Unlocking Tapalpa Jalisco’s Secrets: A Bucket List Journey

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Unlocking Tapalpa Jalisco’s Secrets: A Bucket List Journey

In the foothills of its mountain range, the Magical Town of Tapalpa Jalisco welcomes tourists with its natural and architectural beauties and the friendliness of its people.

If you’re looking for a place in Mexico with a forest landscape and mountains and stay in a cabin or country house with red tiles, Tapalpa is ideal.

Tapalpa was granted the title of Magical Town in 2002, and ever since, it has received many tourists from different countries.

The meaning of the name is “Place of colored land” and is distinguished by its beautiful landscape, fresh climate, fresh air, cobblestone streets, and colorful facades that date back to ancient Mexico.

Where is Tapalpa Jalisco?

Tapalpa is a town in Jalisco in the municipality of the same name, located in the state’s center.

Its rural environment, architectural beauties, historical sites, and natural landscapes have made it one of the favorite destinations for tourists from Guadalajara and the western part of the country.

Tapalpa was incorporated into the Mexican system of Magical Towns to promote the tourist use of its many charms.

If you’re in Guadalajara, you must travel 132 km south on the Colima highway.

Its almost 2,100 meters above sea level altitude gives Tapalpa a cool climate.

The average annual temperature is 16° C; in the warmer months, from May to September, it can rise to 22° C.

There may be occasional hot spells, but hardly ever above 27° C.

In the cooler months, from December to February, the average temperature drops to 12, although it can get as cold as 5° C. 

Tapalpa Jalisco: Top 9 things to see

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This charming town combines architectural beauty with places and parks to practice ecological tourism in areas of incomparable beauty.

An introductory tour of Tapalpa should include the historic center, its typical houses and temples, and some testimonies of industrial archeology.

Such as the ruins of the Paper Mill and the Foundry, located in communities very close to the town.

For the delight of the senses and the enjoyment of outdoor entertainment, there is the Salto and Presa del Nogal, the Hacienda La Media Luna, Las Piedrotas (big stones), the Ekopark, and the Los Frailes Natural Park.

The rich gastronomy of Tapalpa and its varied handicrafts complete the picture for the full enjoyment of visitors.

1. Stroll the historic Center of Tapalpa Jalisco

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Tapalpa is a town of cozy cobblestone streets that make you walk around while appreciating its large houses with canopies, wooden balconies, and the two main temples.

The Municipal Market is on one side of the square, with all the color and variety these Mexican spaces offer.

A little further up, you will find the House of Culture and the Sculpture Garden, which exhibits works by artists Sebastian and Alejandro Colunga.

In front of Tapalpa’s Main Square is the old church of San Antonio de Padua, the oldest in the town, located next to the parish church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

It also has a small museum of sacred art that exhibits some pieces used in Christian worship for about 4 centuries.

It was built in the 17th century by the Franciscan friars who evangelized the region, and as an interesting fact, it preserves its original mesquite floor.

On one side of the temple is a historical and religious mural, the work of the artist José Manuel Caballero y Bernal.

2. Visit the Temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Some priests stay almost all their lives in a parish, becoming spiritual references and citizens of the town.

Father Cipriano Gonzalez officiated in Tapalpa for more than 44 years and faced the physical deterioration of the church of San Antonio.

Under the priest’s leadership, the town organized to build a new church, and the first stone was laid in 1950.

Each week, the most humble parishioners donated 20 cents; cattle and other animals were raffled; others contributed their labor.

The temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe was finished in 1970, and one of its peculiarities is that it is made entirely of brick, without cladding.

3. Explore the Hacienda La Media Luna

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This hacienda is a place that offers the particular charm of its desolation and its history as the scene of inspiration of Juan Rulfo, the most important and original novelist of Mexican literature.

The old hacienda of La Media Luna is located about 10 minutes from Tapalpa in the community of Lagunillas.

It is said that Rulfo imagined Pedro Páramo riding through its grounds and doing other things in the famous literary work.

In front of the hacienda, there is a lagoon where you can practice sports fishing, and maybe you will be lucky and catch a tilapia or a lobina.

4. Admire Tapalpa’s waterfall, “El Salto del Nogal”

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It is the largest waterfall in Jalisco, at 107 meters.

This beautiful waterfall, located about 10 km from the Magical Town, is reached after a pleasant 40-minute walk among bromeliads, paxtles, and other species of the local flora.

On the way to Salto del Nogal is the smaller Molino waterfall.

You can practice various mountain activities in the waterfall and its fantastic surroundings, such as rappelling, biking, hiking, fishing, and horseback riding.

5. Visit the Ekopark

The Ekopark is an ecological development for the practice of adventure sports located less than 10 km from Tapalpa.

The most exciting thing about the park is its zip lines, 9 in total, of different lengths, the longest being close to 300 meters.

The descent lines reach more than 25 meters above the Sierra de Tapalpa Jalisco treetops, and you can reach a speed of 50 km per hour.

The hike to reach the exit points of the zip lines takes place among the beauty of the mountain scenery.

You can also go rappelling, climbing, hiking, biking, riding ATVs, and camping.

6. The Big Stones: Tapalpa’s landmark

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tapalpa jalisco mexico

This beautiful and mysterious sector is also called the Valley of the Enigmas because of the curious and enormous rock formations found there; no one knows how they got there.

Beautiful natural spaces surround las Piedrotas (the big stones), and from its location, there are spectacular views of the confines of the valley.

One version states that they were meteorites that fell millions of years ago, and another that they are formations that emerged from the earth and have been sculpted by air and water erosion.

The Big Stones have become popular among enthusiasts of the extraordinary powers of nature for their supposed condition of generating positive energies.

