Izta-Popo National Park: A One Day Volcano Hike in Mexico City
If you want to hike in Mexico City, Izta-Popo National Park is one of the absolute best options. Daniel and went on a day trip from Mexico City, and it was so easy to get to. Add some fresh air on a hike in Mexico City to your itinerary with this guide to hiking Izta-Popo National Park!
The Stats: Izta-Popo Hike in Mexico City
Distance from Mexico City: 1.5 hours by bus
Hike Time: 6 – 8 hours
Hiking Distance: 20k / 12.4 miles
Altitude: Start at 11,105 ft and climb to 13,047 ft
I was going to say this is super cheap hike in Mexico City, but after adding up the expenses I’m kind of surprised. Almost all of our costs were spent on transportation.
We spent 120 pesos round trip on the Uber ride to and from the bus station, 70 pesos each for the round trip bus tickets from Mexico City to Amecameca, 400 pesos round trip for the taxis to and from Paso de Cortez (250 on the way up, and 150 on the way down) and 35 pesos each to enter the National Park. We packed our own food and water for a picnic lunch.
In total, the price for the Izta-Popo National Park hike in Mexico City was 730 pesos for two people ($39 usd). If you have a car, though, you can cut costs almost to zero.
Getting to Izta-Popo National Park from Mexico City is really easy. First, take a taxi, uber, or metro to the TAPO bus station. From here, look for the “Volcanes” bus line sign. It’s easy to spot, and once you do just walk through the room to their ticket station.
We paid 35 pesos each for our ticket, and hopped on the next bus to Amecameca. They leave multiple times an hour, so don’t worry about scheduling.
Try to go as early as you can. There’s a couple reasons I recommend this. First, the ride out only took an hour because there was zero traffic, which was nice because it took about 1.5 hours on the way back to Mexico City.
Also, we were on the 6:40 am bus so we got to see a beautiful sunrise over the mountains as we drove… definitely makes the ride more enjoyable!
Finally, we had super clear skies and amazing views all morning. Then, just like everywhere else in Mexico City, the smog and haze rolled in and majorly obstructed Popo Volcano. Clouds usually gather in the afternoons to hide the peak of Izta too, and she was almost completely out of sight by noon.
Because these two volcanos are the main attractions of Izta-Popo National Park, there’s really no point in planning this as an afternoon trip. If you can’t go early, it’s probably not worth visiting unfortunately. But if you can…. do it! The views are really unforgettable on a clear and crisp morning.
What to Pack
Definitely DO NOT forget sunscreen! At this high altitude it’s easy to get burned, as Daniel and I unfortunately found out. Also, there’s nowhere to get food and water after Paso de Cortez, (except possibly a small market stall at La Joya) so pack lots of snacks and two bottles of water per person.
Finally, layer up. I started in a fleece jacket, then switched to a light cardigan, and finally completed the hike in just a t-shirt. Temperatures change quickly in the shade and sun on mountains, so be prepared with warm and cool clothes.
Where to Hike
Once you arrive in Amecameca, turn left out of the bus station and walk down the street to the main square. Here you’ll see a line of taxis, and you can grab the first one.
Negotiate with the driver on a price to Paso de Cortez, the entrance to Izta-Popo National Park. It’s about 30 minutes away from Amecameca, so expect to pay between 150 to 300 pesos. We paid 250 for our ride up.
As you leave the town and start to climb in the mountains, the air gets colder and the landscape changes from houses and businesses to forested roads and mountain views.
Once you arrive at Paso de Cortez you can buy your entrance band at the small park office and start your hike.
Paso de Cortez Round Trip – 12.5 Miles
You really have two different options for the Izta-Popo hike in Mexico City, depending on how much you want to trek. We did the Paso de Cortez roundtrip hike, and it was long.
It’s mostly on a dirt road, and some cars will pass from time to time. The hike is 6.2 miles from Paso de Cortez to La Joya. During the hike we had the road almost to ourselves most of the time, watched Popo Volcano erupt (twice!), and had beautiful views of Izta Volcano.
The signs pointing to La Joya are very obvious and easy to follow. There were also side trails to a secluded rest station with picnic tables where we stopped for an early lunch, and others that leave the main road and branch into the prairies on the mountainsides.
We left Paso de Cortez around 8:45am and reached La Joya at 11:15 (with lots of breaks, picture stops, and lunch in between). The whole hike so far had been easy, flat, or just gradually uphill. Once you get to La Joya, that changes.
At La Joya there is a parking lot where a lot of people opt to start their trek instead. This is where you can finally step foot on the Izta Volcano. The main trail veers upwards, and it’s a steep climb. It does even out eventually, but the high altitude and uphill battle mean it’s definitely not easy. We only climbed on Izta for about short amount of time.
After abut 15 minutes, we saw a small path that left the main one and went right. We climbed it and emerged on the ridge to the most amazing views of Izta behind us, Popo to the left, and the sweeping valley and city laid out to our right. Seriously amazing photo op.
From there, we decided to turn around because we still had a LONG way back to Paso de Cortez. We started the trek down, walked past La Joya, and continued the 6.2 miles back to Paso de Cortez.
With two miles left (we had walked 11.5 in total at this point) a taxi driver passed us. He was headed back to Amecameca from dropping a passenger at La Joya, and we happily flagged him down. It was only 150 pesos to get us back to Paso de Cortez and then all the way down to Amecameca bus station.
If a taxi doesn’t pass you (I wouldn’t count on the good luck) you can wait at Paso de Cortez for one. They come to drop of tourists fairly often and it shouldn’t be a problem finding one for the way back.
La Joya to Paso de Cortez One Way – 7 Miles
After our experience, I had another idea for a great way to see the Izta-Popo National Park hike in Mexico City. This option gives you a chance to see the awesome landscape without having to hike all 12.5 miles of Paso de Cortez to La Joya and back.
If you want to cut your hike to 7 miles, have your taxi driver take you from Amecameca all the way to La Joya. You can start your hike here and climb up Izta for a bit, and then turn around and hike down to Paso de Cortez. You’ll see all the gorgeous views we did, without having to back track or repeat upon yourself.
The total trek distance would be a mile or two up and down Izta from La Joya, and then 6.2 miles from La Joya to Paso de Cortez. Definitely a good option to consider!
Hiking Izta-Popo National Park in Mexico City
A trek in Izta-Popo National Park is a great one day hike in Mexico City. It’s easy to access, the trails are extremely well maintained, and the views are truly stunning. You can hike on Izta Volcano herself, and watch Popo erupt multiple times from afar. You can even bring some camping gear and spend a night or two here… I bet the starry nights would be beautiful.
I highly recommend a trip to Izta-Popo National Park the next time you need some fresh air and an escape from the city!
All my love,
PS want to challenge yourself to reach the peak of Izta Volcano? Check out this guide on Summit Post to learn more about the permits, timing, and where to sleep in the park.
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