. However, the ruins as they stand today proudly sit on the cliffs overlooking the soft sand beach and shivering turquoise waves beneath them. Furthermore, it is a destination popular among tourists from nearby resorts. The park offers guided tours through the ruins for those who wish to learn more about their history. However, those who wish to explore the area on their own are free to do so. Facilities also include food and drink vendors.
Queretaro National Parks (2)
Cerros de Las Campanas National Park
The Hill of the Bells is a national park that holds a significant place in Mexican history. It is where Emperor Maximillian I and his generals, Miguel Miramon and Tomas Mejia were executed. In addition, the complete territory of the park is within the boundaries of Ciudad Queretaro, making it a green oasis in the middle of the city jungle. Hence why the park is an ideal destination for those who wish to spend several hours surrounded by trees and nature, all the while not stepping a toe outside the city. There is also a museum in the park that showcases the history of the location, and a statue of Benito Juarez, an important Mexican president. With all that in mind, one can say that the park is an ideal destination for families with children and solo visitors alike.
El Cimatario National Park
The mountain that the park is centred around is a product of an extinct volcano. The remains of a former volcanic activity are still present in the area, with various volcanic rocks and soil covering the park territory. Nowadays, El Cimatario is a national park ideal for mountain biking, walking and hiking. Trails range from very short – around 3 kilometres – to quite long, stretching through the park for over 10 kilometres. Moreover, another important and attractive feature of the El Cimatario National Park are its caves. Consequently, visitors who wish to explore them can book guided tours through which you can learn more about them.
San Luis Potosi National Parks (2)
El Gogorron National Park
The park owes its name to the old Hacienda de Gogorron, formerly a farm that now serves as a picnic and recreational area. The park is in the valley between two mountains, Sierra de Bernalejo – a part of Sierra Madre Occidental – and La Cuesta. Through the valley flows the Altamira river, a source of clean water and an important part of the overall scenery. Interestingly, the park is a semi-desert, and its conditions form a basis for a wonderful experience. Nevertheless, hiking through the valley on dry land, surrounded by two proud mountains, and a river of freshwater near you is a wonderful experience. Another attraction of the park are its famous hot springs, which were turned into thermal baths that attract the visitors looking to use their health benefits.
El Potosi National Park
The vast territory of the El Potosi National Park is in Sierra de Rioverde, a mountain that is a part of the Sierra Madre Oriental. The mountain slopes are covered with pine and oak forests, offering a mixture of evergreen trees and the seasonal changes of nature’s colours. In fact, El Potosi offers shelter and home to many different plant and animal species, among which the bird stands out as most dependent on the environment. The services that the park offers are not traditional tourist attractions. Instead, it aims to protect the zone and offers non-intrusive activities. Some of them include walking through the park, photography and animal watching. Although the park does not offer regular amusement, it is well worth visiting.
Tlaxcala National Parks (2)
La Malinche National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Tlaxcala and Puebla.
Xicotencatl National Park
The park bears the name of a brave Tlaxcaltean warrior who bravely fought against the European invaders in the 15th century. Not to be confused with Parque Xicotencatl in Coyoacan, as the two are geographically and visually quite different. Xicotencatl National Park mainly protects the cultural heritage of the area. Namely, it protects the historical city centre of the City of Tlaxcala, as well as the archaeological sites of several surrounding municipalities. Hills Cerro Oztal and Cerro Tepenan surround the park and form the valley. The hills are rich in water, and the one that is the most important for the national park is the river Zahuapan. Truly, Xicohentacl has a little bit of something for everyone.
Veracruz National Parks (4)
Cañón del Río Blanco National Park
The park is centred around the upper part of the canyon forged by the Rio Blanco for thousands of years. The canyon passes through a part of Sierra Madre de Oaxaca and creates beautiful scenery. Particularly, the part of the canyon that the national park protects is filled with crystal clear, beautiful water and stunning waterfalls. Moreover, the park is equally beautiful coated in sunlight or in the thick mist which is not a rare occurrence. While the former allows visitors to experience the park in all of its glory, the mist adds to it a special layer of mystery and magic. When in the park, visitors can enjoy ziplining, visiting a museum or walking to the five viewpoints in the park.
Cofre de Perote National Park
The extinct volcano and the area surrounding it are the heart of the Cofre de Perote National Park. Cofre de Perote, a volcanic mountain, is covered in green pine and fir forests. Sadly, the park faces the threat of deforestation that is taking place despite government protection. The park attracts many hikers, but they are not the only and the dominant visitors. Although there are certain parts of the trail that might appear a bit difficult to conquer, the park is quite family-friendly and beginner-friendly. Besides the campsites and bathrooms at the foot of the mountain, there aren’t many facilities in the park so it is recommended that visitors bring their own food and water (and don’t leave the trash in the park!).
