Hiking the Petroglyphs at Alta Vista

The petroglyphs at Alta Vista are well worth visiting. They are located about 35 minutes north of Rincón de Guayabitos and La Peñita. There, one can hike the ancient trails of the Huichol Indians at the archeological site of La Pila del Rey (The King’s Fountain) along the Las Piletas Creek and El Copo Volcano. Although it is not the largest, it is considered the most complex site of its kind in the state of Nayarit. To this day, local Mestizos and Huichol Indians still worship here.

The windy dirt road into Alta Vista takes you past agricultural fields and cow pastures. The road is lined with a barbed-wire fence and large trees which provide a shaded canopy nearly the entire way.

If you look closer, you’ll notice that many of the fence posts are living Papelillo trees (commonly known as a Gringo trees because of their red peeling bark) and Kapok trees (also called Ceiba) with woody spines covering their trunks. Once you get to the “Y” in the road, the trip becomes a little more interesting. The road is completely washed out at this point (likely from the heavy rains a few years ago), so you’ll need to park your car and walk the rest of the way.

 
(Thanks to Louann Debbaut for these two photos.)

The hike to the entrance of the petroglyphs takes about 20 minutes. The route is not marked and is sometimes difficult to find. Sections of the road are cobblestones, but most are dirt with deep potholes and grooves. You’ll make your way over the creek and through the woods… literally.

The cattle gate we used to go through is now secured, so we opted to take a right (after crossing the creek shown here) and followed a narrow unworn path. Luckily, it took us in the right direction. As far as I know, this is the only way to get here (once inside, I asked Juan Carlos who maintains the property, and he confirmed that this is the only entrance).

The entrance is marked with a barbed wire fence. Years ago, we were told that it was to keep the cows out, but since we came across several piles of fresh cow manure along our hike, it made me wonder if wasn’t actually to keep the cows “in” instead. Juan Carlos does a nice job of keeping the paths clear and provides several walking sticks for those who want to use them. The entrance fee is $20 pesos.


My good friend Louann, who was excited about hiking the petroglyphs for the first time.

There are 15 green signs, like the one shown here, posted along the self-guided trail which provide hikers with interesting information about the archeological site, the petroglyphs (rock carvings), as well as a little history of the area and its people.

To learn more about the archeological site and the information posted on the signs, read Part 2 entitled “The Signs at the Petroglyphs at Alta Vista.”

At times, the path can be somewhat rugged. In fact, there were a few places that I had to stop and look around to figure out which direction the path actually went. I have never hiked here this early in the season, and found there to be a lot of fallen palm fronds and debris covering the path, which at times made it challenging to find my way.

There are several beautifully preserved petroglyphs of crosses, the “Maiz Man” (shown below) and other symbols.

You may also see a few sacrificial sites along the way, like this one located near the waterfall.

 
(Thanks to Louann Debbaut for these two photos.)

If you go early in the season, you can still hear the sound of trickling water near the waterfall. It is a beautiful, tranquil and magical place to visit.

 

Here are a few random nature photos I couldn’t help but include as well…

The entire trip took us approximately 3 hours. It was sunny and especially hot that afternoon, and I have to admit, we were hoping someone would meet us at the end with a few ice cold beers!

What to Bring: Bring your camera, a hat, good walking shoes and a bottle of water, along with sunscreen and bug spray. For the best experience, we recommend hiring an English-speaking guide not only to explain the signage and answer questions, but to lead you on the correct path.

Getting There: From Rincón de Guayabitos or La Peñita, go north on Highway 200. Currently, there is not a road sign marking the entrance to Alta Vista when coming from the south (there is a sign from the north), so watch for the sign to Lima de Abajo and take the next right. The road into Alta Vista is windy and a bit rugged, so a 4-wheel vehicle is a good idea, although not totally necessary. It will take about 15 minutes to get to the “Y” in the road. Because the road has been washed out, you’ll need to park your car and walk the rest of the way.

This story was submitted by one of our regular contributors. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Tosia@JaltembaBayLife.com

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9 Reviews on “Hiking the Petroglyphs at Alta Vista”

  1. :

    I can't figure out how do I subscribe for your weblog

    1. :

      You can subscribe via this link: http://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin/ea?v=001RitBbfaXOpmVEb2iSx85wA%3D%3D

  2. :

    My husband and I are going to stay at the Decameron in Guayabitos in March this year. It will be his first time there, but my fifth as I love it there so much. We would love to take this hike with an English speaking guide, does anyone know who we could contact or ask to take us when we get there?

    1. :

      Try contacting Sergio's Tours via our website... http://explorenayarit.com/sergio-tours

  3. :

    My Husband, Ernie along with our daughter, Sherry, son-in-law, Kyle, and our 13 year old granddaughter, Brianna did this tour a few weeks ago. From where we had to leave the vehicle, it took us at least 4 hours on a very hot day. It was worth every step, even though many of them were not easy for me. Our friend, Manny Alvarado, was our driver & guide and he speaks great English! :) The petraglyphs are fascinating. When we arrived at the King's Basin, Bri & I went for a swim! Hope that is not a NO-NO. The water was cold and SO beautifully refreshing! It re-energized me for that long walk back. This is a remarkable adventure & I am proud I was able to do it! We,too were dreaming of cold beer. Next time.

  4. :

    Hello Ally, beautiful photos. You must to know that the circular pattern means, " The eternity of God, Life and Movement" the name in nahuatl is Nahui Ollin. In past years, there was a Petroglifos Museum at Zacualpan, Nay. near Las Varas. Greetings. Lourdes.

  5. :

    I hope Toshia will take us there Judy

  6. :

    Lovely photos and article. Am really missing being in Mexico so having morning coffee while looking at this article really helps.

  7. :

    What a fabulous way to wake up this morning! We visited the site last year for the first time, and it is near the top of my list of things to do! On the cocuntdown for Nayarit 2013! Thank you.

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