Popocatepetl Active Volcano

Hello travelers! Today I’d like to write about a very interesting topic and I’ll try to resolve some questions about the volcano. ¿Can you climb the Popocatepetl? ¿Is it safe to walk in Popo? I hope you like it!

Popocatépetl erupts (February, 2024)

The Izta Popo National Park has two volcanoes in the same Protected Natural Area, Iztaccihuatl and Popocatépetl volcano. 

Iztaccihuatl is a volcano that is inactive and it’s possible to climb to the top, or you can hike in specific trails to admire the beauty of both volcanoes. We recommend you some trails that we’ve design for you. 

On the other hand, Popocatépetl is an active volcano and is not possible to climb to the top, or walk close to the crater.

a group of tourist hiking in Popocatepetl in mexico
Hiking Tour in Izta Popo National Park (February, 2024)


The Popocatépetl volcano is the second highest volcano in Mexico (5,400 masl/ 17,716.5 ft), in English it means “Smoking Mountain” because is an active volcano since 1994 and is monitored 24 hours every day by the government of Mexico (CENAPRED).

The Popocatépetl’s danger zone is 12 km (7.45 miles) radius around the crater. This exclusion area is restricted and is not possible to walk through due to the ash, smoke and rocks. 

The guards and the mountain police ensure that people do not run the risk of walking in this area. 

Popocatépetl's Danger Zone (June, 2024)

Beyond this restriction area it’s possible to walk and there’re hiking trails between both volcanoes with incredible views that are safe and permitted by the National Park.

Hiking Trail "Level 1" Between Two Volcanoes (November, 2023)

The probabilities that a really big eruption occurs and exceed 12km are very low, and if that happen Mexico City or Puebla will not be affected, only ash would arrive. If you would like to read more about this subject you can take a look in the government’s website and check the maps.


Now that we know the restricted area around the volcano is 12km, we can safely enjoy hiking activities beyond this zone with breathtaking views. Here are some options: 

  • Level 1 “Alpine Trail” Walk between the two volcanoes on this 8-9 km route and reach a beautiful viewpoint.
  • Level 2 “Spring water Trail” Take a longer hike between the two volcanoes and visit a natural waterfall and the spring waters on this 13 km trail. 
  • Level 3 “Portillos Trail” Hike on Iztaccíhuatl with views of Popo at higher altitudes.
  • Level 4 “Iztaccíhuatl Summit” Enjoy the big challenge of reaching the peak of this inactive volcano. 

Visit our website for more information, or book your adventure.

two tourist in a Popocatepetl hiking tour with the view of popocatepetl
Popocatépetl Tour "Level 1 & 2" (March, 2024)
a couple of tourist having fun in the level 3 tour in iztaccihuatl
Hiking Tour in the Volcanoes "Level 3" (May, 2024)

Izta Popo National Park

Hiking or Trekking in the Iztaccihuatl Popocatépetl National Park is allowed and not dangerous if the activity indicator is in “yellow phase 2”, this means that the park is open to all visitors.

The government has designed a volcanic activity indicator to let people know how active the volcano is. It’s like the traffic lights: green, yellow and red. 

  • Green means that the volcano is quiet
  • Yellow means that is active (since 1994) but it’s still possible to hike
  • Red means danger, the National Park is closed and there’s an evacuation for people living near the crater (Xalitzintla 12km and San Pedro Benito Juárez)

The Popo had a period of 70 years of inactivity and it may take many years to be inactive again. Since 1994 it’s been in yellow phase 2, I mean it’s a volcano that almost every day has eruptions. 

Group of Tourist in Itza Popo National Park (March, 2024)

For us hikers, it’s possible to visit the volcanoes while the activity indicator is yellow phase 2 or below. It’s been in this stage since 1994 and the National Park is open for hiking, trekking or mountaineering and there’s no problem. You can check the color in the government website

When the indicator is in red it means that the park is closed and people who live near the Popocatepetl have to evacuate since they are located near the crater.

According to the government’s risk map, Mexico City and Puebla City would not be at risk if a big eruption happens.  


The last time Popocatépetl erupted was on December 12, 2000. The volcano increased its activity and 41,000 people had to evacuate because they were living near the crater. Some people moved with family or friends, and others moved to shelters. 

“Popocatépetl’s Video Last Eruption (December, 2000)”


For more than 400,000 years the volcano has had small, moderate and big eruptions as you can see in the next timeline:  

eruptions of Popocatepetl volcano during the time
Popocatépetl History Timeline (CENAPRED)

As you can see, the volcano has woken up and then fallen asleep. 

In Qué Loco Tours we have different and safe hiking trails so you can enjoy the views of both volcanoes. Visit our website www.quelocotours.com for more details. 


  • “Historia de la Actividad del Volcán Popocatepetl 17 años de erupciones” by Centro Nacional de Prevención de Desastres and UNAM. Available in:  https://www.cenapred.unam.mx/es/Publicaciones/archivos/225-HISTORIADELAACTIVIDADDELVOLCNPOPOCATPETL-17AOSDEERUPCIONES.PDF
  • Mapa de Peligros del Volcán by CENAPRED. Available in: https://www.cenapred.unam.mx/es/Publicaciones/archivos/357-CARTELMAPASDEPELIGROSDELVOLCNPOPOCATPETL.PDF
  • Semaforo de Alerta Volcánica by the Government of Mexico. Available in: https://www.gob.mx/cenapred/articulos/semaforo-de-alerta-volcanica-220744

Last Updated 2024-06-24

Written by Luis Reyes (Qué Loco Tours)

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