Mexico has 67 national parks spread throughout the country in 23 different states. From Desierto de Los Leones, established in 1917, the oldest national park in Mexico, to Revillagigedo Islands National Park, the newest national park in Mexico, was established in 2017. Six of Mexico’s national parks are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, and seven are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves.
Preserving the extraordinary history, culture and biodiversity within Mexico is vital to the Mexican identity and economy. These national parks draw millions of visitors each year and provide the monetary and economic support necessary to protect these natural and historical wonders for future generations to enjoy.
- 20 National Parks In Mexico You Need To Visit
- National Parks In Quintana Roo
- National Parks In Baja California
- National Parks In Baja California Sur
- National Parks In The State of Mexico
- National Parks In Mexico City
- National Parks In Puebla
- National Parks In Hidalgo
- National Parks In Chiapas
- National Parks In Chihuahua
- National Parks In Guerrero
- National Parks In Nuevo Leon
- National Parks In Michoacan
- National Parks In Nayarit
20 National Parks In Mexico You Need To Visit
National Parks In Quintana Roo
1- Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park, Quintana Roo
Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park is located on the south side of Cozumel Island in the Caribbean Sea, close to the Riviera Maya.
This 120-square-kilometre (46 square miles) underwater national park protects the second largest coral reef in the world, the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
As one of the world’s best dive locations, snorkelers and divers that visit this park can see colourful corals, sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins, and many species of tropical fish, including the Cozumel splendid toadfish.
Several endangered marine species such as loggerhead and hawksbill sea turtles can be found here.
This park is within a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve called the Isla Cozumel Biosphere Reserve.
2- Isla Contoy National Park
Isla Contoy National Park is located north of Isla Mujeres, where the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico meet.
This 3-square-kilometre (1 square mile) island is probably the most important nesting place for ocean birds within the Mexican Caribbean.
Over 150 migrating and resident bird species use this island, including frigatebirds, brown pelicans and double-crested cormorants.
Sea turtles also nest on this ecologically important island.
Visitors to this park are limited to 200 per day.
Local biologists lead tours around the island and guests can hike, bird watch, visit the museum, shop for souvenirs and eat local seafood while visiting for the day.
3- Tulum National Park
Tulum National Park lies on the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
The pre-Hispanic ruins of Tulum, an important Mayan city, overlook a pristine white sand beach.
These ruins and the park’s natural areas are protected, but visitors can hike or bike around the park on marked paths, explore the ruins, relax on the beach and swim in the ocean.
Guided tours are available to people who want to know more about the park’s history, culture and ecology.
This 6.5-square-kilometre (2.5 square miles) park is one of Mexico’s most visited national parks.
For more adventures in Mexico, read:
- 20 Famous Landmarks in Mexico
- 20 Best Beaches in Mexico
- 20 Ways To Spend Christmas in Mexico
- 10 Things To Do In Baja California
- The Wonder of Chichen Itza
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Mexico?
- A Guide To Las Grutas De Tolantongo
- A Guide To Valle De Bravo
- 20 Best Cenotes In Mexico
- 20 Interesting Mexican Traditions
- 20 Mayan Ruins In Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In Monterrey Mexico
- 20 Things To Do In La Paz
- 20 Things To Do In Tijuana
- 20 Things To Do In Merida
- 20 Things To Do In Ensenada
- 20 Tulum Day Trips
- Where To Stay In Tulum
- 20 National Parks In Mexico
- 20 Day Trips From Mexico City
National Parks In Baja California
4- San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park
The San Lorenzo Marine Archipelago National Park was created to protect the diverse wildlife and fish species in the Gulf of California (Sea of Cortez).
San Lorenzo Island and the other small islands that form the archipelago are ecologically rich and vitally important to the health of the Gulf of California.
The national park status protects the fragile archipelago ecosystem that supports endangered sea turtles such as green, hawksbill and olive ridley as well as whales such as blue, sperm and humpbacks.
The shores of the archipelago also provide food for many fish species such as totoaba, hake and swordfish.
Hundreds of bird species nest on this archipelago, including brown pelicans, frigatebirds and golden eagles.
5- Revillagigedo Islands National Park
The Revillagigedo Islands National Park is the newest national park in Mexico, located south of the Baja California peninsula.
A UNESCO World Heritage site, Revillagigedo Islands became a national park in 2017 and lives up to its name of ‘Little Galapagos.’
Visiting this park requires multiple days of travel by boat, but it is a wonderful place for divers to experience.
This national park in Mexico protects one of the largest concentrations of large marine animals in North America, including whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, manta rays and humpback whales.
The park is 148,000 square kilometres (57,143 square miles) and is one of the largest marine reserves in North America.
National Parks In Baja California Sur
6- Cabo Pulmo National Park
Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cabo Pulmo National Park is on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula in the Sea of Cortez.
According to Jacques Cousteau, this sea is the ‘world’s aquarium’, filled with multitudes of sea life, including sea lions, sea turtles, whales, sharks, corals, and reef fish.
Spend the day snorkelling or diving the coral reef and then spend the night camping or sleeping in a cabin.
This park is also a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.
This 71-square-kilometre area (27 square miles) provides an excellent model for other internationally protected marine areas.
7- Bahia de Loreto National Park
Bahia de Loreto National Park consists of five islands and several islets and is a couple of hours’ drive north of La Paz in Baja California Sur.
This national park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is included on the Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance list.
The biodiversity within this park is very high, especially for marine mammals such as whales and sea lions.
Visitors to this park can snorkel, dive the reef and explore the underwater canyons and caves.
Sportfishing for mackerel and dorado, among many other species, is also a popular activity.
National Parks In The State of Mexico
8- Nevado de Toluca National Park
The Nevado de Toluca National Park in the state of Mexico was created in 1936 to preserve the Nevado de Toluca volcano, the fourth-highest peak in Mexico.
This park provides an excellent place for visitors to hike challenging trails, mountain bike, ride horses or ride ATVs.
This is not an ideal place for inexperienced hikers, but the view of the crater with its two lakes inside the dormant volcano makes this a popular climb.
In addition, there are several pre-Hispanic archaeological sites located within the park.
At certain times of the year, there is enough snow on the volcano for cross-country and downhill skiing.
Camping and picnicking areas can also be found throughout the park.
National Parks In Mexico City
9- Cumbres del Ajusco National Park
Cumbres del Ajusco National Park is in the southern part of Mexico City and lies within the Sierra de Ajusco-Chichinauhtzin mountain range.
The forests within this national park are called the “Lungs of Mexico City” and much of the water for Mexico City comes from springs located in this forest.
Visitors to the park can go hiking, ride ATVs, picnic, spend the night in mountain cabins or camp and go mountain biking.
If you climb to the top of one of the four highest peaks within the park you will enjoy a stunning view of Mexico City.
National Parks In Puebla
10- Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park
Iztaccíhuatl-Popocatépetl National Park, also called the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, straddles the states of Mexico, Puebla and Morelos.
This national park contains the second and third-highest peaks in Mexico that are part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
The Iztaccihuatl volcano is dormant, and visitors to the park are free to hike on the trails throughout that area and picnic or camp.
As the Popocatépetl volcano is active, visitors are not permitted to hike on the mountain at this time and must always be aware of the local volcano conditions in case an eruption occurs.
11- Pico de Orizaba National Park
Pico de Orizaba National Park is the location of the tallest mountain in Mexico and borders the states of Puebla and Veracruz.
The Pico de Orizaba volcano is currently dormant and was last active in the 19th century.
Visitors to this national park enjoy hiking and mountain biking.
This volcano is home to several glaciers which draws experienced mountaineers from all over the world who want to climb to the summit across the glaciers.
In addition to its natural beauty, Pico de Orizaba also played an important role in Aztec mythology and was the location of several battles during Mexico’s fight for independence.
National Parks In Hidalgo
12- El Chico National Park, Hidalgo
Long before El Chico became a national park, it had already been established as the first national forest reserve in Mexico in 1898, making it one of the oldest protected natural areas in Mexico.
This park, located in the Pachuca mountain range, contains ancient conifer forests that scientists believe have existed unchanged since the Cambrian Period.
Several springs feed many rivers and streams in this park, making it an area rich with water and filled with abundant waterfalls.
The unique and picturesque scenery draws many visitors, especially families, who camp, hike and picnic in this national park.
