Desierto de los Leones (Desert of the Lions) National Park is located entirely within the limits of the Federal District, it stretches between Cuajimalpa and Álvaro Obregón boroughs. It is located in the Sierra de las Cruces mountain range west of the city center with an area of 1,867 hectares, representing fifteen percent of the entire Valley of Mexico. The area was used as a retreat for a religious group, thus the name Desierto (Desert) means not "arid place", but not populated. The "Leones" part of the name does not refer to the animals, but rather to the original landlord's lastname.
The park's altitude varies between 2,600 and 3,700 meters above sea level, giving the area a relatively cold and damp climate. It is a forested area primarily with pines, oyamel firs and holm oaks with many brooks, ravines and waterfalls. The park is considered to be the oldest protected biosphere in Mexico. It was originally declared a forest reserve in 1876 by President Lerdo de Tejada with the intent of conserving its fresh water springs to supply Mexico City. It was later declared a national park on 27 November 1917, by President Venustiano Carranza.