Mascota is a contraction of the Aztec name Mazocotlan, meaning “Place of the Deer and Pines,” a translation depicted by Mascota’s traditional hieroglyph of an antlered deer head in profile beneath a three-limbed pine tree.
Although local gold and silver deposits drew early Spanish colonists, agriculture has proved to be the real treasure of Mascota. Its 4,300-foot (1,300-m) altitude brings a refreshingly mild, subtropical climate and abundant moisture to nurture a bounty of oranges, lemons, avocados, apples, grapes, and sugarcane in the surrounding farm valley. Even during the dry winter months, many fields remain lush, irrigated by the Río Mascota, which eventually meanders downhill through its deep gorge to join its sister stream, the Ameca, near Puerto Vallarta.
Mascota (pop. 13,000) is the metropolis of Puerto Vallarta’s mountains, offering such services as hotels, restaurants, markets, banks, doctors, and hospitals to local residents and visitors. It’s the seat of the local municipio of the same name, which spreads beyond the Mascota Valley to a number of idyllic villages tucked away in their own remote emerald vales.
By Bus: Road and weather conditions permitting, a sturdy red ATM (Autotransportes Guadalajara Talpa Mascota, www.talpamascota.com) bus connects [node;33066 link Puerto Vallarta] with the [node;33214 link San Sebastián] crossroad at La Estancia, continuing to Mascota and Talpa. Check the departure schedule and buy your reserved ticket ahead of time at the little store (tel. 322/222-4816, 9 a.m.–3 p.m. and 6–9 p.m. daily) at the corner of Argentina and Guadalupe Sánchez.
Under good conditions, the morning bus arrives at Mascota at 11 a.m. Take drinks and food; little or nothing is available en route.
The competing Autobuses Mascota Talpa Guadalajara (known as the Autobus Azul, or Blue Bus) also connects Mascota with Guadalajara, Talpa, and Puerto Vallarta. Tickets and departure information are available at the small Mascota streetside station (corner of Cotilla and Zaragoza, tel. 388/386-1006), two blocks north of Corona.
By Car: Access to Mascota from Puerto Vallarta is via La Estancia on the way to San Sebastian. At La Estancia, mark or reset your odometer and continue ahead for Mascota.
Two miles (3 km) farther, pass through Ermita village; continue six more miles uphill along a pine-and-oak-shaded ridge to a breezy view pass at Mile 8 (Km 13). A faint jeep road heads left along the summit ridge to La Bufa peak and Real Alto village. Continue downhill, passing over El Saucillo Creek, at about Mile 11 (Km 18) and Palo Jueco Creek, about two miles farther on. Continue over a second oak-studded pass at around Mile 19 (Km 29). Then coast five miles (8 km) more downhill past a former fighting-cock farm on the left, at around Mile 24 (Km 43). Continue to the Mascota town limit (and gas station) about four miles (7 km) farther and, finally, the Mascota plaza at Mile 28 (Km 45).
Mascota has two gas stations, one on the west side, about a mile west of the Mascota plaza, and another on the east side, about three miles east of town on the Guadalajara–Talpa road. Magna unleaded gasoline is customarily available at both.
© Bruce Whipperman from Moon Puerto Vallarta, 7th edition