The Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra Gorda, in the rugged Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range, covers a huge swath of the northeastern third of Querétaro state. Known as the 'green jewel' of central Mexico, the reserve boasts 15 vegetation types, making it the most ecosystem-diverse protected area in the country. Its stunning wilderness areas encompass old-growth cloud forests, semideserts and tropical forests; jaguars, rare orchids and endemic cacti are just some of the fauna and flora on offer here.
Over the past few years, sustainable ecotourism projects have been established, with varying success. Travelers can head into villages with local guides, stay in basic cabins and camping areas, and partake in a range of activities. These include hikes to waterfalls, rafting, rappeling and kayaking. Many communities here have functioning workshops that produce pottery, natural remedies, dried foodstuffs, honey products and embroidery.