The Desierto de los Leones National Park (Parque Nacional Desierto de los Leones) is the city’s oldest national park and a true respite from too much city.
Named for the Carmelite monastery that makes up the very heart of the forest, today it’s a wild land, still largely untouched, and replete with the kinds of outdoor attractions and activities for which national parks are famous the world over. The park takes up an enormous stretch of land between the alcaldias of Cuajimalpa and Alvaro Obregon, and only some 19% of that is accessible to the public.
Weekends the park plays host to cultural and artistic events, sporting competitions and spaces for exercise, and celebrations of food and family. It’s also among the city’s first choices for running, bicycling, and hiking.
With a temperate climate, it’s often cloudy with rain at the height of summer. Forest growth includes fir, ash, oak and these are populated by seven species of amphibians, nine reptiles, and about 30 different mammals. Bird species number more than 100.
Considered the oldest protected biosphere in Mexico, the area was declared a forest reserve in 1876 by President Lerdo de Tejada who intended to protect the fresh water springs supplying the city. Venustiano Carranza finally declared it a national park on 27 November 1917.