National Parks In Chiapas
13- Palenque National Park, Chiapas
Palenque National Park encompasses the entire archaeological site of the ancient Mayan city of Palenque.
This city, built sometime between the 3rd and 5th centuries, was once an important part of the Mayan empire until it was abandoned in the early 9th century and lost to the surrounding jungle.
Palenque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts several thousand visitors each year, despite its remote location.
Visitors to Palenque can explore the impressive construction of the Mayan ruins with or without a guide.
Hiking and family-friendly camping options are also available at this park.
14- Sumidero Canyon National Park
Rainforest covers most of the Sumidero Canyon National Park in Chiapas, a deep river canyon often compared to the USA’s Grand Canyon.
Take a guided boat tour from Chiapa de Corzo to view the canyon walls from the water and access an ecological reserve (only accessible by boat).
The park has a variety of activities, including kayaking, hiking, visiting the wildlife sanctuary, mountain biking, swimming and ziplining.
Crocodiles, iguanas, and spider monkeys are some of the wildlife that live in the park and are often seen while hiking or on a guided boat tour.
Sumidero Canyon also contains waterfalls and caves that add to the unique beauty of this national park.
15- Lagunas de Montebello National Park
Lagunas de Montebello National Park is located on the border of Mexico and Guatemala.
This park contains 59 colourful lakes nestled within a pine forest.
It is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the unique colours of these lakes come from the soil types and mineral contents of each body of water.
The archaeological site within the park was once the Mayan city of Chinkultic and its main feature is a giant pyramid, the Acropolis, from which visitors can see a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
You can spend the night, eat at Mexican restaurants, hike and enjoy horseback riding, paddling and kayaking.
National Parks In Chihuahua
16- Basaseachic Falls National Park
Basaseachic Falls National Park gets its name from the second-tallest waterfall in Mexico, which is located within the national park area.
This park is within the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range and has impressively tall cliffs, deep canyons and beautiful rivers that merge before falling over a ridge to the large river 246 meters (853 ft) below.
The hike to the waterfall is a trek uphill and quite challenging but the fantastic views at the top make it worthwhile.
National Parks In Guerrero
17- Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park near Taxco borders the states of Mexico and Morelos.
This Mexican national park is one of the most popular attractions in the country.
The system of caverns is one of the largest in the world, with impressive complexes and chambers formed by the flowing waters of two rivers, San Jeronimo and Chontalcoatian.
You can go caving or camping and hike through the botanical gardens.
More adventurous visitors can also try rock climbing and rappelling in the Limontitla Canyon.
A smaller cavern, the Grutas de Carlos Pacheco, can also be found at this national park.
You can tour this smaller, fossilised cave system separately from the larger cavern complex.
National Parks In Nuevo Leon
18- Cumbres de Monterrey National Park
Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, found within the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, is near the city of Monterrey.
It is the third-largest national park in Mexico.
It covers a vast area containing several mountain peaks such as Cerro de la Silla, canyons like Huasteca Canyon, several rivers and waterfalls such as the famous Cola de Caballo.
The forests are filled with wildlife and visitors can participate in activities from family-friendly hiking, wildlife watching and bird watching to extreme sports like rappelling and mountain biking.
National Parks In Michoacan
19- Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park
Barranca del Cupatitzio National Park in Uruapan, Michoacan, protects the headwaters of the Cupatitzio River.
This national park in Mexico is a biological corridor connecting the Pico de Tancitaro volcano to the forests of Uruapan.
This corridor contains hundreds of plant and animal species within the small, 4.5-square-kilometre (1.7 square miles) area.
Trails and bridges criss-cross the park, allowing easy access for visitors to hike next to and over the river.
You can find many waterfalls in this family-friendly park, and visitors who want a little more excitement can zipline through the trees and see those waterfalls from above.
National Parks In Nayarit
20- Islas Marietas National Park
Isla Marietas National Park, located off the coast of Punta Mita in Nayarit, is a popular tourist destination.
These islands are a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and are completely uninhabited.
The only place visitors can access these islands is a hidden beach on one of the islands that requires a somewhat strenuous swim at low tide to reach the shore.
Snorkelling, diving and whale watching are popular activities within the Isla Marietas park area.
These rocky islands support many species of birds and reef fish.
The Mexican government protects those species by restricting the number of visitors to the beach each day to only 116 people.