AAA Editor Notes
Vallarta Botanical Gardens is 19 km (12 mi.) s. of Puerto Vallarta at Mex. 200 Km marker 24, following signs. Set in a tropical dry forest ecosystem 1,300 feet up in the Sierra Madre mountains, this 20-acre botanical garden features native and non-native collections of orchids, palms, ferns, bromeliads and succulents. The Tree Fern Grotto is representative of a tropical mountain environment, while the Blue Agave Hills is an area that was deforested for cattle grazing before being replanted with agaves, mountain pines, and tababuia and mahogany trees.
The newest facility, the Vallarta Conservatory of Mexican Orchids, provides a greenhouse environment for numerous varieties of orchids that are found nowhere else on Earth; Mexico is home to more than 1,200 orchid species. Promoting conservation of native flora, this professional operation appeals to both serious gardeners and nature lovers.
Getting here is an adventure, via a winding road up into the Sierra Madre foothills past a jungle gorge and an impressive granite formation covered with wild orchids, plumeria and vanilla bean. In addition to touring the gardens, you can take a dip in the crystal-clear Río Los Horcones.
“El Tuito” tourist buses depart regularly for the gardens from the corner of calles Carranzas and Aguacate in the Romantic Zone; one-way fare is 20 pesos. A taxi ride from Old Town will cost about $25 (U.S.) each way. Bring water, sunscreen and insect repellent.
Recreational activities are permitted. Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.