All praise the thundering Río Cupatitzio. This impressive river begins life underground, then rises sensationally to the surface, feeding a subtropical garden of palms, orchids and massive shade trees in urban Uruapan’s Parque Nacional Barranca del Cupatitzio. Without the river, the city would not exist. When Spanish monk Fray Juan de San Miguel arrived here in 1533 he was so taken with his surroundings that he gave the area the Purépecha name, Uruapan (oo-roo-ah-pahn), which roughly translates into ‘Eternal Spring.’ Fray Juan designed a large market square – still a hit with area families on weekends – built a hospital and chapel, and arranged streets into an orderly grid that survives today.
Uruapan quickly grew into a productive agricultural center renowned for macadamias and high-quality aguacates (avocados) and still holds the title ‘Capital Mundial del Aguacate.’ The Feria del Aguacate underlines that point.
Avocados may pay the bills, but the river is king. The city’s nicest neighborhoods kiss the riverside. The national park, a 15-minute walk from the city center, is a rush of waterfalls and trickling streams that wind through thick vegetation.
Uruapan is 500m lower than Pátzcuaro and a bit warmer. Don’t miss the remarkable volcano Paricutín, 35km to the west.