It’s a bold claim, but San Luis Potosi, Mexico’s Huasteca Potosina region might just be my favorite area of Mexico. This region is a true hidden gem. La Huasteca Potosina is perfect for adventure travelers, or just those looking for off the beaten path travel in Mexico, away from the mega resorts of Cancún. La Huasteca Potosina features jaw dropping waterfalls, stunning hikes, and even a whimsical surrealist escape in the rainforest.
I only had three or so days in this beautiful region. Frankly, I could have stayed the whole week. I’m still a bid sad that I didn’t, because I loved it so much. There’s still so many top attractions there that I couldn’t get to. I’d love to go back to see El Trampolin and Minas Viejas, amongst others. Many of the best things to do in San Luis Potosi are located at least an hour, if not a few hours, away from each other, making it difficult to do more than one or two in a day.
Looking to visit La Huasteca Potosina for yourself? Keep reading for some of the top attractions in La Huasteca Potosina, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. This list is written in the order I visited each of these attractions. As a result, it can also be used a casual itinerary for a three to four day trip.
HOW TO GET TO LA HUASTECA POTOSINA, SAN LUIS POTOSI
FLYING TO SAN LUIS POTOSI, MEXICO
The first step to reaching the La Huasteca region is a flight (that is, unless you’re road tripping from Mexico City or elsewhere). There’s both international and domestic flights into San Luis Potosi’s main airport, Ponciano Arriaga International Airport (SLP). This is a small airport, with only a couple gates. Despite its low traffic, SLP does have a Priority Pass lounge. We took an Aeromexico flight from CDMX. Most flights to San Luis Potosi within Mexico have a layover in Mexico City. We flew to Mexico City from Guadalajara (after staying at this Tequila barrel hotel), and spent a couple days there before continuing onto San Luis Potosi. The flight duration between CDMX and SLP is only about an hour.
RENTAL CAR AT SAN LUIS POTOSI AIRPORT (SLP)
Like the airport itself, rental cars are a very low key operation at SLP. San Luis Potosi rental car stands typically only have one employee, who’s also responsible for retrieving the cars. Expect to wait anywhere from no time at all to an hour for your rental car. We waited closer to the hour than no time at all.
The best type of rental car for La Huasteca Potosina is anything high clearance. Our small economy car managed to make it through the adventure, but not without several tense, stressful, and questionable moments on the rural roads. If possible, try to aim for renting a Jeep, SUV, or truck. It is absolutely worth the extra money.
Whenever I’m traveling internationally I opt for the maximum car insurance possible, and San Luis Potosi was no exception. Given the rough condition of the roads in some areas, I wouldn’t recommend that you get anything less than full coverage. Click here for rental car options in San Luis Potosi.
DRIVING TO LA HUASTECA POTOSINA, SAN LUIS POTOSI
We stayed in Ciudad Valles, which is the main city in La Huasteca Potosina. Ciudad Valles is very central, making the drive time to each attraction between thirty minutes and two hours. This also made driving from SLP to La Huasteca Potosina relatively easy, as we weren’t immediately driving into small towns.
The main highways in La Huasteca Potosina are some of the best roads I’ve seen in all of Mexico. Definitely much better than the highways around Tulum and into the Yucatán and Quintana Roo. I had service most of the time as we were driving around La Huasteca Potosina, however about halfway through the drive between SLP and Ciudad Valles, I lost service entirely. I didn’t regain it until we got closer to Ciudad Valles. Download offline maps for San Luis Potosi in the Google Maps app to ensure that you have navigation for the entire drive.
Keep in mind that once you leave the city of San Luis Potosi, the highway is all toll road. Make sure that you have cash to pay the tolls. Gas stations are also very sparse throughout the whole drive. Fill up outside of the airport, and buy lots of water as well. The drive between the airport and Ciudad Valles is mostly through the mountains and is beautiful.
