iztaccihuatl and popocatepetl


By Luis Reyes de "Qué Loco Tours" | junio 2024

Everything you need to know about Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl

what’s the best part?

You will be able to organize your trip and know all the options you have in Izta Popo Park by 2022, this article will help you a lot, I hope you like it.

list of contents

The Izta Popo National Park is an amazing place with spectacular landscapes and views, an excellent place to exercise and do outdoor activities.

  • The park is open Tuesday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
  • If you go to the National Park or Paso de Cortés for a single day, it is not necessary to make a reservation
  • If you are going to camp you have to make a reservation. There are some areas where you can camp.
  • If you go to La Joya only on Saturday for a single day, you have to make a reservation, for the other days you do not need a reservation.

Popocatepetl. Hiking tour Hiking Route level 3”. Photography by Qué Loco Tours, April 2022

On November 8, 1935, by Presidential Decree (Lázaro Cardenas), the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes were declared a National Park.

At that time, the protected area was approximately 89,800 hectares. A curve of 3,000 meters above sea level was established as the lower limit of the National Park. Time after, due to the rapid demographic, urban, and industrial growth and the new presidential decrees (Miguel Alemán), there was a decline in conservation.

The Iztaccihuatl Popocatépetl National Park today has an area of 39,819,086 hectares and is managed by the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

The objective of the National Protected Area is to preserve the natural environments of the region and the most fragile ecosystems, to ensure the dynamic balance and continuity of evolutionary and ecological processes.

The Izta Popo National Park is between the states of Puebla (27.81%), Morelos (1.10%) and the State of Mexico (71.09%), covering an area of 39,819,086 hectares. Its coordinates are 18°59’00.43” and 19°28’09.44” North Latitude and 98°34’55.88” and 98°46’40.95” West Longitude in the central-eastern part of the Transversal Volcanic Axis (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

You can also find it on Google Maps

Some of the most visited places in the National Park are:

  • Paso de Cortés
  • La Joya
  • Route Portillos
  • Refugio de los 100

Paso de cortés

The Paso de Cortés is the main meeting and attention point for tourists that is located in the middle of the two volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl. In this service center, the entrance fee to the Izta Popo National Park has been implemented. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 4 PM, Saturday and Sunday from 7 AM to 4 PM.

It has an environmental classroom, restrooms for the public, a parking lot for approximately 400 vehicles, electricity, as well as a recreational area that has access for people with different abilities and that includes a picnic area with fire pits, benches for resting and the contemplation of the landscape and a wooden cabin for multiple uses of 80 square meters built in 2006 (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

“Paso de Cortés”. Photography by Luis Reyes from Qué Loco Tours, 2022

In 1519 Hernán Cortés crossed the Sierra Nevada with his men to this valley, that is in the middle of the two volcanoes, and from there he saw the Anahuac Valley for the first time. This site, previously called Tlamacaxco, today is known as “Paso de Cortés“.

Paso de Cortés Tour

The tours to “Paso de Cortés” include round trip transportation from Puebla and Mexico City, certified guide and hiking equipment. We recommend you go with a certified guide with the NOM09 credential, since it is the guide license given by the Ministry of Tourism.

In “Qué Loco Tours”, in addition to having certified guides with the standard, you can choose between different levels of physical condition, routes, heights and prices. You can check them in our Iztaccihuatl tours section.

“Izta Popo National Park”. Photography by Luis Reyes from Qué Loco Tours, oct 2022

La Joyita

The La Joyita area is the last point that can be accessed by vehicle through the off road from “Paso de Cortés”; there is a parking lot with capacity for approximately 150 vehicles and some infrastructure to support tourism: dry toilets; a block and stone construction made up of four spaces, two for food sales and two for climbers to rest; and a cabin, built with volcanic sand, used by “Socorro Alpino” as an information and assistance center for mountaineers (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

Iztaccihuatl Portillos

The Portillos Hiking Trail (Ruta de los Portillos), also known as “La Ruta de los Refugios”, is the most used path to reach the top of the Iztaccihuatl volcano (5,215 masl). This route is considered a moderate to advanced level and starts at La Joya which is a parking lot and a base camp at 4,000 masl, used for most alpinist to the summit.

