Nevado de Toluca: Nevado de Toluca National Park (Mexico)

Nevado de Toluca: Nevado de Toluca National Park (Mexico)

Mon, 04/18/2022 - 17:13
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Nevado de Toluca National Park protects the Nevado de Toluca volcano which forms nearly the entire park surface and is the fourth highest peak in Mexico. The volcano is still commonly referred to by its Aztec name "Xinantécatl".

Nevado de Toluca

Nevado de Toluca, although still commonly referred to by its Aztec name "Xinantécatl", is a stratovolcano located in the State of Mexico, between the valleys of Toluca and Tenango (Valle del Matlatzinco). It is located about 22 km (14 mi) southwest of Toluca and about 80 km (50 mi) west of Mexico City. The volcano and the area around it are now a National Park.

Nevado de Toluca reaches an elevation of 4,680 m (15,354 ft) asl, making it the fourth highest formation in Mexico. The mountain is located within the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

The volcano has a wide summit caldera that is open to the east. The highest summit, the 4,680-m (15,354-ft) Pico del Fraile (Friar's Peak), is on the southwest side of the crater and the second-highest, the 4,640-m (15,223-ft) Pico del Aguila (Eagle's Peak), is on the northwest.

There are two crater lakes on the floor of the basin at about 4,200 m (13,800 ft), the larger Lago del Sol (Sun Lake) and the smaller, but deeper, Lago de la Luna (Moon Lake).

Geologists and Volcanologists believe that Nevado de Toluca may have once been as tall as Popocatepetl, but a huge eruption about 25,000 years ago may have reduced the summit height by up to 900 m (3,000 ft). There have been no major eruptions in the last 10,000 years.

Nevado de Toluca National Park

Nevado de Toluca National Park is located southwest of the city of Toluca, Mexico State. It was decreed a National Park in 1936, primarily to protect the Nevado de Toluca volcano, which forms nearly the park's entire surface and is the fourth highest peak in Mexico.

Extending over 51,000 ha (126,000 acres), and including parts of twelve municipalities, Nevado de Toluca National Park was established for conservation purposes but the area is under increasing pressure from the growth of the Toluca metropolitan area as well as from illegal logging.

The volcano has been long extinct and has a large crater in which are two shallow lakes. The crater and lakes are popular with visitors from Mexico State and Mexico City, especially when there is snow.

The volcano's watersheds feed a number of freshwater springs and streams, but the capacity of this watershed is being compromised the erosion and deforestation.

There are a number of archeological sites in the National Park, including the lakes themselves, which contain numerous offerings of copal and other items that were deposited during the pre-Hispanic period.

The park offers activities such as hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding as well as limited skiing facilities.

Flora and Fauna

Most of the park is sparsely forested with firs, pines and broadleaved trees dominating. Firs are mostly found at the lower levels of the park in an area known as the Peña Ahumada in the northeast section and in some higher levels areas just under the tree line. Most of the broad-leaved trees are found in the piedmont area at the lowest elevations.

On the mountain slopes are large extensions of pine trees. The area above the tree line up to the crater is dominated by alpine meadows and grasslands. These plant communities are an important reserve of endemic species.

Animal life includes opossums, coyotes, squirrels, reptiles, rabbits, and birds.