Photos in collaboration with Quin Schrock
La Huasteca Potosina – Land Of Waterfalls & Magic
When I first met Quin, he had recently wrapped up an epic Odyssey style road trip. Over 5 months he traversed large parts of Canada and the United States. Eventually, he veered south, through Mexico and Central America until he finally hit the Panama Canal and had to call it quits. Four years, and a world of travel later, he still talkes about that trip with a level of fondness that I haven’t seen him display for any other experience. Back when I started following Quin, his Instagram was full of stunning photographs from that road trip. His feed was one photo after another of exotic locations I had never heard of or seen before. But of all the places he visited during that road trip, there was only one that he consistently talked about returning to – La Huasteca Potosina.
La Huasteca Potosina is a relatively small region located in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosí. It’s known locally for its vibrant blue waterfalls, verdant jungles, vast canyons, and exceptional natural beauty. And yet, it remains relatively unknown outside Mexico. Perhaps this is because the interior of Mexico is a blank spot on most travelers’ maps. Maybe it’s because Mexico, in general, continues to be plagued by public image issues concerning safety. Or it could be because the closest cities to La Huasteca Potosina – San Luis Potosi and Ciudad de Valles – are still a few hour drive from many of the region’s main attractions. Regardless of the reason, La Huasteca Potosina remains charmingly off the beaten path.
It goes without saying that when Quin and I started to plan our road trip through northern Mexico, La Huasteca Potosina was at the top of our bucket list. I couldn’t wait to see this magical area of Mexico that Quin had been relentlessly promoting for so long. And sure enough, once we were there, it didn’t take long for me to understand what all the fuss was about. La Huasteca Potosina’s was everything it promised to be – a natural playground just waiting to be explored!
Mexico is one of my all time favorite countries to travel in! For another adventure in Mexico check out my favorite cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula!
In a region known for its abundance of epic waterfalls, Tamul Waterfall, or Cascada de Tamul, is in a league of its own! Famed for its turquoise water, Tamul waterfall is the product of two rivers merging—the Gallinas River and the Santa Maria River. The result is a massive waterfall spanning up to 300 meters.
We enjoyed our time at Tamul Waterfall so much that we spend two full days there. We swam in the river, hiked upstream, cliff jumped, snapped a million photos, and took in the views from every vantage point possible.
How to get there:
It seems that almost everyone who visits Tamul Waterfall does so via boat. In the towns of Tanchanchín and La Morena, you can hire a guide or rent a panga (traditional fishing boat). From there, it’s about a 2-hour paddle upstream on the Tampaón River. Don’t worry, the journey is beautiful, and you’ll be to the falls before you know it. Plus, it takes a fraction of that time to return!
But that’s NOT HOW WE DID IT. I was honestly confused when I first started doing research for this blog post. Everything I read implied that the only way to get to Tamul Waterfall was to hire a guide and paddle there in a boat. I knew that simply couldn’t be true. I know this, because that’s not how we got there.
Instead, we drove the van to a campground about a half-mile from the falls, and then followed a very official hiking trail (with signs and everything) the rest of the way. The trail takes you along the Gallinas River until it pours over the edge of the canyon into the Tampaón River 340 feet below. You can turn around there, or continue down the trail to the right of the waterfall. At this point the trail steeply descends down a series of pretty sketchy stairs/ladders until you reach the bottom of the canyon.
To get to the trailhead, take the turnoff to Naranjito in El Sauz and follow the dirt road until you reach the shore of the Gallinas River. If you don’t want to pay to park, leave your car there, walk across the bridge, and continue down the road to Campamento Tamul. We opted to pay a little extra to park and camp at Campamento Tamul, and it was one of the best decisions we made during the trip.
PUENTE DE DIOS
Puente De Dios is one of the more famous waterfalls in the area. While it was lovely, it was also very regulated and VERY crowded. For that reason alone, we weren’t huge fans and didn’t stay very long. But a quick search on TripAdvisor reveals that most people really love this location. And it’s not that hard to understand why: Puente de Dios has pristine clear water for swimming, a nice cliff jump, and a picturesque jungle setting. So I think that as long as you arrive with realistic expectations (which we clearly did not), it could be an enjoyable experience. Maybe just try and avoid the weekends!
It’s also worth mentioning that you will need to pay an entrance fee (30 pesos at the time of writing), and rent a lifejacket before heading down the 350’ish or so stairs to the waterfall. This isn’t difficult as there are a ton of vendors selling souvenirs and renting out lifejackets between the parking lot and the hiking trail down to Puente de Dios.
Cascada Salto (El Naranjo)
I started following Quin’s adventures on Instagram years ago after he posted a photo of El Salto Waterfall. I had no idea what it was called at the time. Still, when we started planning our trip down into Mexico, and I realized we would be passing through San Luis Potosi, I knew I had to see it in person! What I didn’t know, was that the waterfall only runs part of the year. And as it turns out, it was not running while we were there. Apparently, during the dry season (winter), all of the available water is diverted to a hydroelectric facility upstream, cutting off the water flow to El Salto.
