I Felt Like Indiana Jones at Las Pozas, the “Surreal Garden”

Walking through cement platforms in the jungle, you can imagine you are Indiana Jones, in search of the next big artifact. Las Pozas is unique and I don’t believe there is anything else like it in the world.

On a Wednesday in November, I booked a trip for the upcoming three-day holiday weekend to Xilitla (November 20 is a major holiday in Mexico). My Spanish teacher told me she was taking a road trip and we discussed us joining her. However, I realized her plans (which included one night of camping) would not work for us right now*. Then, she told me about Las Pozas (“The Pools”).

She described Las Pozas as a surreal, crazy garden. She also mentioned there were waterfall pools where you can go swimming. Everything about this sounded perfect. Especially the waterfall pools. I should’ve checked the drive time (and weather) before committing. I did not. Thankfully!

*Fun fact: I learned my husband enjoys camping very much.

Las Pozas

At the entrance to Las Pozas, there is what looks like a slightly gothic, unfinished building structure. It's white and gray, built from cement.

At the entrance to Las Pozas, this is the first thing you see. It’s stunning.

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Some of the art at Las Pozas. This is a large cement S shaped piece, up in the jungle.

Quick Recap of Getting to Xilitla

As is our normal, if I say we should leave at X time for a road trip, we do not. As we moseyed out the door almost 2 hours after I’d wanted to leave, my husband said, “You know this is a five and a half hour drive, not three hours, right?”

“Yep, I noticed that after I booked.” It’s also why I wanted to leave at 6:30 in the morning.

After a harrowing drive through the Sierra Gorda mountains, we arrived at our hotel. Which, in normal fashion, took me 10 minutes to figure out how to enter.

Our Visit to Las Pozas

The next morning, though we were up very early, we ended up not getting to Las Pozas until around noon. It was raining and we were debating what to do and how to get to our destination. We decided to take a taxi to our destination, which was the easiest option. Our cabbie dropped us off at the end of the line to the entrance of Las Pozas. I had no idea there would be a line. After being in line for about 5 minutes, we saw the sign that said it was a 2 hour wait from that point.

Yikes.

Now, I vaguely remember my Spanish teacher telling me to get to Las Pozas early because it is really busy during the day! Oops.

The rain saved our behinds, in this case. For future reference, I recommend getting there early (sometime before 9 am when they open). Due to the rain, I believe the line moved quicker than it would normally, because we only spent about an hour in line. Adults cost 70 pesos (2018 update). Kids and adults over 65 cost 35 pesos. We were not charged for our children, who were 5 and under at the time.

the author, wearing her brown here in a braid and glasses, stands in front of a waterfall.

My carrier is around my waist. I wore my 4 year old while we waited in line (nap time and wearing her kept her warm). Inside the park, it is not safe to baby wear. The risk of falling is high.

There are also food and souvenir vendors lining the streets. I bought an umbrella and a waterproof bag for my phone (which was on my phone during all of my pictures).

A waterfall.

The same waterfall as above, but without me in the picture.

First, We Went Left

After entering the park, we first went to the left, towards the pools. People were swimming, but I didn’t think it was quite warm enough that day for swimming. I didn’t bring our  swimsuits to the park.

Then, We Went Right

After viewing the pools, we headed back past the entrance in the other direction. That’s where it starts to get weird. “Surreal, crazy garden,” is partly accurate. However, maybe “surreal, crazy structures and art in a jungle” is more accurate. This place exceeded my expectations, even in the rain.

If you aren’t planning on swimming in the pools, going left first is a good idea. It’s a smaller area and you can’t access the rest of the park from it.

Things to Know

There are hundreds of steps. There are narrow places to walk without guardrails, but most don’t feel dangerous. However, be aware that those with mobility issues will not be able to see much of this attraction. Though I did see younger kids than ours, I can’t imagine trying to take a toddler there. It was difficult enough with our 4 and 5 year olds. We were holding their hands for the entirety of our exploration in the park, just in case. Luckily, the rain didn’t make it super slippery, but my husband did slip and fall once near the end of our visit.

My Spanish teacher visited later on the same day and reported falling four times, so be aware that it can be slick!

Distance from Closest Big Cities

From Queretaro, the distance to Xilitla is around 170 miles. It really is going to take 5 hours to drive this distance. Xilitla is around 230 miles from San Luis Potosi and mapping services claim that it will be 4 hour and 45 minute drive. I’d trust these estimates and plan accordingly.

This Post is Picture Heavy for a Reason

Las Pozas is best shown in pictures and even those really don’t do it justice. Photos don’t quite capture to expanse of the park and the structures within. It’s a different kind of adventure park (and wandering around invoked daydreams of being Indiana Jones). Even though the park was built between 1945 and 1984, it seems older.

So, I’m thankful I didn’t know the drive would take 5.5 hours. I’m thankful I didn’t know we’d be driving through the Sierra Gorda mountains and what that would be like. While I want to visit again, we will have to find an alternative route that has less of the steep mountain roads to traverse.

Do I recommend Las Pozas for Families?

YES! I do recommend visiting because it’s amazing. The caveat: you know your kids and whether or not at the age they are if they can handle steps and platforms without guardrails. The good thing about my kid being 4 and 5 during this trip is that they like and are willing to hold our hands. I think this is a great trip for youngish kids in some ways, because the entire family will be taking calculated risks (which is good for development). The hard part is that kids are often fearless and may not realize they are in actual danger. I really wouldn’t want to take a child younger than 4 or 4.5. There is a lot of climbing and it gets tiring. I would feel really uncomfortable carrying a kid in my arms and I wouldn’t dare wear a child in a carrier there.

people standing on a cement platform in the middle of the jungle.

From this angle, this platform is deceptive. First, we couldn’t figure out how to find it. Second, we didn’t want to. It was a platform high in the air, above the jungle.

We only saw a small portion of the park during our visit. Plan for several hours there. There is food outside the park and a restaurant inside. Keep an eye on the weather and plan accordingly. You can buy most anything you’d need, but it is a little expensive at the park.

Go forth and adventure!

Where have you visited that felt unique and special?

 

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