This post shares everything you need to know about visiting Cascada El Salto in the La Huasteca Potosina region of Mexico.
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What is La Huasteca Potosina
Cascada El Salto is a waterfall in the La Huasteca Potosina region of Mexico, in the state of San Luis Potosi. Before I go any further, I will explain a little bit more about this stunning part of Mexico.
La Huasteca is a geographical and cultural region that spans seven states in the northeast of the country, and along the Gulf of Mexico. This area gets its name from the Huastec people who populated the region at the height of their civilization around 750 to 800 AD.
La Huasteca Potosina is a smaller part of the wider Huasteca region, located in the state of San Luis Potosi. It spans 20 different municipalities around the state and is a hub for nature and adventure tourism. The region is blessed with unique geography, filled with stunning rivers, vast canyons, caves, thundering waterfalls and lush rainforest. If you’re a nature lover like we are, this region is simply paradise!
Grab a copy of my Huasteca Potosina Travel Guide Ebook!
Huasteca Potosina is easily the most underrated place we visited in Mexico.
We still can’t believe how few tourists make the journey to this magical wonderland of waterfalls, but I think a big reason is the lack of information out there.
So, I decided to put together a Huasteca Potosina Travel Guide ebook to help anyone who wants to visit this part of Mexico. This ebook is designed to be a go-to quick reference guide for the region, to help you easily plan your own Huasteca adventure.
This 82-page ebook covers everything you need to know about the region, from the best time to visit, how to get there, the best method of transport to get around and of course the top things to see and do!
You’ll find the best waterfalls, other unmissable attractions, recommendations on restaurants, accommodations and tours, and a 7-day road trip itinerary.
There is also the option to add a customised Google Map that has over 50 locations pinned by category, allowing you to easily visualise our recommendations across the region and map out your route.
Find out more about the guide here.
Cascada El Salto
Cascada El Salto is also referred to as Cascada Salto del Agua, and was one of our favourite waterfalls in La Huasteca Potosina. Whilst the waterfall here doesn’t flow year-round (in the wintertime it is diverted for a hydroelectricity plant), this is one of the most beautiful natural sights we have ever seen. We visited at the end of March, and the falls were roaring which we didn’t expect but were pleasantly surprised to find. The falls cascade into a huge, open pool surrounded by vine-clad canyon walls, filled with the most brilliant shade of milky blue water. The water flows over clay shelves into a series of smaller, calmer pools before continuing down the river. Swimming around in the near-silent canyon was almost eerie, and we both had a warm feeling here, reminding us how incredible nature is. The site is relatively untouched, which made it even more special.
Where is Cascada El Salto
Cascada El Salto is located in the northern part of La Huasteca Potosina. It is just outside the small town of El Meco, and around 30 minutes from the larger town of El Naranjo. If you are coming from Ciudad Valles it will take 2 hours, or from Tamasopo 2.5 hours.
How to get to Cascada El Salto
Getting to Cascada El Salto by car
Cascada El Salto is very close to the town of El Meco, and an easy 10-minute drive. However, the directions are a little confusing and Google Maps isn’t entirely accurate. You can put the falls in your Google Map, and it will take you 90% of the way correctly. As you get close, the road you are on will come to an end at the entrance to a hydroelectricity plant. From there, turn left down the dirt road and continue for a few hundred metres until the road forks. From there, go right. The road is unpaved and starts to become quite bumpy and rocky. You can drive all the way to the entrance of the falls (a few hundred metres) if you feel comfortable doing so. Or you can park your car basically anywhere after the road forks, and walk the rest of the way. It will only take you a few minutes. There is a shaded area where you can pull in under some trees that seemed like the unofficial car park for small cars.
Getting to Cascada El Salto by tour
If you’re looking for a day tour, this tour combines a visit to Cascada El Salto and nearby Cascadas El Meco and includes the boat ride required to get up close to Cascadas El Meco.
Many of the best tour companies in the region are not bookable online and operate via Whatsapp (very popular in Mexico!). They rely on word-of-mouth, and just because they might not have a sophisticated website and online booking system, doesn’t mean they’re not great options. Most companies offer all-inclusive packages with transport, accommodation, entry to sights around the region, and additional activities. Most offer two options for packages. Ecotourism – for those looking for a more relaxed experience. And adventure – for those looking for more thrills, with activities like rappelling, rafting etc. Some of the companies we saw around the region and come highly reviewed are Huaxteca.com, Ruta Huasteca and Huasteca Secreta.
Accessing Cascada El Salto
There isn’t any formal infrastructure here and getting to the main pool takes a bit of climbing. There are a number of clay ‘shelves’ for lack of a better word that separate the pools that you can climb over, and also use as a spot to sit down and put your stuff. It can be very slippery if it’s gotten wet, so be careful. I would recommend bringing a dry storage bag for anything you don’t want to get wet. We brought far too many bags with food for breakfast, camera, drone etc. and didn’t realise it would be a bit tricky to get everything across dry!
Costs to visit Cascada El Salto
There is no entry fee to visit Cascada El Salto. This is one waterfall that has remained largely undeveloped, and you can come and go as you please. There is no requirement to rent life jackets, and parking is free so there is no fee at all to visit. However, this is one spot I would actually suggest having a life jacket if you want to swim all the way across to the waterfall. There are a couple of stalls at the entry offering rental. I can’t remember the exact cost but it wouldn’t be more than approximately 30 pesos.
Facilities at Cascada El Salto
There aren’t many facilities at all at Cascada El Salto, which is what makes it so special. There are a few small food stalls as you enter, selling chips and snacks. But if you’re going to be hungry for a meal, I would suggest planning ahead and bringing some food along. We brought our breakfast to have at the falls and it was magic! There are no bathrooms or lockers here, and once you start the short journey down to the main pool area, there is no development at all.
