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Exploring Waterfalls In La Huasteca Potosina, Mexico

Latin America

EXPLORING WATERFALLS IN LA HUASTECA POTOSINA, MEXICO

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.


La Huasteca Potosina is a relatively small region located in the north central Mexican state of San Luis Potosí.

La Huasteca Potosina is a relatively small region located in the north central Mexican state of San Luis Potosí.

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!

Tamul Waterfall


Aerial view of Tamul Waterfall in Mexico’s La Huasteca Potosina region.

Aerial view of Tamul Waterfall in Mexico’s La Huasteca Potosina region.

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.


There is a trail that will take you down to the base of Tamul Waterfall in Mexico’s La Huasteca Potosina region.

There is a trail that will take you down to the base of Tamul Waterfall in Mexico’s La Huasteca Potosina region.

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 La Huasteca Potosina.

Puente De Dios is one of the more famous waterfalls in La Huasteca Potosina.

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.

El Salto Del Aqua


With the exception of a dirt parking area, El Salto Waterfall is completely undeveloped.

With the exception of a dirt parking area, El Salto Waterfall is completely undeveloped.

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 SALTO DEL MECO


Cascades El Salto Del Meco or El Meco has a number of near by restaurants, hotels, and camp grounds.

Cascades El Salto Del Meco or El Meco has a number of near by restaurants, hotels, and camp grounds.

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.

MINAS VIEJAS


Minas Viejas is a beautiful waterfall in Mexico.

Minas Viejas is a beautiful waterfall in Mexico.

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


Ridding on the “skybike” at Micos!

Ridding on the “skybike” at Micos!

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.


A guide at Micos will generally ride across from you on the “skybike” to make sure you get all the epic video footage on our phone that your heart desires!

A guide at Micos will generally ride across from you on the “skybike” to make sure you get all the epic video footage on our phone that your heart desires!

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!


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  1. Laura says:

    Hello Jess
    I have not enough words to says how thankful I am with your post. Last month I traveled to Israel following your advice on your blog, definitely this is a bucketlist for this coming summer.

    You and Quin do an amazing job.

    Keep it up!!!

    Laura Ocampo

  2. Kim says:

    I have never traveled to this area in Mexico but it looks amazing except perhaps you bike experience! Just don’t think I could do it. Also thanks for mentioning the iOverlander app. I plan in uploading it and trying it out:)
    Thanks again for your insight and detailed descriptions.

    Kim

    • Thanks Kim! I didn’t know anything about this area of Mexico until I started planning a trip there. I’ve always associated Mexico with tropical white sand beaches and cenotes, so I was blown away by the diversity of landscapes on this most recent trip.

  3. Kirtan P. says:

    I have never thought about going to Mexico, until now! That last pic is a thriller! I appreciate you including the "things to know before you go." Thank you for sharing a fun read, Jess.

  4. Diego says:

    Hey Jess. Thanks for sharing this blog with us. I definitely want to visit here. When I travel I always do so having in mind my children. I have a 6 year old son and 3 year old daughter. My son can take on any adventure and my daughter is in training but she will get there too. Do you think from what you experienced here in your trip that’ll it’ll be too difficult for my kids? I know there are spots they can definitely enjoy without being too difficult. Let me know please. Thanks in advance.

    • Hi Diego! For the most part all of the falls are easily accessible, and I don’t think it would be too difficult for your children. The hardest part would probably just be getting there (depending on where you’re coming from). The closest airport is about a 3 hour drive from many of the locations.

  5. Ashley says:

    Incredible! My question is do you speak Spanish? And if you don’t and travel here, how challenging would it be to get around?

    • Hi Ashley! I do not speak Spanish, but my travel partner does. It’s definitely very helpful to have someone that can at least speak a little Spanish, but it’s also posable to hire a guide to take you to many of these locations – so it wouldn’t be necessary.

  6. Rob says:

    Hi Jess,
    My parents were born in Mexico, but they never spoke to me of such a beautiful landscape…probably because they were too poor to visit. 🙂

    In what month did you travel there? Did you drive your own vehicle there, or did you rent one there?

    • Hi Rob! Thanks for stopping by. We were there in December, and we drove our own vehicle down from Texas. Although sometimes I think it would have been easier to just rent a car down there.

  7. Ryan says:

    Hey!!! Loveee your blog and instagram, long time follower. When exactly did you guys go?

  8. Tj says:

    Ahhh I’m so sorry I am so late to this Blog; did not realise there was a new one! But it’s welcomed none the less.
    I have been waiting for you to talk about the SkyBike because I know you have influenced many other travellers to go and do it; you are the OG of that activity haha

    You photography is absolutely amazing! So vibrant and so stunning. I love this blog and I like how you speak of the extra misc that may not get mentioned like entry price on how to get there. Sucks that it was over crowded but I can imagine it would be tbh.

    This was very informative on how to plan a proper trip to La Huasteca Potosina, and very thorough, right from the airport to the falls. It’s interesting that Mexico is a cash driven city and not yet progressed to card as well. I guess how they are keeping their economy healthy.

