Mexico is in an area with a lot of volcanic activity and because it is a big country you can find some of the most impressive volcanoes in the world here. There are some that are still active and which keep giving the population around them signs that they could erupt sometime soon. Others have been extinct for a while, but they have left a reminder of the force that a volcano can produce. Here are the top 5 tallest volcanoes in Mexico for those who love to travel to volcanic areas.
Pico de Orizaba (Dormant)
Pico de Orizaba is the third tallest peak in North America and it is the tallest peak in Mexico. This stratovolcano is now dormant so it is possible that it could one day become active again. Pico de Orizaba is the 7th most prominent mountain in the world and it rises 18,491 ft. above sea level. You will find this volcano between the states of Puebla and Veracruz with Estado de Mexico nearby. The last eruption to take place at Pico de Orizaba happened in the 19th century. The volcano gets its name from the Orizaba city which it overlooks.
Climbing the volcano is possible, but climbers need to beware of the Glaciar Oriental as it is the trickiest part of the journey. Another thing to consider is the climate that you will face during the climb. The higher you go, the colder it will get and there are also prevailing strong winds to deal with. Because of the sheer size of the mountain Orizaba is one of the volcanoes in Mexico that will give you several micro climates. You will also have climatic influences from the Gulf of Mexico which is not that far away to the east of the mountain.
Popocatépetl is the second highest volcano in the country at an altitude of 17,802 ft. above sea level. Don Goyo as the locals know it, is a stratovolcano that could cause a lot of damage and affect millions of people due to its site. The volcano is right by Puebla, a city with a population of 2,668,347 and only 43 miles from Mexico City which is one of the most populated cities in the world. Its last major eruption took place in 1947 and it has not stopped smoking since.
Don Goyo is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico and though climbing was allowed until recently, going up the mountain has become very rare due to how active the volcano is now. As recently as May of 2013 there was a small eruption which lead to tremors that lasted close to three and a half hours and on July 4th flights into Mexico City experienced cancellations by several airlines because of the ash explosions.
Iztaccíhuatl is the third highest peak in the country at an altitude of 17,159 ft. and the name means “White woman”. The volcano is dormant and it is close to the Popocatépetl in the state of Puebla close to the border with the state of Mexico. Because of their proximity to each other, there were Aztec legends about Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl in which Iztaccíhuatl represented a princess while Popocatépetl represented a warrior sent to battle in Oaxaca. The emperor told the princess that the warrior had fallen in battle which he had not. The news made the princess so sad that she died in her grief. When the warrior returned he kneeled at her grave and the Aztec gods transformed them into mountains and covered them in snow.
It is possible to climb the mountain by heading to the town of Amecameca and the climb takes about two days. From the top you get a great view of Don Goyo and the valley of Mexico. It is not a particularly difficult climb so even beginners can make it to the top. Guides are available but each guide will take a total of two people at most.
Nevado de Toluca (Dormant)
Nevado de Toluca is the fourth tallest in the country and it is as a stratovolcano. The name Nevado de Toluca means Snowy of Toluca which is very appropriate as it is covered with snow most of the year. Nevado is 15,354 ft. tall and it is in the state of Mexico by Toluca and very close to Mexico City. The volcano’s summit caldera is very wide at close to a mile wide. There are two lakes in the crater and being a dormant volcano it is a very safe place to get to.
Nevado de Toluca is probably one of the easiest tall peaks to get to as there is a road that takes you a long way. The climb is very easy and under a mile long so beginners will be able to reach the summit without a problem. You can choose to climb it with guided tours as well. may and October are the best months to go to the top as the snow is not as heavy and the rainy season is either starting or ending.
La Malinche (Dormant)
La Malinche otherwise known as Matlalcuéyetl is a dormant volcano in the state of Tlaxcala. Its native name means Lady of green Skirts which is a rain goddess. The peak is in the fifth largest national park in the country which also has the name of La Malinche. The stratovolcano is 14,636 ft. tall and its last eruption is believed to have taken place 3,100 years ago.
Though you will hear the locals talk about strange noises coming from the mountain, the volcano is dormant and safe to climb. The easiest way to get to the top is through hiking trails from the park. Tourists can stay in one of the many comfortable cabins in the park. If you plan to climb you will need the right clothing because it can get cold on top. The trail will take you all the way to the top and while it is a bit challenging there is no technical preparation needed to go up. If you are in good shape you will have no trouble getting to the summit.