Alta Vista Archaeological Site
Two miles (3 km) north of the Highway 200 Playa El Naranjo turnoff, a right-side (east) turnoff road signed Alta Vista (the local municipality eight miles uphill) points the way to Santuario Alta Vista Archaeological Sacred Site. There you will find a palapa shelter, a caretaker (offer a gratuity of about $2 per person), and a half-mile self-guided trail dotted with dozens of petroglyphs that experts estimate date back at least 2,000 years.
Unlike many other such sites in Mexico, Alta Vista is still actively frequented as a holy place, known traditionally as Chacalán by local people. When you reach the end of the path, you’ll see flower-adorned impromptu shrines that decorate a magnificent rock amphitheater-like cascade, studded with friendly water-rounded volcanic blocks and crystalline spring-water pools. There seems no doubt that this place, so special that it evokes wonder, has been revered by local folks for untold millennia. For a small fee, camping may be possible near the entrance. For more details, visit www.guayabitos.com.mx/chacalan/.
Get there by foot or by car (preferably a high-clearance Jeep or truck) via the Highway 200 gravel turnoff road. After about a mile winding uphill, turn into a tree-lined country lane on the left. (Hint: if you reach a farmhouse, turn back; you went too far.) Continue gradually downhill about half a mile, and turn onto another narrower lane on the right. After about another half-mile downhill, the road will probably become too rough for a passenger car. If so, you may have to walk the additional mile. Continue downhill, bearing right along a creek, to road’s end, where the path crosses the creek. Continue on foot, across the creek and straight ahead, to the site.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition