Like most of its central highlands neighbors, San Miguel de Allende sits at a high elevation – over 6,200 feet – on the Central Mexican Plateau, which is a large arid-to-semi-arid plateau that occupies much of northern and central Mexico. It is located on the far eastern side of the state of Guanajuato, about 60 miles from the state’s capital, Guanajuato, and is about 170 miles northwest of Mexico City.
A series of low mountains, the Sierra Central, surround San Miguel and are part of the Sierra Madre Occidental. The San Miguel area also extends over the Sierras Volcanicas and the Cuencas Lacustres del Sur, with most of the territory over the latter. The entire city is located within the national Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt.
The main river in the area is the Laja, which crosses from north to south before emptying into the Lerma River in the city of Salamanca. In addition to the river, there are four principal arroyos – steep-sided gullies cut by running water – that pass by San Miguel: La Canadita, El Atascadero, Las Cachinches and El Obraje. El Obraje receives most of the area’s runoff during the rainy season and feeds the Las Colonias and El Obraje dams. The most important dam in the area is the Ignacio Allende dam, located in the west of the city.
San Miguel also has fresh water, thermal and alkaline springs, many of which are used as ecotourist attractions, such as the El Chorro, Montecillo, El Cortijo, Cieneguita, Atotonilco and Taboada spas. Ecosystems include shrublands, forests of oak, and areas where nopal cactus and/or grass dominate. Nearby Coyote Canyon is a popular hiking and recreation area.
The city has over 140,000 residents and borders the municipalities of San Luis de la Paz, Dolores Hidalgo, Salamanca, Juventino Rosas, Comonfort, Apaseo el Grande and San Jose Iturbide.
San Miguel de Allende is in the Central Standard Time zone and observes daylight saving time beginning the first Sunday in April and ending the last Sunday in October.