The trekking route consists of different reference points that are known as the first gate (1er portillo), the second gate (2do. portillo) and the third gate (3er portillo), which is known as the Feet, the latter at 4,535 meters above sea level. If you want to go higher, you will find the “Refugio de los 100”.

In “Qué Loco Tours” we organized this route from Mexico City or Puebla, check our “Iztaccihuatl Portillos” section.

“Hiking Tour in the Portillos Trail Level 3 Iztaccihuatl“. Photography by Qué Loco Tours, 2022

Refugio de los 100

The Shelter of the Hundred or “Refugio de los Cien” in spanish, is a small emergency shelter at 4,780 meters above sea level with capacity limited to no more than 20 mountaineers. It is not recommended to spend the night in this place, since it is usually full of people.

To go climb to the “Refugio de los Cien” you have to get to La Joya, leave the vehicle and start going up through “Los Portillos” route, which is the most common path to hikers to reach the top of Izta.


Some common questions about the park are:

You can visit the National Park with the both volcanoes, but it is not possible to climb Popocatépetl to the summit due to volcanic activity, although it is possible to climb Iztaccihuatl because it is an inactive volcano. Since December 1994, Popocatépetl entered a new period of activity. This activity is considered low intensity (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

Climbing Popocatépetl Volcano. CONANP / Video CENAPRED feb, 2022

¿Can you visit Iztaccihuatl?

Yes, it is possible to climb Iztaccihuatl to the summit and to its surroundings.  Take a look at our options of hiking routes and their costs in the section Izta Trails.

The visit to the volcano can be done through the different trails that the Izta Popo National Park has created, each one with different altitudes and physical difficulty. Some routes are more risky than others, for example, to reach the summit it can be more risky if you go alone or without the necessary equipment (crampons, mountain helmets, flashlight, etc.), which is why we strongly recommend you go with a guide accredited with the NOM09 of the Ministry of Tourism.

Iztaccihuatl Route Level 1”. Photography by Luis Reyes from Qué Loco Tours, October, 2022

Cost to climb Iztaccihuatl

The price to climb Iztaccihuatl is $98 USD ($1,941 MXN) per person for levels 1 and 2, which includes private transportation from your home or hotel, hiking equipment, and mountain guide. Visit our website for more options.

trip iztaccihuatl volcano mexico level 1

Iztaccihuatl Route Level 1”. Photography by Qué Loco Tours, October, 2022

What to do in the Izta?

In Izta Popo National Park, you can do the following activities:

  1. Mountaineering and Hiking in Iztaccihuatl
  2. Climb to Iztaccihuatl summit
  3. Mountain Bike MTB
  4. Wildlife observation
  5. Camping
  6. Cabins

1. Mountaineering and Hiking in Iztaccihuatl

You can go hiking in the Iztaccihuatl by some marked trails, five of them are interpretive, dedicated to environmental education and located in different parts of the park, some of them with educational certificates (Wild Fauna, Forest Recovery, El Caracol, The Ecological Restoration, the explanation of the basins) (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

In “Qué Loco Tours” we have divided some trails into different levels of difficulty so that you can choose the most suitable for you, according to your physical condition.

Hiking Tour in Iztaccihuatl from Puebla Level 2“. Video by Luis Reyes from “Qué Loco Tours” October, 2022

2. Climb to Iztaccihuatl summit

Another activity is the ascent to the peak of the Iztaccihuatl volcano. This unique experience with impressive views of Popocatepetl and its surroundings is a demanding and challenging activity. The tour lasts 2 days and starts at La Joya, where we leave the vehicle and set up the base camp. The ascent walk begins at dawn. It is important to go with the necessary mountain equipment (helmets, ice ax, tent, sleeping bag, flashlight, first aid kit, mountain shoes) and it is highly recommended to do this activity with an accredited professional guide. You can check the information of the tours to the top of the Izta on our website.