7. The Paper Mill

This abandoned paper mill was the first to start operating in Latin America on the road to Chiquilistlán and Las Piedrotas, 2 km from Tapalpa.

It was built in 1840 by English investors, who constructed an industrial building in stone and red brick, whose vestiges stand out among the vegetation.

The La Conquista paper mill was in operation until 1923 when it closed during the turbulent final years of the Mexican Revolution.

8. Los Frailes Natural Park

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Another place of genuine interest in Tapalpa Jalisco is this park about 9 km north of town.

The rock formations that give the site its name resemble monks in an attitude of recollection as if they were praying.

They are located on the highest hill near Tapalpa, making them a natural viewpoint with excellent panoramic views to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.

You can practice various outdoor activities in the park, such as climbing, rappelling, hiking, and ATV riding.

9. Foundry de Ferrería

Some of the bells that still ring in Tapalpa and other nearby towns, as well as several fountains and bronze pieces that adorn streets and houses, were manufactured in the foundry that operated in the community of Ferrería de Tula.

This foundry also produced several km of railroad tracks used by the Mexican railroads between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Ferrería Foundry operated between 1873 and the early 1900s. Its ruins are still preserved and can be distinguished among the green foliage.

Other attractions near Tapalpa Jalisco

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Atacco Church

About 3 km from Tapalpa is the picturesque community of Atacco, which was the place where the Franciscan friars began the evangelization of this area of Jalisco.

On the initiative of the Franciscans, the Indian Hospital was built, which is still preserved, where the Indians received attention as far as the medicine of that time allowed.

Atacco, which means “Place where the water is born” in the indigenous language, is reached through a dirt road.

It has a simple spa whose waters are provided by the hot springs that explain the Indian name of the town.

Get some handicrafts

tapalpa jalisco mexico
Beautiful and unique “Ocochal” handicrafts

The artisans of Tapalpa practice various activities that go from textiles to pottery, including saddlery, furniture, and the curious ocochal.

The art of the ocochal is worked with the needles of the pine trees known as chino and teocote, which are turned into bread baskets, tortilla holders, fruit bowls, piggy banks, jewelry boxes, and other delicate handicrafts of a striking brown color.

They make jorongos (ponchos), blankets, backpacks, and other unicolor or multicolored pieces in old handmade looms.

They also work with recycled paper flower painting, wood carvings, colonial furniture, saddles, and huaraches (sandals).

Try the local food

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Local lamb ranch

We say in Mexico that the best lamb al pastor is served in Tapalpa.

It must be that the oranges used to marinate the meat and the oak wood used in the cooking give it a unique flavor, which is not achieved with ingredients from other places.

The chard tamales and enchiladas are other typical dishes that the people of Tapalpa eat across town.

When it’s time for dessert, you must try the “pegoste de durazno,” the sweet that symbolizes Tapalpa. Typical beverages include rompope, pomegranate punch, and pulque.


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Mexican Independence Day parade on September 16

The festivities of the Virgin of Guadalupe are celebrated between January 4 and 13, with religious processions, fireworks, music, and typical dances.

Every year, the Virgen de la Defensa makes a pilgrimage from Juanacatlán to Tapalpa, a more than 150-year-old tradition.

The virgin arrives on the first Saturday of July, and the festivity is celebrated until the first Saturday of September, when the image returns to its original temple.

Another moving festivity in Tapalpa is the Pilgrimage of the Absent Sons, held on a Sunday closest to January 12.

The festivities in honor of San Antonio de Padua are from July 11 to 13.

Where to Stay in Tapalpa Jalisco

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Tapalpa Country Club – Source: Booking.com/tapalpacountryclub

Although there are several places to stay in Tapalpa, these are the 3 top choices based on personal experience and visitor reviews.

  • Hotel El Remanso, on the shore of the Tapalpa lake, is a nicely decorated lodging with a beautiful pool, delicious breakfast, and excellent service.
  • Hotel Tapalpa Country Club is a mountain establishment located at km 4.5 on the road to Chiquilistlan and has comfortable rooms with fireplaces and a beautiful lake
  • Hotel Casona de Manzano is located in a beautiful colonial house at Francisco Madero 84, is run by its owner and has an interior courtyard full of plants

Where to eat?

  • Madre Tierra Restaurant receives the best compliments for its delicious food and excellent coffee; it is located in front of the Main Square
  • El Vergel, at km 2.6 on the road to San Gabriel, on the way to the Nogal Dam, is a country house located in the middle of a cozy grove, and its menu offers Mexican dishes with the chef’s touches, such as duck confit tacos and lamb al pastor
  • La Mezcalera, at km 2.5 on the road to Atemajac de Brizuela, has on its menu lamb al pastor, quail, moronga, delicious beans, and fresh handmade tortillas
  • You can also have a good time at Paulinas, Los Girasoles, and El Árbol de la Culebra.

Tapalpa Jalisco, Mexico: Final Thoughts

As you have learned today, Tapalpa is a hidden gem waiting to be explored by adventurous souls and nature lovers.

From its breathtaking natural landscapes to its rich cultural heritage and adrenaline-pumping activities, Tapalpa offers an unforgettable experience for travelers of all kinds.

Whether you’re hiking through its lush forests, immersing in the local traditions, or simply indulging in its culinary delights, this charming town has something to offer everyone.

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  1. Are there hot springs in Atacco? If so are they open to the public? The internet is very confusing and there is a place spelled Attacco. Are they one in the same?

    1. Hi Eg,

      Atacco is correct. It is a charming little town just 3 km south of Tapalpa with cool weather and full of nature. However, the hot springs are no longer available at the moment.

      Safe travels!

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