    This post made me feel like I was present with you. Nice on Jess

    Tj

  9. Yasmin says:

    Hey Jess! Great blog! Question.. how many days did y’all say at La Huasteca?

  10. mirna says:

    when did you go?

  11. mohammed says:

    A beautiful place stated. Thank you for such a nice view

  12. Serge says:

    Great pics and informative article, the nature of SLP es amazing

  13. S. Chavira says:

    Is this trip only for young people? Mom is 86 and will like to go

    • Hi there. I’m not sure how able-bodied your mom is. That being said, many of these waterfalls involve some hiking to get to. Never very long. . . but often with a lot of stairs. A few of them are drive up though, so I’m sure she would be able to enjoy those!

  14. Bob says:

    I can see you are a graduate of the Red Swimsuit School of Photography whose principles were established by National Geographic photographers during the First Kodachrome Epoch (ASA 5-25}

    Let’s give them the credit they are due.

    • Ha! Appreciate the history lesson Bob. You learn something new every day! Here I was thinking I was just taking a page out of Farrah Fawcett’s playbook.

      • Jenny says:

        Thanks for invaluable information and stunning shots. Hoping to head there April 25th from Florida. I had forgotten about Farah Fawcett in her red swimsuit, fond memories.

  15. Kelsey S. says:

    Hi Jess,

    Do you know if this area is open with all the COVID restrictions?

    Also – I know you mentioned you felt safe with Quin, but how would you have felt as a solo female traveler? I really want to go but struggling to recruit a friend so might need to make the endeavor alone 🙂

    • Hey Kelsey. I don’t know anything about the COVID restrictions in that particular area. I know there aren’t any restrictions to get into Mexico, but it’s possible that some of the waterfalls might not be open right now. I think that the most difficult part about traveling in the area solo for me would just be that I don’t speak Spanish, so communicating would be very difficult. That’s not exactly a safety concern, but for that reason alone I probably wouldn’t feel comfortable going solo. If possible, I’d keep trying to recruit a buddy!

  16. Jessica Raymond says:

    To Kelsey S. we are here in Mexico currently doing all the waterfalls Jess has listed (and then some) but we are only on day two of nine. We haven’t encountered anything closed yet and all the locals said everything is open. Masks when you’re walking in places and they squirt your hands with sanitizers but then when you’re around the different falls you can take your mask off. Tamul isn’t flowing currently so we took it off our list (we will come back!) and Puente De Dios was soooo packed not worth going in our eyes. We also went to Tomosopa Waterfall is by there (15 minutes away) which was gorgeous by far more so than PDD was. It is kind of a park, like with rope swings and play areas but not packed at all extremely worth it (the falls were blowing PDD out of the water lol pun intended) and lastly down the street we went to Trampolin, the river and waterfalls go on for miles there it was beautiful. If you are going to travel alone as a female traveler you’d be fine as long as you are completely fluent in Spanish otherwise we met no one who spoke English and we ran into only one other couple that was from somewhere other than Mexico. My boyfriend is Chilean so I had him with me to speak Spanish.

    • Thank you very much for sharing all this beta, Jessica! It’s always nice to get a current update on conditions. And I agree with you that it would be a difficult area to travel around solo if you didn’t speak any Spanish.

  17. Stacey T says:

    Anyone’s thoughts on traveling there middle/end November 2021? We have a wedding in San Miguel de Allende so was thinking of flying into San Luis Potosi International Airport, spend 4 or so days exploring La Huasteca Potosina before driving down there. My Spanish is rusty/minimal but I can usually get by with basic information so let’s hope that’s enough! Also, if only going for 4 days, which falls/locations would you prioritized? (Thanks Jessica for sharing feedback on Puente de Dios and Tamul — fingers crossed it reopens).

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Stacey. Sorry I missed your comment! I don’t know if you are still planning on going. But for reference, we were there mid-December, so I would imagine that conditions would be relatively similar toward the end of November. I also think that you could probably see all of the waterfalls in this post in 4 days if you really pushed it and had your own transportation.

  18. Alana says:

    What is the closest airport and/or train station? How can I get there (or close to there from Mexico City?

  19. Steven Simmons says:

    Hello! Awesome post, quick question. Do these campsites have camping equipment for rent or do they only rent the space for you to camp with your own gear?

    • Jessica Dales says:

      Hi Steven! We were traveling in our van and were very self-sufficient so I’m honestly not sure. I would doubt that many (if any), have camping equipment for rent. But there are almost always very inexpensive lodging and dining options.

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Hi, I’m Jess, an outdoor enthusiast based in Seattle. I grew up exploring the Pacific Northwest, and early on was infected with the travel bug. I tried to suppress my wanderlust in pursuit of a traditional career path, but after a short stint as a lawyer, I left the confines of my office to get back in touch with my roots. Now, I wander the world taking photos, making memories, and sharing my love for travel with others!

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