BUS TO CIUDAD VALLES FROM SAN LUIS POTOSI
If you’re not keen on driving, there are buses between San Luis Potosi and Ciudad Valles. To catch the bus, you’ll need to take a taxi from the airport to San Luis Potosi’s central bus station. Buses typically cost $10-25 each direction. Expect the journey to take roughly five hours.
Personally, I recommend driving strongly over public transportation in La Huasteca Potosina. The region is very spread out, and driving is going to give you much more convenience and flexibility for exploring. That being said, for those who can’t drive (like me), or don’t feel comfortable with it, there are public buses from Ciudad Valles to some of the major attractions in La Huasteca Potosina.
Private taxi is also available from Ciudad Valles. If you’re not renting a car, this will give you the most flexibility to visit the best things to do in La Huasteca Potosina. If you take a taxi, make sure they wait. Hire them for the whole day or half day, not just the single trip. Taxis in La Huasteca Potosina’s small towns are essentially nonexistent, and if you don’t arrange to have one wait for you, you may find yourself stranded.
CASCADAS DE TAMASOPO
Cascadas de Tamasopo was the first attraction we visited in La Huasteca Potosina! If you’re driving from SLP to Ciudad Valles, these waterfalls are conveniently along the way. We strategically booked our flights from CDMX to SLP early to visit this location on the way in. About 45 minutes from Ciudad Valles in Tamasopo, Cascadas de Tamasopo is a natural waterpark, and one of the most popular and tourist friendly attractions in La Huasteca Potosina.
Go waterfall jumping, take on an over water ropes course, or relax at the ice cream stand or restaurant. Admission to this popular location is $40 pesos (approximately $2 USD) per person. Parking is an additional $30 pesos (approximately $1.50 USD) per vehicle. Life jacket rental is also $30 pesos, however this fee is not always enforced. Parking and entrance fees to Cascadas de Tamasopo do seem to vary so keep that in mind. As mentioned in my complete guide to visiting Cascadas de Tamasopo, visitors have reported paying up to $100 pesos per person, and $50 pesos to park.
Cascadas de Tamasopo isn’t necessarily the most awe striking location in La Huasteca, but the way that it’s been developed does make it a lot of fun. Afterwards, visit El Trampolin across the street. Entrance to El Trampolin is free. I really wanted to make it there also, but unfortunately we were losing sun by the time we left Cascadas de Tamasopo, and wanted to get to Ciudad Valles before it got too late.
CASCADAS DE MICOS
The next morning, our first full day, we visited Cascada de Micos. I’m going to be very honest — Cascadas de Micos was underwhelming. To be fair, the morning we visited was chilly and cloudly. All around gloomy. I wasn’t in the best mood after arriving and realizing I forgot a key piece of photography equipment. However, I was cheered up by Cascadas de Micos’ colorful rowboats.
Cascadas de Micos is one of the smaller waterfalls in La Huasteca Potosina, but it’s still worth the stop if you have the time or are interested in the skybike or zipline. If you’re on a tight itinerary, I would absolutely prioritize the other attractions in this guide. Cascadas de Micos is best known for its Adventureland zipline and skybike. The skybike is suspended over the waterfall and gives views of the river leading to Micos and the mountains nearby. Priced at $800 pesos (about $39 USD) per person, this is one of the priciest things to do in La Huasteca Potosina. This would have been so much fun to do, but frankly, the cold weather would have made it a little miserable I think.
If you’re not planning on ziplining or doing the skybike, Cascadas de Micos probably isn’t going to be a standout for you. However, it is one of the closest attractions to Ciudad Valles, and is much more easily accessible than many attractions in La Huasteca Potosina. If you have a free morning or afternoon, give it a go!
CASCADA EL SALTO (EL SALTO DEL AGUA) – EL NARANJO, SAN LUIS POTOSI
A photo of Cascada el Salto on social media is what led me to discover La Huasteca Potosina. The single image of this stunning place led me down a rabbit hole of searches, satellite map stalking, and endless hours of research. As such, it was one of the attractions I was most excited for.
