“One of the most impressive archeological sites in all of western Mexico”
When you visit Puerto Vallarta or the Riviera Nayarit, the thought of trekking through some ancient pre-Hispanic archeological site is usually not on the agenda. The well-known sites such as Teotihuacan in Central Mexico or even Chichén Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula are hundreds if not thousands of kilometers away.
Still, for those travelers who love the west coast of Mexico but still yearn to explore ancient sites, both the states of Nayarit and Jalisco have much to offer. One of the finest examples is just outside the modest little town of Teuchitlán, Jalisco, 40 kilometers due West of Guadalajara. There lies one of the most impressive archeological sites in all of western Mexico, Los Guachimontones.
Los Guachimontones (alternatively Huachimontones) is a pre-Hispanic archaeological site built by a complex society that existed from as early as 300 BC until 900 AD.
“Research has shown that the Teuchitlan Tradition was a pioneer in forging a civilized lifestyle in Western Mesoamerica. It probably evolved around 1000 B.C. and achieved an outstanding degree of social organization. Their deity was Ehecatl, god of wind, who was venerated in a flying ritual on the circular pyramids.”
The dominant features at los Guachimontones are circular stepped pyramids in the middle of circular building complexes. The 60-foot (18 m) tall pyramid at Circle 2 has 13 high steps leading to an upper level, which was then topped with another 4 high steps.
The site was discovered almost a half century ago and is still undergoing extensive exploration and restoration by archeologists.
The site itself is perhaps the most dramatic in western Mexico and sits on a hill overlooking the Vega dam and town of Teuchitlan. The archeological complex covers almost 50 acres.
Some the site’s best features include the larger ball court which covers 2631 square yards. The Teuchitlán Culture, as several other Mesoamerican cultures, had its own ball game. The ball game used a rubber ball that had to be struck with the hip to the opposite end of the court.
As this site is not officially open to visitors, try to arrive mid-day. Guards will greet you and ask you to sign in. Admission as of 2013 is free. No professional or video cameras.
Allow at least 1 hour to visit.
You can stroll safely undisturbed throughout the site – often you will be the only ones there. Take good shoes as there is plenty of walking and a fair amount memory and batteries for your photographs.
As this is site is in a somewhat rural area, take water and insect repellant. There are no restaurants or food vendors.
Dress according to the season you are visiting.
GPS – N20.41.68 W103.50.9
Tours and tour buses go infrequently to Los Guachimontones from Guadalajara. Inquire from your hotel or on the net.
Drive from Guadalajara:
Take Highway 15 West of the city heading towards Puerto Vallarta. Drive to where the toll high splits from the Free Highway ( to Ameca) and turn to Highway 70 to Tala. Immediately after Tala take the exit towards El Refugio on Highway Jalisco 4.
Drive past El Refugio to the town of Teuchitlan and turn right. Follow the signs. Approximately 63 KMs – 1 hour +