La Joya Honda; San Luis Potosí’s Secret Natural Wonder
November 10, 2017
Coming from the flatlands of the midwest B and I were instantly mesmerized with the mountain ranges that surround San Luis Potosí. Not being a city girl and having a strong need to be surrounded by nature I was quick to ask the locals about hiking routes nearby, only to be told that there weren’t any and that it wasn’t safe to hike in the area.
After almost a year had gone by (read more about our expat story) and we had slowly come to terms that the only hiking we were going to be doing was at Tangamanga Park. However, our new energetic puppy needed a spot to release his energy and as you know dogs are not allowed in many of the parks in the area, so we were left to our own devices.
Bobby researched some hiking apps and sure enough, there was one with SLP hiking trails… WikiLoc, like Wiki Location. There are probably around 100 trails in the area for hiking and we have made it our goal to try a new hike once a week. Hopefully documenting these hikes will make them more accessible to others in the area.
Only 40 kilometers from SLP La Joya Honda was formed more than 1 million years ago and boasts a width of 800 meters and a depth of 200 meters, For those that do know about the crater, there has been legends and stories that have been passed down about the causes of the formation of the crater.
La Joya Honda has been the source of legends and mystery ever since and people in the nearby communities have passed down stories for generations. According to legend, the crater has housed bandits, witches, created by a meteorite and also happens to be where UFOs tend to land from time to time.
Following these legends and theories, NASA came to investigate and carry out a study on La Joya Honda. It ruled out any possibility that the crater had been formed by a meteorite or that an extraterrestrial may have landed here. The crater was found to be produced by an explosion of underground water, which is why it is classified as a maar-type crater. La Joya Honda is also considered a sacred place by the Huachichil people who used to inhabit the region and called the crater Xalapasco meaning “waterless crater”.
Our drive to La Joya Honda became an adventure in itself, finding ourselves first on private property and receiving multiple conflicting directions on how to get there. Again citing another example of Mexican politeness, giving directions even if they don’t where they are directing you. We followed the friendliest guy in a pickup for a while and then drove through herds of cows and up rocky paths.
I’ll save you from all the details of our mini-adventure and in turn offer you a much more efficient way to get there. You can download the hike here in Wikiloc and it will give you the exact GPS location (pictured below).
The pin represents where the correct location of the road that will lead you to the crater. The first flag is where we parked at. There will be corresponding photos for each of the flags in Wikiloc.
After driving over an hour on some dirt trails, we arrived at a point that no longer driveable. We parked the car and started to walk the rest of the way in. As we were walking we had passed a herd of cows and bulls grazing in the grass. Something I wasn’t too concerned about because I have never had a scary cow encounter and we had just passed a lot of cows on the trail. I heard a thump and turned around to see a white bull about 20 feet from me stomping his foot into the dirt. I started to walk more quickly and then burst into a run when I heard the herd of cows/bulls moving towards me.
I was being chased by bulls and was sure I was going to die right then and there… death by cow. I was screaming B’s name and looking back to make sure my 3-month-old puppy was following me. I searched for trees to hide behind or climb up anything. Before I knew it the cows were running right past me and not trampling my head into the dust. I was shaking and have dubbed this encounter as the scariest event of my time in Mexico.
As we neared the crater we saw empty shells of buildings surrounding the area. Finding out after some research that Mexico was trying to turn the crater into an ecotourism park. I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t succeed, possibly because they failed at getting the word out about the crater (I have met few locals who have ever heard of the crater) or simply because it is difficult to drive to.
There were a few other people walking around the crater at the top, but no-one seemed to be interested in traversing down the rickety wooden steps 600 feet to the bottom of the crater. Once the wooden steps ended you have to continue hiking down a hill covered in gravel. Every step causing you to slide about 6 inches and reaching for something to hold on to. Be mindful of where you put your hands, a fistful of cacti will make the rest of your trip pretty miserable.
After getting to the bottom of the crater there is a small trail that snakes throughout the area. It ends abruptly forcing you to turn around and head back. Watch out for pickers and red ant hills, B found himself standing in one and had a few painful bites.
We also found these clusters of air plants in the crater, which amazed me. I totally used to pay $8 for a single air plant in the USA and there were easily 500-1000 on an individual tree.
That tree on the left was covered in air plants. Amazing.
When to Go
I would stick to daylight hours since the crater is pretty isolated and there are no street lamps whatsoever. You also don’t want to be driving on the roads at night because there are quite a few reverse topes and hitting those unaware would do some major damage to your vehicle.
How Long Should I Spend at La Joya Honda?
I would recommend a few hours if you are interested in walking around the perimeter of the crater, trekking down into the crater and exploring a bit.
How to Get There
Use our wikiloc map to direct you to the location it is the easiest way to get there. I would also recommend taking some type of 4 wheel drive vehicle as well.
What to Bring
I would recommend bringing sunblock, a hat, water, and possibly some snacks. If you want to be extra careful I would bring a first aid kit and possibly a snake kit. Our pup spotted a snake pictured below. Still not sure what type of snake it was.