We visited Cascada el Salto (also known as El Salto del Agua) in the afternoon after visiting Cascadas de Micos. Both waterfalls are in a similar direction, and can easily be done in the same day.
Cascada el Salto is located just outside of the small town of El Naranjo. Actually reaching the waterfall proved more difficult than expected. We almost drove into a hydroelectric plant! After a tense drive down a very sketchy dirt road (road is a loose term here), we made it.
During winter, the dry season, Cascada el Salto doesn’t have a waterfall. The water flowing to it is cut off and diverted to the power plant. During the wet season, it does. Despite this, winter is still one of the best times to visit Cascada el Salto and La Huasteca Potosina as a whole. During the summer, the stunning, clear blue water of San Luis Potosi has been known to turn murky and brown because of the rain.
As mentioned in my guide to visiting Cascada el Salto, the waterfall is free to visit. It’s unregulated, and because of this, is technically open 24 hours. I wouldn’t recommend staying there past 4 or 5 pm. The road conditions would not be well navigated in the dark, and there’s no lights out there.
CASCADA EL MECO – EL NARANJO, SAN LUIS POTOSI, MEXICO
Cascada el Meco is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my travels. When the sunlight hits it just right at golden hour, it’s so spectacular. The mirador for this waterfall is very easy to reach. After driving through El Naranjo, it’s just a pull off spot on the side of the road. However, the waterfall isn’t visible from the road, making it a bit confusing if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Admittedly, we drove up and down the road several times, passing Mirador Cascada el Meco too many times to count before realizing our mistake, and feeling very, very dumb.
Cascada el Meco is located between Cascada el Salto and El Naranjo’s town center. The two waterfalls are just a few minutes from each other, making doing both a must if you’re already doing one. When you pull off to the Cascada El Meco lookout spot, you’ll be greeted by a few local guides. Through them, you can book hiking tours where you’ll see even more hidden waterfalls, and be able to jump from the top waterfall to the top pool. I wanted to do this so badly, but unfortunately we didn’t have time. I really wish we would have known before getting there that it was an option! If you’re interested in doing this hike, I would recommend skipping Cascadas de Micos in the morning, and opting to spend the whole day in El Naranjo instead. For more things you can do at Cascada el Meco and tour prices, click here to read my full guide to visiting.
We opted just to view the waterfall from the lookout platform as it was starting to get late and some of the road between Ciudad Valles and El Naranjo is windy and mountainside (not ideal to navigate in the dark). The lookout is one of the best views of the waterfall and wow, it is so, so beautiful. Cascada el Meco is truly one of the best waterfalls in San Luis Potosi.
LAS POZAS (EDWARD JAMES’ SURREALIST GARDEN, JARDÍN ESCULTÓRICO EDWARD JAMES) – XILITLA, SAN LUIS POTOSI
Las Pozas is like something out of a fairytale. Stepping into Edward James’ Surrealist Garden in Xilitla is like stepping into a fantasy realm. I visited this daydream of a place on our second full day in La Huasteca Potosina. The rainforest of Xilitla has been allowed to grow around the whimsical concrete sculptures of Las Pozas, making for a location so special and unique. I’ve really never seen anything else like it.
To visit Las Pozas, you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance online, or in person in Xilitla’s town square. Xilitla is located in the Sierra Gorda mountains, on an actual mountain. As such, driving through it is a somewhat wild experience! Roads in Xilitla are very steep, bumpy, and filled with sharp turns. At times, it felt like we were driving straight up a wall. If you’re just visiting Las Pozas, you won’t have to deal with any of this as the highway turns off into flatter dirt roads (although they’re filled with bumpy potholes and roots). However, I do encourage you to see Xilitla as it’s only a few minutes away and very charming.
