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Cumbres de Monterrey National Park (Parque Nacional Cumbres de Monterrey) is in Northern Mexico in the state of Nuevo León. The park comprises several of the most famous peaks in the area and has become a playground for extreme adventure travelers who enjoy different activities in the park's myriad distinct ecosystems. It is the largest park in the Mexico national parks system (except for offshore reefs). This park is also a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.


Rock Climbing in Chipinque

The city of Monterrey is surrounded by mountains of the Sierra Madre Oriental range. A huge swath of mountainous terrain (more than 680 square miles) constitutes the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, which extends many miles south of the city. The park itself borders directly on the city of Monterrey as well as several of its suburban municipalities. There are various routes into the park, and several distinct parts of the park constitute recreational areas for a particular municipality, or that cater to a particular type of traveler.

This is rugged backcountry, rich in opportunies for rock climbing, canyoneering, backpacking, caving, mountain biking, and hiking. Exploring the park can be an absolute adrenaline rush, but be careful because much of this terrain is not suitable for newbies. Best to go with an experienced guide who will provide suitable equipment and instruction. Gaia Extreme is an established company with an excellent local reputation: they can provide guides and equipment for most of the local area.

The park includes the following recreational areas:

Cañón de Las Adjúntas at Matacanes
  • La Huasteca (accessed via Santa Catarina). World-class rock climbing on 1,000 foot sheer limestone walls. 500 routes of varying difficulty. A flat, lightly traveled 30km road goes through the canyon---it is popular with bicyclists.
  • Chipinque (accessed via San Pedro). Cool, dense pine forests in the highland areas. Excellent hiking and mountain biking trails. Picnic areas, playgrounds and interpretive programs at the mesa.
  • Cerro de la Silla (accessed via Guadalupe). Moderately challenging hike to the top of Monterrey's most iconic mountain.
  • La Estanzuela (accessed via Southeast Monterrey). Good area for casual hikes and nature walks. Improved trails with marked walkways.
  • Cascadas Cola de Caballo (accessed via Santiago N.L.). Popular 25 meter high waterfall with easy walking trails. Meeting point for many canyoning and climbing trips into Matacanes and other parts of the park. Recreational facilities such as zip lins and bungee jumping available.
  • Matacanes (accessed via Santiago N.L.). Canyon network deep within the park, popular for extreme canyoning activities.


Cumbres de Monterrey was established as a national park in 1939. The park was created to preserve the flora and fauna of the natural ecosystem, but the park was also created as a tool to help manage periodic flooding that would occur during highland rains, causing flash floods in the valleys below and swelling the Santa Catarina River beyond its banks as it flowed through downtown Monterrey. The park was intended to curb deforestation from rampant development, and it provided opportunities for flood control dams to be constructed.


Chipitín Waterfall in Cumbres de Monterrey National Park

Majestic mountain peaks are the most prominent landscape you'll see in the Cumbres de Monterrey National Park, but vistas of dense forest, rivers rushing through narrow gorges, deep caves, sheer cliffs, serene mountain lakes, and even a deep cenote are some of the very different types of landscapes you'll find in the park.

Flora and fauna[edit]

Lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my! Well, Dorothy, you're not in Kansas and here in Monterrey, there are a lot of animals prowling the mountain forests. Mountain lions are common and far outnumber the occasional jaguar (which has, indeed, been sighted in the park). Bears were once rarely spotted, but they've been making a comeback to the point where they're getting used to people and finding that an occasional garbage can left outside a house is easier pickings than foraging for nuts and berries.

There are also some smaller, but no less worrisome predators in the park. Coyotes are fairly common at lower elevations, the endangered Mexican grey wolf (also known as the lobo) has been occasionally sighted in the park, and bobcats are not uncommon. They have quite a lot of potential prey for dinner. The park has a lot of white tailed deer, as well as smaller mammals, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, squirrels, and coatis.

More than 160 species of bird are found in the park including red-tailed hawks, northern harriers, and golden eagles (the Mexican national bird). There are also several types of owl. Songbirds including robins, are common in the pine forests. If you're lucky, you may catch a glimpse of a maroon-fronted parrot, regarded as an endangered species.

Several species of fish live in the park's rivers and lakes, three species are endemic to the area and are endangered. Several more common species can also be found.

Most of the park is pine forest consisting of various species of pine, fir, and even a few juniper. Yucca are common in the western part of the park (near la Huasteca). As you hike the trails in various sections, you'll also find wildflowers, small forbs, and quite a few agave.


