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  3. Lake Pátzcuaro - Mexico

Lake Pátzcuaro - Mexico 

Map of Lake Pátzcuaro in Mexico

Located – 200 miles west of Mexico City

Source – volcanic basin

Size – 49 sq. miles/126 sq. km.

Origin of name – Originally called “Tzacapu-ansucutin-pátzcuaro” (“door to heaven”)

Cities – Pátzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, Quiroga

Sister Rivers/Lakes Agreement

Signed on April 5, 2013

Memorandum of Understanding (PDF)

Major challenges

Declining water levels; silt; agricultural run-off


The region was once the center of the ancient P’urhépecha culture (also called Tarascan). The town of Pátzcuaro was founded in 1324. In 1528, Spaniards overran the area; two years later, a Franciscan monastery was built. There are 26 towns on the shoreline and on the many islands in Lake Pátzcuaro. The Illinois city of Naperville enjoys a Sister City relationship with the city of Pátzcuaro.


Lake Pátzcuaro is one of the world’s highest lakes. It is well-known for fishermen who use “butterfly” nets.


For 40,000 years, monarch butterflies have begun the amazing migration from this part of Mexico to the Upper Midwestern United States. The area is a bird-watchers’ delight, with extensive wetlands providing habitat to 200 species of birds. Drivers and cyclists will enjoy the paved road that encircles the Lake. Bikes and kayaks can be rented at most towns around the Lake. Wind-surfers can be seen, as well. Take a boat ride to the island village of Janitzio. Go fishing for trout, bass, Pátzcuaro chub or a local favorite: blanco.