Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey

 

Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey

Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey

Canyoneering

Canyoneering

 

Last week’s post featured Chipinque, one park within the 177,395.95-hectare (438,354.9-acre) system Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey (Peaks of Monterrey National Park) located primarily south of Monterrey, Mexico. Whether your idea of enjoying nature is dining on the patio of a nice restaurant or diving in a subterranean river, the other parks within a park have plenty to offer. Below are four of the largest and most popular areas.

La Huasteca

La Huasteca

The most popular park after Chipinque is Cañón de la Huasteca (Huasteca Canyon), eleven miles southwest of downtown Monterrey. Here you can find glyphs estimated to be over 5000 years old carved into canyon walls. La Huasteca’s sheer limestone cliffs jut nearly a thousand feet into the air, beckoning climbers and rappellers with over 200 bolted routes. If you’d rather have a pro along, there are businesses like Emoción Extrema Ecotourism and Adventures that offer outings and classes. You can rent equipment or hire a guide for cañonismo—canyoning or canyoneering in English—which involves a mix of sports to explore canyons. You might begin by rappelling down a mountainside, then jumping into a waterfall, rafting or crawling through a cave.

Grutas de García

Grutas de García

Eighteen miles on from La Huasteca are Las Grutas de García (García Caves). From the parking lot, the stunning series of caves is reached via a 10-minute ride on aerial tram or cable railway that takes you 260 feet up. One warning: try to avoid peak tourist times like Holy Week and the week after Christmas as lines can get long and tour groups large.

Cola de Caballo

Cola de Caballo

On weekends, Monterrey residents often van de carretera, literally “go to the highway,” on short trips of a few hours to a day.  Highway 85 is one of the most popular routes. Along the way, you find plenty of mountain views, eateries and stands selling everything from pottery to big bags of freshly picked oranges. Some twenty-five miles from Monterrey, near the town of Santiago, is Cola de Caballo (Horsetail Falls) where the 80-foot waterfall fans out much like a horse’s tail. You can walk the short distance from the parking lot to the falls or hire a horse-drawn buggy. At the nearby hotel, Hacienda Cola de Caballo, employees can host a wedding for 500 or arrange for guests to camp or get familiar with the area on a zipline or a 230-foot bungee jump.

View from Cerro de la Silla

View from Cerro de la Silla

From almost anywhere in Monterrey, the most visible location in the Cumbres system is Cerro de la Silla (Saddle Mountain), the landmark mountain that often serves as a symbol of the city and a backdrop for eye-catching photos of the cityscape. The mountain, actually located in Guadalupe, has four peaks that can be climbed with various routes. While the other parks generally offer walks for all levels, Cerro de la Silla is not advisable for anyone wanting an easy hike. Some of the routes become very challenging.

Today, as the popularity of mountain sports and extreme sports grows, there are concerns about the future of Cumbres National Park. There has been insufficient oversight of park use. Picnickers and day visitors to La Huasteca leave volumes of trash tossed aside, and there are stories of overnight campers being robbed there. The increasing presence of humans and their activities, including urban development, threaten the 1,368 species of flora and fauna within the Cumbres parks. In fact, seventy-three are considered at risk of extinction.

Last November, the First Congress of the Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey was held. During three days of meetings government representatives, academic researchers and community leaders came together to discuss the state of the parks, improvements for oversight and the park’s future. With the combined efforts of sectors like these and their continued vigilance, Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey will remain beautiful for generations to come.

Below is a video of the zipline and bungee opportunities at Hacienda Cola de Caballo which can be found at: http://www.ibo.com.mx/monterrey-nl/cola-de-caballo/bungee-cola-de-caballo.

 

 

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