Admission to Las Pozas is $125 pesos ($6.15 USD). The price of admission includes a mandatory group tour. At this time, free wandering around the garden is unfortunately not allowed. Click here for everything you need to know about visiting this dreamy place.
CASCADA DE TAMUL
After visiting Las Pozas, we hiked to Cascada de Tamul on the way back to Ciudad Valles. The short hike is accessible from the town of El Naranjito. It is absolutely possible to do both Las Pozas and Cascada de Tamul in the same day, however if you’re doing this, I’d recommend arriving to Las Pozas when it opens at 9am to ensure you have enough sunlight for both activities.
Cascada de Tamul is definitely the most jaw dropping waterfall of La Huasteca Potosina. This waterfall is 345 feet tall, making it the tallest waterfall in San Luis Potosi. You can paddle to it as well, but personally I think hiking is the better option. Paddling takes a few hours to reach the waterfall rather than just a half hour or so. You also won’t be able to get all that close to the waterfall. If you’re hiking, you can get as close to it as possible, and in my opinon, you have a much better view. Remember to bring a swimsuit — if you’re hiking, you can swim in the waterfall’s top pools.
Having a guide is mandatory for hiking to Cascada el Tamul. Honestly, after doing it, I’m glad we had one. The hike isn’t long, but it is quick altitude gain on the way back. Hiking down to the canyon where the best view of the waterfall is requires climbing up and down a sketchy ladder, that I don’t think we would have tried to use without the guide. For guide prices and more information on visiting Cascada de Tamul, click here.
WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Before visiting La Huasteca Potosina, keep the following in mind:
- Cell service is great in Ciudad Valles and on main highways, however is nonexistent at most attractions. To avoid being caught without navigation, download offline maps for San Luis Potosi on the Google Maps app.
- This should go without saying, but English isn’t guaranteed. You’ll find more English speakers in Ciudad Valles and Xilitla. In small towns like El Naranjo and El Naranjito, it’s rare. Download Spanish offline in the Google Translate app to be able to translate whatever whenever!
- Road conditions off of the major highways are generally rough. Rent a high clearance vehicle if possible. It’s absolutely worth spending a little extra for the Jeep or SUV.
- Be mindful of your sunscreen. La Huasteca Potosina is known for its beautiful, clear blue water, and you wouldn’t want to damage that! Wear a biodegradable, reef safe sunscreen, or no sunscreen at all.
- Bring a swimsuit and sneakers with you every day. With so many stunning waterfalls, you never know when swimming might present itself! Even though La Huasteca Potosina is a lot of water, it’s not the best place for sandals. If you’re wearing sandals, keep sneakers with you also.
- Gas stations are few and far between. Your best bet for gas is refilling in Ciudad Valles when needed. There are a few gas stations off the main highways, but they’re spread out. It’s best to err on the side of great caution in this region.
- Cash is king. You will need cash for every entrance fee, parking, tolls, etc. Be careful about where you’re withdrawing cash. I recommend withdrawing from a Chedraui (Mexico’s equivalent of Walmart) or official bank location. There’s a Chedraui in Ciudad Valles with secure ATMs. Pick up any essentials you may have forgotten there as well!
WHERE TO STAY IN CIUDAD VALLES, SAN LUIS POTOSI
After tons of research, we decided to stay at Hotel Casa Ortiz in Ciudad Valles. This environmentally conscious boutique hotel is one of the best hotels in Ciudad Valles. The property is the perfect place to stay after a long day of exploring. I’m really glad that we ended up staying there over some of our other choices. The other hotels we considered were located on the main road in Ciudad Valles. As one might expect, the main road in Ciudad Valles gets busy and noisy. Hotel Casa Ortiz is just a couple blocks from the main road, on a quiet but safe residential road. Even better, at only $50 a night, the Casa Ortiz is very affordable. For my full review of Hotel Casa Ortiz, click here. To view Hotel Casa Ortiz rates, click here.
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