Active Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico | Kuryanovich Tatsiana

Popocatepetl, often referred to as El Popo, is an active stratovolcano located in the states of Puebla and Morelos, in Central Mexico. It is one of Mexico’s most active volcanoes, with 15 major eruptions recorded in history. The name Popocatepetl is derived from the Nahuatl words popōca ‘it smokes’ and tepētl ‘mountain’, thus translating to ‘Smoky Mountain’. Standing at 5,393 meters above sea level, it is the second highest peak in Mexico, second only to Pico de Orizaba.

One of the most significant aspects of Popocatepetl is its location within the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park. This national park, established in 1937, spans over four different Mexican states and covers a staggering 39,819 hectares. The park is named after the two volcanoes that dominate its landscape: Iztaccihuatl and Popocatepetl. The park offers a diverse range of flora and fauna, along with stunning landscapes that attract tourists from around the globe.

Moreover, Popocatepetl serves as an important symbol in Mexican culture and folklore. Its imposing presence has inspired numerous local myths and legends, and it continues to be a source of fascination for scientists and tourists alike. Despite its potential hazards, the volcano’s perennial snow cover makes it a popular spot for mountaineering and hiking.

Popocatepetl is not just an active volcano but also a significant part of Mexico’s natural heritage. Its location within the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park only adds to its allure, offering visitors an opportunity to explore Mexico’s extraordinary biodiversity while taking in the breathtaking views of one of the country’s most iconic landmarks. Despite its fiery nature, Popocatepetl continues to captivate with its icy beauty and towering grandeur.

Fast Facts

Country: Mexico

State/Province: Puebla, Morelos, México

Mountain Range: Popo-Izta Range, Central Mexican Ranges

Parents: Popo-Izta Range, Central Mexican Ranges

Elevation: 17,694 feet / 5,393 meters

Prominence: 9,910 feet / 3,020 meters

Isolation: 89 miles / 143 kilometers

Nearest Higher Neighbor (NHN): Pico de Orizaba

Flora and Fauna

Sunrise on the meadow with Popocatepetl in the background | Victor Vilchis

Popocatepetl, an active volcano located in the heart of Mexico, is not only renowned for its magnificent landscape but also for its unique and diverse flora and fauna. The biodiversity within the region is further protected and nurtured by the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park, which surrounds this impressive volcano.

The Popocatepetl region is home to a wide variety of plant species that have adapted to the harsh volcanic soil and climate. This includes several types of pine trees, such as the Hartweg’s pine, and the oyamel fir tree, a species endemic to Mexico’s high-altitude regions. Other flora includes various species of grasses, ferns, and mosses that contribute to the lush greenery of the area.

The fauna in the Popocatepetl region is equally diverse and fascinating. It ranges from small insects and reptiles to larger mammals. Some notable species include the Mexican volcano mouse and the volcano rabbit, both of which are endemic to the trans-volcanic belt of Mexico. The Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park also protects several bird species such as the Bumblebee Hummingbird and the Red Warbler.

The Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park plays a vital role in preserving the unique biodiversity of the Popocatepetl region. It has established strict measures to protect the area’s natural resources, thereby ensuring that future generations can enjoy and appreciate the rich flora and fauna found here. In a broader sense, this national park symbolizes Mexico’s commitment to environmental conservation and biodiversity protection.

Popocatepetl’s flora and fauna are a testament to nature’s resilience and adaptability. Despite being in a volcanic region with harsh conditions, life thrives in various forms, adding to the beauty and allure of Popocatepetl. The Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park enhances this allure by ensuring that these natural wonders are preserved for posterity.


Popocatépetl is one of Mexico’s most iconic natural wonders – a towering, active volcano located in the states of Puebla, Morelos, and Mexico in Central Mexico. Its name, derived from the Nahuatl words for smoking mountain, gives a hint of the awe-inspiring nature that awaits those who visit this region. The area around Popocatépetl is replete with trails that offer breathtaking views and challenging hikes. One of the most renowned areas for hiking near Popocatépetl is the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park.

The Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park in Mexico is home to some of the best trails near Popocatépetl. These trails range from short, easy hikes perfect for families and beginners, to more challenging routes that attract experienced hikers and mountaineers from around the world. One of the most popular trails in the park is the Paso de Cortés trail. This trail offers stunning panoramic views of both Popocatépetl and its twin volcano Iztaccíhuatl, making it a must-visit for any outdoor enthusiast.

Aside from Paso de Cortés, there are several other trails in Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park that offer unique views and experiences. The La Joya trail, for instance, takes hikers through alpine meadows and past ancient lava flows, while the Ayoloco Glacier trail offers a more challenging trek up to one of Iztaccíhuatl’s glaciers.

The trails near Popocatépetl in the Izta-Popo Zoquiapan National Park in Mexico offer a diverse range of hiking experiences that cater to all skill levels. They provide not only physical challenges but also an opportunity to appreciate the stunning natural beauty of one of Mexico’s most iconic landscapes. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, these trails promise an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

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