Pico de Orizaba National Park
*The park is shared between the states of Puebla and Veracruz
Veracruz Reef System National Park
A system made up of 17 coral reefs and 6 islands is a UNESCO-protected Biosphere Reserve. The park is divided into two parts. Firstly, the port of Veracruz numbers 7 reefs and 2 islands, and the port of Anton Lizardo numbers 12 reefs and 4 islands in total. The park is an area of sport fishing and tourism. Although tourism in the area is still relatively underdeveloped, especially sustainable eco-tourism, fishing is a sport the local community heavily relies on and depends on. Due to this and the industrial development in the area, the park’s ecosystem is endangered and must be protected.
Yucatan National Parks (2)
Arrecife Alacranes National Park
Arrecife Alacranes, or the Scorpion Reef, is a reef in the Gulf of Mexico, and the centre of the national park that bears its name. Additionally, the park protects a group of largely uninhabited islands. There are five larger islands, out of which only one – Isla Perez – is inhabited and has a lighthouse. There are no facilities on the islands in the park, so visitors depend on their own food supplies. However, there are many beautiful beaches, and magnificent, colourful marine life. There is also a possibility of spending the night in the huts if the visitors make arrangements with them in advance. Camping used to be allowed, but as of now is forbidden due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dzibilchaltún National Park
The park is centred around the archaeological site of the same name and Xlacah cenote, a water reservoir found in limestone areas. The remains of Dzibilchaltún belong to the Mayan late classical period and are proof of a 2000 year long settlement in the area. In addition, the ruins can be dated from 500 B.C. to 1600 A.D. Moreover, the ruins are surrounded by forest and jungle vegetation. As a result, the clashing colours of the ruins and their surroundings are ideal for photography enthusiasts. Visitors of the park can enjoy exploring the monuments of time and civilization long gone, have a picnic or enjoy various recreational activities.
Zacatecas National Parks (1)
Sierra de Organos National Park
The main features of this park are rock formations, to which the park owes its name. Nestled in the Sierra Madre Occidental, the rock formations resemble musical organs. The dominant trees in the park are conifer trees, but the overall imagery of it is more that of a scarce grassland rather than a rich forest. Apart from its notable and unique rock formations, the park is under protection because it is home to several endemic species of the area. Moreover, Sierra de Organos mostly attracts visitors eager for adventure and exploration. Rock climbing, hiking and cycling are among the most popular activities in the park. However, those who might be interested in spending the night in the park, camping or spending the night in the cabins are the two options available.
Mexico National Parks by size
National parks in Mexico cover an area of over 143 square kilometres or 3.5 million acres. The biggest national park is Arrecife Alacranes National Park, with a territory of over 3,3 thousand square kilometres. The following list includes the 10 largest national parks in Mexico and features 2 parks in Baja California, Veracruz and Estado de México.
- Arrecife Alacranes National Park (Yucatan)
- Bahia de Loreto National Park (Baja California Sur)
- Cumbres de Monterrey National Park (Nuevo León)
- Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park (Baja California)
- San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park (Baja California)
- Canon del Rio Bianco National Park (Veracruz)
- Veracruz Reef System National Park (Veracruz)
- Nevado de Toluca National Park (Estado de Mexico)
- Iztaccíhuatl Popocatépetl National Park (Estado de México; Morelos; Puebla)
- El Gogorron National Park (San Luis Potosi)
Entrance to National Parks in Mexico
There are currently over 180 Protected Natural Areas in Mexico, with national parks included. Entering these areas varies depending on the municipal and governmental policy as well as the status of the area. Although some parks can be entered without an entrance fee, most parks charge their visitors. The fees range from less than a dollar up to 100$ and even 450$ approximately, once again depending on the park type and services included in the price.
There are not many passes and discounts visitors can buy when visiting the national parks and other protected areas. However, there is one you can acquire. The Annual Conservation pass allows the holder to enter any national park or nature reserve, except for Galapagos and Revillagigedo Islands national parks. The annual pass can be bought for 75 USD$.
Map of Mexico National Parks
National Parks in Mexico FAQs
There are currently 67 national parks in Mexico.
The oldest national parks in Mexico are as follows: Desierto de Los Leones National Park (1917) and Iztaccíhuatl Popocatépetl National Park (1935).
The newest national park in Mexico is Revillagigedo Islands National Park which was declared a national park in 2017.
Although not many encounters in the Mexican national parks are dangerous or fatal, there are some areas where one should be more cautious. Such is El Tepeyac National Park in Ciudad de Mexico.
The states in Mexico that don’t have national parks are: Aguascalientes, Campeche, Durango, Guanajuato, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tabasco and Tamaulipas.
The state with the most national parks is Ciudad de Mexico that has 9 national parks in total.