Tlaxcala is the smallest state in Mexico, but a big draw for outdoor enthusiasts who are attracted by La Malinche National Park with a snow-capped, dormant volcano at its heart. Just a short drive from Mexico City, Tlaxcala--the state and its capital share the same name--is also home to several fascinating, little-visited archaeological sites, including Cacaxtla, noted for its pre-Colombian murals.
Tlaxcala is 66 miles east of Mexico City's international airport and just 20 miles from the city of Puebla. The city is located on a high plain, surrounded by several iconic mountains including the second highest volcano in North America--Mount Pocaptepetl at 17,802 feet, and its neighbor, Mount Ixtaccihuatl, at 17,159 feet.
Named after the Aztec female slave given to the conquistador Hernan Cortes, La Malinche is a now dormant volcano, rising to 14,636 feet just 15 miles southeast of the city of Tlaxcala.
Climbers, hikers and nature lovers flock to La Malinche National Park year-round to climb the mountain. The hike is an easy one, but there are more challenging alternative routes. Mountain bikers and runners also explore the park's numerous trails.
Inside the national park is the Centro Vacacional, a popular facility that includes campsites, huts with bathrooms facilities, a restaurant, shop and even a bar. There are primitive campsites in quieter corners of the park, plus small hotels in surrounding communities. More luxurious accommodations can be found in Tlaxcala and nearby Puebla.
Tlaxcala was an important stop on trade routes between the Aztec capital, now modern-day Mexico City, and the Yucatan in pre-Colombian times. The well-preserved murals at Cacaxtla, 12 miles west of Tlaxcala, are thought to reflect a Mayan influence.
Article Written By Robin Thornley
Robin Thornley has been a successful writer for more than 25 years, penning articles for national magazines, newspapers and websites. She specializes in a variety of topics, including business, politics, lifestyle trends, travel and cuisine. She also is the author of two guidebooks.