3. Mountain Bike MTB

Mountain biking is another activity that can be done in the Izta Popo National Park. There are trails where you can ride and admire the beauty of the volcanoes.

4. Wildlife observation

With elevations reaching 5,452 meters above sea level, the structures and landscapes of extraordinary beauty, which entail a great diversity of flora and fauna, has a great potential for observing wildlife (SEMARNAT CONANP , 2013).

5. Camping in ztaccihuatl

There are 4 camping areas: El Redondel, El Mirador, La Joyita, La Joyita 2. In order to camp, you need to make a reservation at the Izta Popo National Park and bring all the necessary equipment to be comfortable.

In “Que Loco Tours” we have the camping equipment for you to enjoy your adventure, our options include transportation from Mexico City and Puebla.

"El Redondel"
"El Mirador"
"La Joyita"
"La Joyita 2"

“Izta Zoquiapan National Park. CONANP. Secretaría Medio Ambiente. July, 2022. Camp Areas”

6. Cabins

You can reserve cabins in the “Fraccionamiento Buenavista Villa Turística”, they have a restaurant, gotcha, zip line and fishing.

There are guides that offer this service. In order to hire a guide, we recommend you those who are accredited by the Ministry of Tourism, they usually have the registration card NOM09 (adventure and nature guides), since it is like a driver’s license for people in the tourism environment.

This way you make sure you go with a person who is registered with the government and not some other guide posted on social media that can easily disappear.

Our guides are accredited, and our agency is registered with the Secretary of Tourism (RNT 27211140016) so you can the peace of mind and go hiking with a professional with a well-established agency.

Our service can be from Mexico City and from the city of Puebla. You can consult all the information in the tours section.

Tourists in Paso de Cortés”. Photography by Qué Loco Tours, 2022

Excursions to Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl from Puebla

We have excursions and trips to Iztaccihuatl from Puebla. We pick you up at your home or hotel and do the hiking walk.

We have different marked routes in the Izta, so you can enjoy the wonderful views.

The trekking routes have been designed in different difficulty levels, so you can choose the most suitable one for you.

Hiking Tour in Iztaccihuatl Level 3. Video by Qué Loco Tours, Jun, 2022

Excursions to Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl from Mexico City

The hiking tour in Iztaccihuatl from Mexico City includes transportation, a guide accredited by the Ministry of Tourism, and trekking equipment.

We pick you up at your home or hotel and the hike. We have different hiking paths in the Izta with incredible views. Furthermore, we have designed these trekking routes at different difficulty levels, so you can choose the most perfect option for you. 

Hiking Tour in Iztaccihuatl Level 2. Video by Qué Loco Tours, Jun, 2022

¿What's the difference between departing from Puebla or Mexico City?

The difference is the path. If you depart from Mexico City, the road from the city to the Park is paved. While from Puebla, approximately 1 hour 25 minutes is off-road.

Private Tours to Izta

Private tours to the volcano departing from Mexico City or Puebla include transportation, accredited bilingual guide and safety equipment.

The price starts $97 USD ($1,941 MXN) per person.

Some advantages of A private tour are:

  • Transportation. You provide us with the address of your home or hotel, and we go through you. We return you to the same place at the end of the tour.
  • Just for you. It is an exclusive trip for you, your family or friends.
  • Adaptable. The tour can be adapted to families with small children and to do a lighter walk. Or, you can choose a basic, intermediate or advanced route if you are traveling with friends or if you are an adventurer traveling alone.

Hiking Excursion in Iztaccihuatl Level 3 “Ruta de Portillos”. Photo: “Qué Loco Tours”, 2022 

Due to its topography and location, the park has a variety of climates ranging from humid temperate to cold and very cold climates; the temperature decreases with height at a rate of 0.68 °C for every 100 meters (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

Iztaccihuatl altitude

The elevation of Iztaccihuatl is 5,215 meters above the sea level (SEMARNAT CONANP, 2013).

