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What is Tapalpa Jalisco Known For? Best Things to Do

  • Joel CZ 
  • 12 min read
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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 since then, 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 central sector of the state.

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

The average annual temperature is 16° C, and in the warmer months, from May to September, the thermometer consistently averages below 19° 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 to12, although it can get as cold as 5° C. 

Tapalpa Jalisco main attractions

tapalpa jalisco
Green landscape during a cloudy day in Tapalpa, Jalisco – Source: Francisco J Ramos Gallego / shutterstock.com

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.

Historic Center of Tapalpa Jalisco

tapalpa jalisco
Source: Paco Robles M / shutterstock.com

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.

Visit the Temple of Our Lady of Guadalupe

tapalpa jalisco
Source: Noradoa / shutterstock.com

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.

What’s in the Hacienda La Media Luna?

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.

Explore Tapalpa’s waterfall “El Salto del Nogal”

tapalpa jalisco
Source: Joe Ferrer / shutterstock.com

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 beautiful and invigorating walk of about 40 minutes 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.

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.

The Big Stones: Tapalpa’s landmark

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Aerial view of the Big Stones – Source: Oscar_999 / shutterstock.com

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 the generation of positive energies.

The Paper Mill

On the road to Chiquilistlán and Las Piedrotas, 2 km from Tapalpa, is this abandoned paper mill that was the first to start operating in Latin America.

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.

What is Los Frailes Natural Park like?

Another place of genuine interest worth visiting in Tapalpa Jalisco is this park, located about 9 km north of the 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 in the vicinity of 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.

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, and today its ruins are still preserved and can be distinguished among the green foliage.

Other attractions near Tapalpa Jalisco

talpa jalisco
Atacco Church – Source: Francisco J Ramos Gallego / shutterstock.com

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

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).

Tapalpa Jalisco: Try the local food

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Local lamb ranch – Source: Lorenza Ochoa / Shutterstock.com

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

Main festivities

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 years 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, which is held on the Sunday closest to January 12.

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

Best lodging options in Tapalpa Jalisco

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.

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