High mountain metal road in Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca, México, which leads to the crater of the long-extinct volcano Nevado de Toluca (also known as Xinantécatl). It is possible to get almost to the large central crater by car and it is absolutely worth the visit. The volcano is located in central Mexico, about 80 kilometres (50 mi) west of Mexico City near the city of Toluca. Access to the volcano is easy, since a rough road (passable by 2-wheel drive cars) leads all the way into the crater. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of the country.
Nevado de Toluca is Mexico’s fourth tallest peak at 4.690m, and lies across the horizon south of Toluca. From the parking it is a short 15 minutes hike to the edge of the crater. A unique feature of this volcano is that one can drive into the crater. Another unique feature is that it has two lakes inside the crater, where diving can be practiced. To access the volcano's crater, one has to pass a couple of checkpoints where an access fee has to be paid. The summit area can be snowy from November to March, and is sometimes good for off-piste cross-country skiing, but Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca is closed during the heaviest snowfalls.
From the park entrance, a road winds 3.5km up to the main gate at an area called Parque de los Venados. From there it's a 17km metal road that leads all the way to crater, ending at 4.212m (13,818ft) above the sea level. The journey is very picturesque, with winding dusty roads amidst dense pine forests with the view of the snow capped volcano approaching nearer every turn. Six kilometers from the crater, there’s a gate, café and basic refugio (rustic shelter). From that point, the crater can also be reached by a 2km hike via Paso del Quetzal, a very scenic walking track. There are a number of lodging options along this road, including a state-run hut at 4,050 m. A trail leads from this hut directly into the crater in about 1-2 miles. The gravel road leads up to the peak (also signposted for the park and the volcano). The gravel road winds around the mountain for 15 mi (22 km) to reach the crater. A number of lodging sites are passed along the way.