Monterrey is generally temperate and sunny, but weather in the park often varies from the city itself, and even differs from one part of the park to another. Usually, the weather patterns vary by elevation and by your location (north to south). Lower elevations tend to be warmer and drier and get less rain. Higher elevations are forested, shady, and get more rain.

The part of the park near La Huasteca (Santa Catarina), is dry, hot, and will generally reflect desert conditions. Be aware that many areas in La Huasteca have no shade and receive intense, direct sun. Time your climbing to take advantage of shifting shade and avoid being on the rocks during the most direct periods of sun.

Weather in the wooded subtropical peaks (most of the park) is cooler and more humid. Hiking and mountain biking in these areas (including Chipinque) is pleasant through much of the year, though fog is possible during winter months. Occasional freezing temperatures have occurred, but even in winter, temperatures will most likely be in the mid-20s C (or 70s F).

Get in[edit]

Driving into La Huasteca Canyon

Travel to Monterrey by plane, bus, or car. Then use a taxi or private car to reach the park. The four most convenient access points are:

  • Chipinque (San Pedro)
  • La Huasteca (Santa Catarina)
  • La Estanzuela (south part of Monterrey)
  • Cola de Caballo (Santiago)

Fees and permits[edit]

Access to the national park is free. Access to some recreational areas (such as Chipinque and La Estanzuela) will require fees. The fee for Chipinque is M$80 and La Estanzuela is M$40 (December 2022) (but will end up costing at least double that in fees because you can't just pay in cash). Check into fees and how to pay them in advance.

Chipinque and La Estanzuela are both notoriously incompetent with regards to their overcomplicated reservation and payment systems. Both require you to have an app on your phone to buy tickets, and both make sure that there is no WiFi nor even good cellular signal near their entry booths, ensuring your maximum inconvenience. Even when you get back to the main road and do get a signal, you'll discover their apps frequently break. Then you'll find that their app is also very picky about credit cards it will take, so they will refer you to Oxxo where you can pay in cash. Naturally, the Oxxo employees don't know how this works. Of course, you will be charged a "service" fee for the amazing service. What's really amazing is how a simple process like charging a small entry fee can be made into a complicated, excessively expensive hassle. Amazing.

Get around[edit]

The park is big (several hundred square miles, over 1,000 square kilometers). You'll need a car to get between major parts of the park.

Most people get around by walking, or rather hiking, since that's what a park is all about. Mountain bikes are good in areas with appropriate trails (especially Chipinque), and hybrid bikes would be a good choice near La Huasteca, where a flat, lightly used road passes through the canyon. Horseback might also be a possibility.


  • Cerro de la Silla
  • Waterfalls at Cola de Caballo
  • Waterfalls at El Salto
  • Waterfalls at Chipitin
  • Bats at "The Bat Cave"
  • Laguna de Laboradores
  • Pozo de Gavilan (the only cenote in northern Mexico)


  • Hiking: Best area - Chipinque
  • Rock Climbing Best area - La Huasteca
  • Rappeling
  • Canyoning Best area - Matacanes
  • Caving
  • Mountain Biking Best area - Chipinque


There are limited opportunities to buy things inside the park itself, so bring what you need from town. The best place to buy stuff near the park itself is along the Carreterra Nacional (MEX 85) in the town of Santiago, near Cola de Caballo. It's one of the most fun buying experiences in Nuevo Leon with hundreds of independent vendors selling everything.





Entrance to Hotel Chipinque

Hotel Chipinque. There is a rustic mountain lodge offering family cabins and hotel-style lodging, along with a full-service restaurant serving traditional Mexican cuisine in a setting with unparalleled views of the city below.

Hacienda Cola de Caballo [1][dead link]. First-class hotel at the Horsetail Falls (Cola de Caballo) near Santiago N.L. Popular weekend spot and meeting point for canyoneering and backcountry trips to Matacanes.

Bahia Escondida. Moderate family resort on the shores of Presa la Boca in Santiago N.L. Swimming pool, boat rentals (water levels permitting). 5 minute drive to Cola de Caballo.


Camping is available in various parts of the park. Some of it is remote backcountry camping. Established campgrounds are available in the La Huasteca area. Camping areas are also plentiful near Matacanes.

Stay safe[edit]

Beware of bears in Chipinque
  • Appropriate gear
  • Qualified guides
  • Stay hydrated
  • Sunscreen
  • Animals (snakes, mountain lions, bears)

Go next[edit]

This park travel guide to Cumbres de Monterrey National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.