“Altitudes of the volcanoes in Mexico”. CONABIO image, complemented by “Qué Loco Tours”, 2022

Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl legend

The Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl story, also known as “Don Goyo” and the sleeping woman, begins in Pre-Hispanic Era.

The legend is about two volcanoes that represent a maiden and a Tlaxcalan warrior. The story begins when the inhabitants of Aztlán started their pilgrimage to found the city of Tenochtitlan, best known as the Aztec people, the great rulers of the Mesoamerican region.

The other peoples who live with them have the obligation to give them offerings as a tribute, a situation for which they are feared and hated.

Tired of being one of the slaves of the Aztecs, the chief of Tlaxcala begins a fight against the Aztecs in order to release the people. This cacique is the father of a beautiful young woman named Iztaccihuatl, she was a princess so beautiful and charming, that the day she is born, the gods spend hours and hours admiring her beauty.

Growing up, the princess meets the bravest warrior of the Tlaxcaltecas, named Popocatépetl, they both look at each other for the first time and fall madly in love.

Popocatepetl talks to the cacique and asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage, and the cacique accepts, but only with the condition that Popocatepetl returns victorious from the battle against the Aztecs.

Two months later, the warriors who returned badly wounded begin to spread the rumor that the brave Popocatepetl has been killed by the Aztec warriors. When Iztaccihuatl finds out about the bad news, she feels as if her heart had broken in a thousand pieces, losing all courage to continue living in this world where she no longer breathes because her great love has died. Neither the prayers of her father, nor all the care of the Tlaxcala sorcerers, nothing makes the princess recover the strength of before and her health begins to worsen every day.

The next morning, she dies from the infinite sadness that she harbors in her chest. Weeks later, Popocatépetl returns, just as she promised, victorious and ready to marry his love Iztaccihuatl, but his happiness turns to tears when he finds out that his beloved lies on a bed of lifeless flowers. .

Oddly enough, the body of the princess remains without signals of putrefaction, as if she were asleep, almost as if she was waiting for the return of her fiancé. Popocatépetl is promoted to the rank of general and orders his warriors to build a monumental altar where he can watch over his beloved princess. Ten slabs of polished stone are placed one on top of the other, so that the beautiful young woman remains as if she were on a pedestal, where Popocatépetl carries her to the top of it and deposits her with great care and love.

After kissing her forehead and bathing her face with her tears, the warrior lights a torch and kneels beside the princess to adore her forever.

Thus, the hours pass that turn into days, the days into weeks, during which time the torch remains lit until winter arrives, and the snow puts out the fire, that same snow that covers their bodies little by little.

Surprisingly, one morning at sunrise, the bodies of Iztaccihuatl and Popocatépetl were turned into volcanoes, they say that by the work of the gods to keep them united for all eternity.

Even today, the inhabitants of Popocatépetl assure that the remains of the lava that emerge from the crater come from the beating of the heart that is still falling in love with the princess (IMAGEN RADIO, 2017).

Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl meaning

The word Popocatepetl comes from the Nahuatl Popoca, which means to smoke, and tepetl, which means hill, that is, “the hill that smokes“.

Iztaccihuatl means “white woman” from the Nahuatl iztac (“white”) and cihuatl (“woman”).



  1. Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales y Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas. 2013. “Programa de Manejo Parque Nacional Iztaccíhuatl Popocatépetl”. D. R. © SEMARNAT CONANP (En línea). Disponible en: https://simec.conanp.gob.mx/pdf_libro_pm/87_libro_pm.pdf (Consultado el 27 de septiembre del 2022)
  2. Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas. “Parque Nacional Iztaccíhuatl Popocatépetl” En Linea. Disponible en: https://www.facebook.com/parquenacional.iztaccihuatlpopocatepetl.524 (Consultado el 28 de septiembre de 2022)
  3. ¡Qué tal Fernanda!. 2017. “La leyenda de Popocatépetl e Iztaccíhuatl”. Imagen Radio. En Línea. Disponible en: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiiJ2NTTBCE (Consultado el 21 sep 2022)


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