Are you looking for the best guide to visiting the Guachimontones pyramids?
The centuries-old pyramids of Guachimontones in the town of Teuchitlán, Jalisco are one of Mexico’s lesser-known archeological sites. Located just 40 miles from Guadalajara in Western Mexico, touring Guachimontones is one of the coolest activities in the Tequila Valley. Here is a detailed Guachimontones travel guide, with everything you need to know about visiting Guachimontones and the neighboring haciendas.
Two thousand years ago a large and influential civilization thrived at the base of the Tequila Volcano. They built ceremonial sites with unique circular pyramids and thrived for centuries before mysteriously disappearing.
Walking through Los Guachimontones pyramids is like stepping back in time. The agave landscape has changed little in the last thousand years and tequila country is rooted in pre-hispanic cultures.
Just a short distance from the archaeological zone are Spanish-era haciendas and modern tequila distilleries. I have lived in Jalisco since 2009 and I want to help you plan a memorable experience taking advantage of everything in the area. Here is my guide to visiting the Guachimontones pyramids.
The best way to see the area is to visit the archeological site, stay the night at one of the boutique hotel haciendas, and take a tequila distillery tour. If you only have one day, make a reservation to have lunch at one of the nearby haciendas for lunch. Many of the boutique hotels have restored old mansions and reflect the extreme wealth of the colonial era.
Visiting The Guachimontones Pyramids: An Overview
The Tequila Valley Region is one of the most popular day trips from Guadalajara but there are a lot of tourist traps. Visiting the archaeological site will give you a broader appreciation of the different periods of Mexican history. The area around the volcano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural and natural landscapes. Agaves have been cultivated for thousands of years and have a myriad of uses from construction materials to human consumption.
The red volcanic soil in the region is ideal for growing agaves. It turns out that the volcano also left one largest obsidian mines in the world. The original people of the Teuchitlán tradition crafted obsidian into weapons and tools that were traded with other Mesoamerican cultures near and far. Through industry and agriculture, the Teuchitlán nation grew into an amazing civilization.
Guachimontones was the ceremonial center of the Teuchitlan culture that occupied large portions of what is today known as the Mexican state of Jalisco.
The name Teuchitlán means ‘place dedicated to divinity’ or ‘place of the ancient gods’ depending on the interpretation. The name Guachimontones is an amalgamation of both Spanish and Náhuatl for mounds of guaje trees which are abundant in the area.
The monumental architecture consists of nine mounds, two ball courts, multiple plazas, and numerous house mounds. A round pyramid is set in the middle of a circular plaza with rectangular platforms on the far side. A tall pole was set at the top of the top of pyramid serving as an altar. Much like in other parts of Mexico, a ‘volador’ or birdman flyer would climb the pole during ceremonies.
This archeological site only began excavation in 1999 when American archaeologist Dr. Phil Weigand and his wife, Acelia Weigand began documenting the ruins of the pyramids.
Best Time To Visit Guachimontones
Guachimontones is a popular destination for elementary schools to visit during the week and during the school year. Much like Chichen Itza, the solstices and eclipses attract a huge crowd of onlookers.
My favorite time of year to visit Guachimontones is in the fall after the rainy season leaves the area bright green.
It can get really hot in the spring before the rains start. The walk up the hill from the parking lot to the main pyramid is short but very steep. Not everybody is going to enjoy the walk in the midday heat. And, at least in my opinion, the area isn’t as photogenic when it is brown. I think the landscape is prettier when it is green.
Visiting during the summer is hit or miss with the rain. It usually rains in the afternoon but there is always a possibility of rain in the morning. The rain clouds will give your photos a dramatic look but there is always the chance of getting caught in a torrential downpour. You need to be very aware of the weather in the rainy season because the storm clouds can move quickly.
No matter what time of year you decide to visit the archeological site, try to arrive early to the site early. It gets warm even in the winter time and the walk up the hill isn’t fun at midday. Make sure to bring water with you. I guarantee you will need it at the top of the pyramid.
How To Get To Guachimontones
Guachimontones is located 40 miles (~65 km) northwest of Guadalajara. Depending on the traffic leaving Guadalajara, it should take about an hour to get there.
If you are short on time, I recommend combining Guachimontones and the town of Tequila into a one-day trip. They are on opposite sides of the Tequila Volcano but it is an easy drive and there is a tour guide combining those fun activities.
Driving to Guachimontones
The best way to visit the region is to have your own car. Whether you are bringing a car from Puerto Vallarta or need to rent a car in Guadalajara, having a vehicle is the best way to see the pyramids. The bus is slow and drops off in the village of Teuchitlán, 3 km from the interpretive center.
Both haciendas are off the main road and would require a taxi ride to and from Teuchitlán in order to have lunch. A car just makes everything so much easier.