Needless to say, I was pretty bummed to hear that there likely wouldn’t be a waterfall when we arrived at El Salto. But it actually didn’t matter that much! Even without the waterfall, the natural pools were filled with striking crystal clear water perfect for cooling down on a hot day. Oh, and did I mention that the water is one of the most beautiful shades of turquoise-green that I’ve ever seen!
CASCADAS EL MECO
Not too far from El Salto, you will find Cascades El Salto Del Meco or El Meco. There’s a great view of this terraced waterfall off the “El Meco-El Salto” road. It’s basically just a small pullout with a few parking spots overlooking the water. But the view is worth stopping for.
If you want to get a closer look, you’ll need to continue down the road about a quarter-mile, and hire a guide. Alternatively, if you’re planning on staying for a while, you can camp out at Sundial Bar and Restaurant. The campsite at Sundial is located right on the water, and they will gladly help you hire a guide to explore the area if you are interested.
The main waterfall at Minas Viejas drops 55 meters into a lovely pool of water perfect for swimming in. It’s a popular destination for adventure groups who use the opportunity to rappel down the side of the falls into the water below. From the main pool, a series of smaller cascades and pools flow over terraces into the distance.
It is also possible to camp down on the grassy knoll next to the waterfall, which makes for a pretty unique experience.
We spent an entire afternoon at Minas Viejas and only encountered a couple of other groups while we were there. A few areas are roped off to prohibit swimming. Still, for the most part, Minas Viejas is a bonafide natural water playground ready for you to enjoy!
Micos was an absolute blast! Quin and I don’t usually pay for gimmicky tourist activities. But we decided to make an exception for the Adventureland zipline at Mico’s, and I would do it again in a second. In fact. . . we did! I’ve been on quite a few ziplines, and I can say without hesitation that this one was my favorite. The views alone put it in a league of its own. And then there was the “skybike.” I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty darn scary. But hey, when in Mexico!
For the zipline and “skybike” package, we paid 800 pesos (approximately $42 USD) EACH, which is A LOT in Mexico. To put things into perspective, we probably paid an average of about 30 pesos (not even $2 USD) at all the other waterfalls. That being said, we didn’t do any guided tours, or activities, at the other waterfalls. So it’s a little like comparing apples to oranges.
If you’re on a tight budget, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy Micos without breaking the bank. You can simply pay the nominal entrance fee and enjoy the park on your own. You can hire a guide to boat or float down the river for a little bit more.
Things to Know Before You Go To San Luis Potosi
The most convenient airport to La Huasteca Potosina is the San Luis Potosi International Airport, which is about a 3 hours drive from Huasteca Potosina. Less expensive (but MUCH FURTHER away) options include Mexico City or Monterrey.
The best time to visit La Huasteca Potosina is during the dry season or winter (except maybe El Salto because the water won’t be running). The rainy season runs between July and August, and high water levels can make many of the waterfalls inaccessible. Plus, it turns the famously blue colored water brown.
Before taking off on our road trip through Mexico, I spoke to Laura of FunLifeCrisis, and she recommended that I download the iOverlander app. The app proved to be a great resource and contains invaluable information from other travelers about everything from the best camp spots to standard pricing for various activities.
In general, we felt incredibly safe the entire time we were traveling through San Luis Potosi. We didn’t have any issues with theft, scams, or local police. That being said, whenever you travel, it’s essential to be particularly aware of your surroundings. Always listen to your gut, don’t leave valuables lying around, and use apps like the iOverlander to check for any specific safety concerns you should be mindful of.
We didn’t have any trouble finding secure locations to camp in the van. Many of the waterfalls we visited had camping options available. Alternatively, we found that almost all of the local hotels were open to letting us park on their property for a small fee. Many people also choose to stay in hotels in Ciudad Valles or Xilitla and then make day trips to the various attractions in the region.
Mexico is still primarily a cash-based economy – especially once you leave the larger cities. You will need cash to pay for entrance fees, food, parking, guides, etc. It’s good practice to keep small bills and coins on you at all times.
Wear or bring a swimsuit everywhere, you’ll want to cool off in all the water – it’s just too pretty to resist!
In general, La Huasteca Potosina is a relatively unknown destination – especially internationally. But try and avoid visiting during weekends, and Mexican holidays, as the waterfalls are popular with locals and get quite crowded.
While I hope that this blog post helps you plan a trip to La Huasteca Potosina that runs smoothly, please remember that the adventure is half the fun. A destination is never just a place but a new way of seeing things. Mexico is a land of surprises. You learn quickly to expect the unexpected. To let go of the things you can’t control. And to embrace all the little moments of spontaneity, beauty, and generosity that are freely given every day.
If you have any questions about La Huasteca Potosina, please feel free to leave a comment. I’m here to help!