One Of North America's Most Underrated National Parks Is A Mountainous Waterfall Paradise

If the crowds in resorts like Cancun and other vacation hot spots continuously vex you, head to Mexico's lesser-known beaches and national parks instead. One park that should be on the bucket list of anyone who adores unspoiled nature is Cascada de Basaseachi National Park, located in the Sierra Madre Occidental mountains within the Mexican state of Chihuahua. This is a place of raw and rugged splendor, with dramatic cliffs and ravines blanketed by lush pine and oak forests. Animals like cougars, foxes, deer, and wild boar make their homes in these forests, while majestic birds like golden eagles and peregrine falcons soar over the treetops. 

The highlight of Cascada de Basaseachi, though, is its spectacular namesake waterfall, whose drop of over 800 feet makes it the second highest in Mexico. The views of the waterfall cascading into the deep canyon below are jawdroppingly gorgeous and feel about as far away from a tourist trap as you could possibly imagine. So, if you're looking for something off the beaten track, spending some hours in the park breathing the pine-scented air and taking in views of one of the world's most gorgeous waterfalls will be well worth your time and effort. 

Exploring the wonders of Cascada de Basaseachi National Park

When planning your visit to Cascada de Basaseachi National Park, know that the best time to visit and see the waterfall is during peak water flow between May and October. To reach the park, you can rent a car or take a bus from the city of Chihuahua, which is about 180 miles east.Another option would be to book a tour with a local guide in Chihuahua or another nearby city who can provide transportation to the park directly from your hotel and tailor the experience to your unique preferences and needs.

Once inside the park, you can drive to various lookout points to catch the most impressive views of the waterfall. There are also a number of hikes in the park of varying levels of difficulty, most of which weave around the falls, providing views at different angles. For example, the Basaseachic Falls Trail is an easy 10-to-15-minute hike to the top of the falls, from where the water can be seen plunging over the edge of the canyon. The Basaseachic Falls Canyon Floor Trail,on the other hand, is a more strenuous hike that leads to the waterfall's bottom. From here, it's possible to appreciate the full scale of the falls, which is truly dizzying. 

Discovering other natural gems in Chihuahua

After your visit to Cascada de Basaseachi National Park, be sure to check out other underrated Mexican tourist destinations in the state of Chihuahua. One of these is Valle de los Monjes (Valley of the Monks), an area of tall, eroded rock formations whose indigenous Rarámuri name (Bisabírachi) was a little racier, translating to "Valley of the Erect Penises." Whether the mounds resemble attentive monks or excited appendages, they're nonetheless impressive, some rising up more than 190 feet from the valley floor.

Another great place to check out in Chihuahua if you don't mind a little heat is Dunas de Samalayuca in the northern part of the state, near the border between Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. This 770-square-mile swathe of sandy desert is a tranquil oasis for some, but for others, it's a giant sandboarding and off-roading playground. Movie buffs will be interested to know that some of the desert scenes in David Lynch's "Dune" were filmed in Samalayuca. Lastly, if geology fascinates you, another Chihuahua attraction — Grutas de Coyame (Coyame Caves) — should also be on your list. This is an elaborate underground cave system with rock formations so interesting and bizarre they will make your head spin.