Rancho Santa Elena is located near Huasca, Hidalgo 119 kilometers (about 2.5 hour drive) north of Mexico City in a mountain range called the Sierra de las Navajas. It is a large forest reserve that consists of dense pine and oak with three lakes and many streams; this ecosystem houses 18 species of amphibians and reptiles, >86 bird species, and >17 mammals. The climate is temperate with an annual average temperature of 14.5 C (58.1F) with the coldest month between -3 and 18 C and the warmest month less than 22 C. The annual rainfall is 770 mm with an average precipitation of the 160mm during the wettest month (September) and 10 mm during the driest month (December).
Santa Elena is a private forest reserve that offers outdoor activities, ecotourism, and adventures that cater to active families and groups. There are seven sites throughout the park that offer secluded, eco-friendly camping with an accessible water supply, tent-covered tables, fire pit with firewood provided, recycling/garbage, and clean outdoor toilets. Hundreds of miles of marked trails are maintained for running, hiking, and all levels of mountain biking. Large basalt rock formations throughout the forest provide beginning to advanced options for rock climbing and rappelling. In addition, the lake offers activities, such as fishing, (cold) swimming, and kayaking. In case that isn’t enough excitement, they have a zip line that ends in one of the lakes is as well.
If you are not inclined to camp, there are other accommodation options available. The Estancia house can sleep up to 37 people and the Cabana can accommodate 15 people. Each of these cabins have bunk beds, fireplaces, and hot water baths available 24 hours a day. The shared water closet has five toilets and five showers in gender specified bathrooms. If you prefer a little more privacy, there are also new private bungalows suitable for two people, each with a private bathroom.
The dining room has capacity for 40 people and is a large, rustic kitchen where homemade, healthy food is prepared. This option is also available to the campers, but as everything in Santa Elena, this must be requested prior to your arrival.
When you choose to vacation in Rancho Santa Elena (which you absolutely should), don’t forget to bring your hiking boots, climbing gear, biking helmet/gloves, wet suit (if you plan to swim much), warm clothing and layers, camera, and your sense of adventure. And don’t forget your dog!
***As Santa Elena is very eco-oriented, the electricity to the cabins, bathrooms, and dining room is provided by solar panels.
- Kayaks and life jackets are provided for free.
- Firewood is provided for camping.
- Bikes are available for rent; request in advance. Helmets and biking gloves are required.
- Guide services are available for walks, interpretive trails, rappelling, and mountain biking.
- Tents for 20 people are available for rent.
- Dogs are allowed for a small additional fee.