We were invited to tag along with some friends on a day trip into the Sierra de Lobos, a mountain range that is adjacent to Leon and extends north into Jalisco. That spontaneous invitation also included another set of friends who were happy to get out of the city for the day. Within minutes of departing from our home, we left the pavement and drove down a beat-up dirt road that looked like it didn’t go anywhere except to the surrounding farms. We never imagined where that road would lead us.
As we followed the lead car in our minivan, we forded a couple of small rivers that, thankfully, were not very deep where we needed to cross. The dirt road was very narrow in most places, and meandered through small towns and collections of houses. After about 30 minutes of bumping along the road, we found pavement again and, while the road was not in great shape, it was better than the dirt road. We continued to wind our way through the dry mountains where the views of the scrub around us and the city behind us were spectacular.
Eventually, we found the small town of Comanja de Corona. The streets and the buildings were quaint and characteristic of the small villages we have seen when traveling across Mexico. We wound through the town and then out the other side, following signs for a hotel, campground, and spa called Echological. As we approached, a giant, monolithic rock hill became visible. The name of this monolith is Peña de la Bufa. It dwarfed the countryside around it. My children were impressed and very excited about climbing to the top. When we arrived, the small hotel parking lot was quiet and calm. We had packed our lunches and decided to leave everything in the cars in favor of immediately getting out and hiking to the top of the giant rock structure. In order to access the rock hill, we had to cross onto private property. The man that opened the gate and admitted us charged us 10 pesos (50 cents US) for each adult. He said children were free. Once inside the property, there were a few nice Australian shepherds running around and requesting attention from everyone. The farm looked well kept and the men were very nice and welcoming.
We started our climb and realized quickly that while it was not a difficult hike to the top, the footing was precarious because there was so much loose rock. The view from the top was beautiful. This is the highest point for miles, so it was easy to see the landscape and the other small farms that dotted the countryside. Our children (and the adults) enjoyed scaling every inch of the rock hill. It was a great deal of fun to explore the area. I think the kids could have stayed out there playing and jumping around the rocks for hours.
But we eventually descended back into the farmyard where an adorable Australian shepherd puppy was waiting and starving for attention. To say that our children were enchanted would be an understatement. We all had a difficult time leaving. We enjoyed conversing with the farm hands while the kids played with the puppy and the dogs.
When it was finally time for us to leave, the puppy also made his escape under the fence and ran after us. Sadly, we had to return him. The hike back to the hotel was easy and very scenic. When we returned to Echological, we retrieved our coolers and claimed one of the tarp-covered areas next to the river. It was nice and cool in the shade and there was plenty of room for the kids to run around and play.
After lunch, there was a lot to explore in the area. The hotel inside served tea and coffee (café olla, specifically, made with piloncillo and cinnamon, and served in a clay mug). They also had hand-crafted jewelry for sale. Several salon services are offered at this hotel/campground such as massage, a jacuzzi, and a steam room (called a Temazcal). For people that are staying at Echological or visitors without a picnic lunch, the hotel offers a substantial breakfast buffet until 12 PM as well as La Comida later in the afternoon.
My friend and I decided to go horseback riding for a half hour while the children and our husbands took turns rowing the boat around the river. It had been several years since I had last ridden a horse. Unfortunately, the horse I chose seemed to know this and, for the first 5 minutes of our ride, did the opposite of everything I wanted him to do. However, I rose to the challenge successfully and did not get thrown off of the horse or scraped up on the thorny bushes and cacti bordering the road, thank goodness. I do not recommend horseback riding here unless the person has some experience. The horses are not acquiescent to the demands of inexperienced riders.
We decided to leave later on in the afternoon once our children showed signs of exhaustion. We packed up our belongings and our tired children and headed out. On the way home, we stopped at a small bakery in the town of Comanja de Corona to buy sweet bread. It was wonderful, soft, and fresh out of the oven. It put everyone in a great mood for the return trip through the mountains. It was a lovely day spent with friends! Next time, we will stay at the hotel to see what it is like.
Once again, we were shown just how amazing Mexico can be when we leave behind our fear and explore places that are off the beaten path. Thanks for reading!