In terms of activities, there is nothing formal on offer here. It is one of the more relaxing waterfalls in the area, but we absolutely loved it. The main pool is huge and you can spend a while swimming around. Either across to the fall itself or around the sides of the canyon where you will find little caves. There are a few rocks where you can jump into the pool as well. If you do want to swim across to the falls and stand underneath them, be aware it is a long way and the current from the waterfall is strong. I was tired quickly and couldn’t make it the whole way. Brayden did and he was fine, but very tired and would have appreciated a life jacket to float on.
When to visit Cascada El Salto
There are two elements to this question – what time of the year is best to visit the La Huasteca Potosina region in general. And what time of the week, and time of the day is best to visit Cascada El Salto.
Cascada El Salto is a bit of a different story when it comes to the best time to visit. During winter, the nearby powerplant (that you encounter when you drive in) diverts the waterfall completely for hydroelectricity. If you visit during this time (approximately November – February) you won’t see a waterfall at all. The pools themselves are still incredibly beautiful, and I would say worth a visit anyway. We visited in late March and were fully expecting there to be no waterfall, but were pleasantly surprised to see it flowing with full force!
Cascada El Salto is definitely one of the lesser-developed waterfalls in the region, but it is not immune to large tour groups. Visiting first thing in the morning on a weekday is going to give you the best chance of having the place to yourself. And if you visit during the winter when the waterfall is not flowing, I imagine it would be very quiet.
We visited on a Sunday morning of a long weekend and were so lucky when we arrived. There were a couple of small groups, but eventually, they cleared out and we had the entire place to ourselves for about 30 minutes. But as we were leaving an insanely large group of people, probably over 200, had arrived on a hoard of tour buses. Cue our exit! I can’t imagine it would be anywhere near that busy during the week, or even on a normal weekend. But go early and you might get lucky as we did!
Other attractions close to Cascada El Salto
Cascada El Salto is part of a group of waterfalls that is sometimes referred to as the ‘turquoise route’. This encompasses Cascadas de Minas Viejas, Casada El Salto and Cascadas El Meco. Cascadas El Meco is just a few minutes away from Cascada El Salto so combining the two is obvious. And Cascadas de Minas Viejas is around an hour south, past El Naranjo.
We approached the region as a road trip style, staying in different places each night, rather than returning to Ciudad Valles each day. To help you plan your route, this is what we did before and after visiting Cascada El Salto.
Over two days, we followed this route:
- Depart from Ciudad Valles and drive to Cascada El Aguacate (1.5 hours)
- Continue north to Cascadas de Minas Viejas (1 hour)
- Drive onwards to El Naranjo and stay the night (0.5 hours)
- Drive to Cascada El Salto in the town of El Meco the following morning (0.5 hours)
- Move from Cascada El Salto to Cascadas El Meco (15 minutes)
- Drive to Cascadas de Micos (2 hours)
The three falls in the ‘turquoise route’ are well-known and easy to travel between. Some people would squeeze all three into one day. This is possible if you don’t want to hang around too long at any of them. But as you see in the itinerary above, there are other falls in the general vicinity that you should consider when planning your itinerary to visit Cascada El Salto.
Where to stay when visiting Cascada El Salto
Where you stay completely depends on how you are approaching your itinerary in La Huasteca Potosina. Many people base themselves in one place, usually Ciudad Valles, and do day trips each day. Visiting a number of sites and returning to Ciudad Valles each night. Alternatively, you could do as we did (and what we recommend) and approach it road trip style, staying at different locations each night closer to the sights you are visiting. Rather than driving all the way back to your starting point each day. No matter which option you choose, here are a few different accommodation options for your visit to Cascada El Salto.
- Stay near the falls in El Meco – El Meco is a very small town, but it is possible to stay here. Either camping further upriver from the falls, or at a cabaña or local hotel. There are two camping spots on the river, called El Sundial and Centro Ecoturistico El Meco. Both seem to be operated by the same people and offer similar amenities like bathrooms, a restaurant, tent area. The entry fee is 30 pesos per person, and camping is extra (I think 50 pesos per person). If you want something more comfortable, Hotel El Salto del Meco is a beautiful option right next to Cascadas El Meco.
- Stay in El Naranjo – if you want to stay close to Cascada El Salto but want a few more facilities, El Naranjo is only 20 minutes away and has a little bit more going on. There aren’t too many options listed on the online booking platforms, but a quick search on Google Maps and we found some gems. Both Hotel Bella Vista and Hotel Rio Paraiso are located right on the river and offer basic, but charming rooms. We stayed at Hotel Bella Vista and couldn’t stop gawking at the incredible blue river right outside our door! For something a little fancier, Hotel Huasteca Express is in town.
- Stay in Ciudad Valles – if you’re using Ciudad Valles as a base, we recommend Casa Kimi for a mid-range, eco-friendly option. If you’re on a budget, we stayed at Hostal Casa Huasteca and really loved it. Or if you want a little splurge, Hotel Casa Ortiz is a stunning option with a pool.
Visiting Cascada El Salto
We were so blessed with the timing of our visit to Cascada El Salto and we couldn’t believe that we had the entire place to ourselves for at least half an hour. On a Sunday, of a long weekend (not planned, oops!). This beautiful waterfall definitely has a very special feel to it, and it may be because it has barely been developed at all. Whether the waterfall is flowing or not, the pools are magical and I highly recommend a visit no matter the time of the year!