I highly recommend making a lunch reservation at Hacienda El Carmen after visiting the pyramids.
From Guadalajara, it is a very easy drive out Avenida Vallarta past the Bosque de la Primavera. Follow the signs for Tepic Libre, and Ameca 70, and turn right on the 4 just after Tala. The right turn is easy to spot with plenty of signs saying Guachimontones and Teuchitlán this way.
Turn right into Teuchitlán at the Welcome to Teuchitlán sign. The Pemex and the OXXO are more visible than the welcome sign. Head eight blocks up and turn right. Go two blocks to the east and make a left on Calle Benito Juarez which is a cobblestone street. There are some small signs pointing the way to the pyramids. It is another two kilometers up the hill to the parking lot and the archaeological museum of Guachimontones.
Teuchitlán is a quintessential small Mexican town with adobe buildings and lots of local agriculture. It is worth it to stop in the main plaza to take some pictures and grab a snack. On a recent trip, I saw some of the most beautiful jamaica flowers that I have ever seen. Agua fresca de jamaica is usually made with pieces of flower petals but in Teuchitlán they were drying huge whole flowers. Both the Michoacana and Helados Piwi have amazing jamaica popsicles.
Tour to Guachimontones
If you are not interested in driving to to Guachimontones, the next best way to get there is on a tour. There are private tours, group tours, and a combo Guachimontones and Tequila tour.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a tour that combines a hacienda visit with an archeological site visit.
Bus to Guachimontones
The bus is the most economical way to visit Guachimontones but that comes with a cost. The bus makes a bunch of stops along the way which takes much longer. Additionally, the bus does not go all the way to Guachimontones but drops passengers off in the small town of Teuchitlan. From Teuchitlán, they can walk the last 3 km up the hill or take a taxi.
The bus to Teuchitlán leaves from the Central Vieja bus station near Downtown Guadalajara. There are a couple of different companies that operate that route and buses leave for Teuchitlan every thirty minutes during the day. According to the bus schedule, the last departure leaves Guadalajara for Teuchitlán around 8 p.m. Look for the Tala, Ahualulco, Teuchitlán route on ATE. It shouldn’t cost more than 100 pesos. The second-class bus is even cheaper but the seats are not as comfortable.
Cost Of Visiting Guachimontones
The cost of visiting Guachimontones is negligible. A $30 peso entrance fee includes access to the Phil Weigand Interpretive Center.
Tickets can be purchased at the entrance to the parking area. Sometimes they charge and sometimes it is free. I have been to Guachimontones six times and I want to say that we have paid three of those six times.
A guided tour of the archeological site costs an additional $200 pesos and is well worth the explanation. Tour guides are usually on-site from around 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Guachimontones Hours Of Operation
The park is open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The Phil Weigand Interpretive Center is open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
There is a great video that plays every half hour alternating between the Spanish version and the English version.
How Much Time To Visit Guachimontones?
Guachimontones is a much smaller site than Teotihuacan near Mexico City. Most visitors will spend between 1 and 3 hours touring the museum and park. I recommend watching the short video and touring the museum which will take no longer than 45 minutes.
It takes a little while to walk up the hill especially if you get there late on a hot day. Most people will spend less than two hours hiking and exploring the park.
My ideal timetable for visiting Guachimontones would arrive around 10 a.m. and spend about two hours exploring. I would set my lunch reservation at Hacienda El Carmen for 1 p.m.
Where To Stay Near Guachimontones
As I have mentioned before, there are two spectacular historic haciendas that have been converted into boutique hotels near the town of Teuchitlán. Both of the haciendas are a little ways off of the highway so it is best to have your own transportation.
Hacienda El Carmen
⭐️ Rating: 9.6 /10 | Neighborhood: Ahualulco de Mercado | View on Expedia.com
Hacienda El Carmen is one of the finest hotels in the state of Jalisco. Dating back to the 16th century, this is the height of historic luxury.
Hacienda Labor de Rivera
⭐️ Rating: 8.6 /10 | Near: Teuchitlán | View on Expedia.com
Final Thoughts on Visiting the Guachimontones Pyramids
I have come to see the Guachimontones as one of the most interesting archeological sites in the Western part of Mexico. While I have visited Tikal and Teotihuacan, the mythological contribution of the agave to the modern tequila industry really brings this place to life.
The Tequila Tequila Valley is the perfect place to experience the combination of prehispanic history, the Spanish colonial empire, and 20th-century Mexican popular culture. Jalisco is considered to be the most traditionally Mexican part of the country and this area is at the core of that folklore.
Guachimontones should be your first stop along the tequila trail. It will give you a better appreciation for the beverage you are about to consume.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoy the trip.