Arco Norte Highway

The Arco Norte toll highway that skirts Mexico City to the north is a fast route around the city, easily connecting Puebla to Morelia, Mexico.

This summer in our Mexico travels we had the pleasure of discovering a super fast route around Mexico City that took us through spectacular country graced with the wide horizons and expansive skies of the central plateaus north of the Federal District and greater Mexico City metropolitan area.

We needed to skirt Mexico City on a day that we, with out-of-state license plates, were not allowed to circulate within the metropolitan area (see Hoy No Circula driving restrictions) without incurring a hefty fine. I found the website for the Arco Norte toll highway and learned from it that the route totally avoids the restricted zone and, supposedly, would take us all the way from Puebla to Morelia in four to four and a half hours. Well, I didn’t quite believe that, but we were willing to try it out as it did promise to take us where we wanted to go (Morelia) without touching the Federal District, and in less time, surely, than making our way through Mexico City traffic.

We set out from Puebla somewhat late–shortly after noon–as we had had car problems and needed a quick mechanical fix in the morning before heading out of town. Leaving Puebla, we took Highway 150D toward Mexico City and were clearly directed to the Arco Norte turnoff (57D) close to Texmelucan. The route was in excellent repair, even in the middle of the rainy season, and the landscapes spectacular. We passed by fields of corn and sorghum, lakes, and rolling hills carpeted in brilliant green. The highway curls around to the north of Mexico City past Tepeapulco and the turnoff to San Juan Teotihuacan, crosses the Mexico City-Pachuca highway, and carries on by Tula, hooking into Highway 55D close to Jilotepec de Molina Enriquez to join the Mexico City-Morelia highway (15D) near Atlacomulco, Estado de Mexico. It is a toll road with restricted access; the tolls at the time we traveled mid-2014 totaled $367 pesos.

And surprise, surprise: we made it to Morelia from Puebla (about 421 kilometers) in not much more than four hours! Once we hit the Morelia city limits, though, we spent an additional hour inching through traffic to reach our hotel in center town. Morelia’s traffic is not good.

The Arco Norte website details the current state of the highway; toll booth delays, if any; toll charges per section of the highway, weather conditions, route maps, etc.

Here are a few shots of the incredibly beautiful countryside through which Arco Norte and the Mexico-Morelia highways will take you, at least when traveling it in the summer rainy season.

Arco Norte out of Puebla

Arco Norte vista

Arco Norte fields

Arco Norte panorama

Lagunas near Arco Norte

Approaching Morelia