Volcano Paricutin, standing at an impressive 2800 metres tall, might be less than 80 years old, but climbing up the volcanic-scree slopes to its summit and looking out across blackened, village-engulfing lava fields is a highlight of travel in this part of Mexico.
You can trek to it on horseback or by foot (last part is always by foot), but regardless of what option you pick, the end result will be well worth it.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world it’s story behind this volcano is as extraordinary as the views from its summit.
A Modern Volcano
On February 20, 1943, Dionisio Pulido, a Purépecha farmer, was working just outside the Tarascan Indian village of Paricutin, Mexico.
Plowing his cornfield about 21 miles west of Uruapan, the ground began to quake and spurt steam, sparks and hot ash.
The farmer struggled to cover the blast holes, but he quickly realized his futility and ran as the volcano began to rise.
Within a year it had reached an elevation of 410m above the rolling farmland and its lava had flooded the Purépecha villages of San Salvador Paricutín and San Juan Parangaricutiro.
The lava flowed slowly, much to the relief of the villagers as it gave them plenty of time to escape the area.
The volcano hit it’s peak in 1952, when it stopped growing. Today its large black cone still whispers warm steam in a few places, but other than that shows no sign of life.
Near the edge of the 20-sq-km lava field, the top of the ruined Templo San Juan Parangaricutiro, San Juan’s stone church, protrudes eerily from a sea of black lava.
Its tower and altar are the only visible traces of the two buried villages, a reminder of what stood before nature decided to take over.
For the ultimate Volcano tour check out STA Travel’s Anchorage to Mexico City trip, which stops of at Volcano Paricutin.
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