Last updateFri, 27 Nov 2020 10am

Exploring Mascota: Search for Malpais Park and a tour of Juanacatlán Lagoon

Mascota is a charming little town located three-fourths of the way between Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta as the crow flies.

pg8aTwenty years ago, guide books such as Lonely Planet had not a single word to say about Mascota, no doubt due to the ever-twisting, bone-rattling, rock-strewn, dirt road that used to connect Mascota to the rest of Mexico, inevitably smothering the traveler for endless hours in a great, billowing cloud of choking white powder.

Nowadays, this road is beautifully paved and, despite its twists, more and more people are discovering that Mascota definitely deserves the title Pueblo Mágico, which it officially earned in 2015.

Mascota’s history goes back for countless centuries, long before the Spaniards arrived. The name of the town has nothing to do with the Spanish word mascota (pet or mascot) but seems to come from the Náhuatl maza-ocotl-atl, meaning “Place where you find deer, pines and snakes.”

Last weekend I headed for Mascota with the intention of scouting out nearby El Malpais Volcanic Park, a lava field said to contain some of the world’s youngest minettes.

What is a minette?

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