Category Archives: National Parks of Spain

Monfragüe National Park

  • Region: Extremadura
  • Province: Cáceres
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1979
  • Upgraded to National Park: 2006
  • Park surface area: 18.852 hectares
  • Z.E.P.A (1988) Special Bird Protection Zone
  • Biosphere Reserve 2003

Points of interest

The area of Monfragüe National Park is noted for its importance as a breeding area for a selection of rare and protected birds, Black vulture, Black stork, Imperial eagle and Bonelli’s eagle.

Add to that the worlds most endangered wild cat, the Lynx which also resides here and one can see why it was upgraded from a natural to a national park.

The park altitudes range between 450 – 750m, covering an area 30km long and 7km wide. The habitat types are oak woods, scrub land, rocky out crops, river and reservoir plus dehesa.

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The Picos de Europa National Park

  • Region: Asturias, Cantabria, Castilla y León
  • Province: Asturias, Cantabria, León
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1918 enlarged in 1995
  • Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve 2003
  • Z.E.P.A
  • Park surface area: 64.660 hectares

Points of interest

The Montaña de Covadonga National Park ( now The Picos de Europa National Park) was established in Asturias in 1918, the first national park in Spain. The now much larger park covers three major massifs – Western, Central and Eastern which are all part of the Cordillera Cantabria range. The dramatic Cares river canyon, which is 1,500m deep, divides the western and central parts.

The protected area encompasses these spectacular limestone mountains which are approximately 40 km in length (E-W) and 20 Km wide (N-S). They are situated just 20km inland from the Atlantic coast in northern Spain. This gives them a mixture of both Mediterranean and Temperate climatic influences. Altitudes range from 75m to 2,646m with 200 points over 2,000 metres, all given greater relief by the depth and steepness of the gorges and ravines cut by the rivers and tributaries. The highest peaks are Torre de Cerredo at 2,646m, Naranjo de Bulnes at 2,519 m and Pico Tesorero at 2,570 m. The latter is where the borders of the three provinces meet.

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The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia

The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia is a section of the Betic Cordillera and runs parallel to the Mediterranean sea for around 100km.

The temperature range is dramatic with the summits under snow for many months, followed by a hot Mediterranean style summer. This creates special microclimates across the exposed rocky summits, glacial lakes, sheer sided gorges, mixed oak woods, pine woods and fast rivers with wooded banks.

Declared a National Park in 1998 and encompassing an area of 86,208 hectares it is a popular destination throughout the year. It holds an exceptional variety of animal and plant life due to the combination of altitude and its proximity to the Mediterranean sea.


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These mountains were formed during the Tertiary Period (65 to 1.8 million years ago), at the same point as the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and the European Alps. This mountain building event is called the Alpine Orogeny. The uplift happened as the African plate moved northwards colliding with the Eurasian plate. The Sierra Nevada mountains consist of mainly metamorphic rocks such as Gneiss and Mica schist. Many of the rocks are juxtaposed and mixed up due to intense faulting and folding during the compression of the two tectonic plates.

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Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park

Above Image By Heparina1985 – Valley of Ordesa, Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, Spain

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park:1918
  • Park surface area: 15,696 hectares (extended to this in 1982)
  • UNESCO 1997 (Ordesa-Viñamala)
  • Zona de Especial Protección para las Aves.

Points of interest

The Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park is an area of dramatic landscape, overseen by the peak of Monte Perdido at 3,355m, found within the Pyrenean mountain range that forms the border between Spain and France.

Arid limestone mountain peaks contrast with deep ravines and lush green valleys. Glaciers have scoured the mountains and there are four fast flowing rivers that fall into the Spanish side. Their valleys are named Ordesa, Pineta, Añisclo and Escuaín.

The original park, created in 1918, only covered the Ordesa valley with one of the intentions being to preserve the Pyrenean Ibex, a type of wild mountain goat. Sadly the last of this species died in January 2000.

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16 stunning national parks in Spain to visit.

There are sixteen areas designated national parks in Spain. Ten are in the Iberian Peninsula, four are in the Canary Islands and one is in the Balearic Islands. National parks are different to natural parks in that the area they cover is predominantly wilderness with less human impact in their history and evolution. Natural parks on the other hand are areas of outstanding natural beauty and biodiversity that have also been shaped in someway by human occupation, agriculture etc. It goes without saying that they are obvious destinations for wildlife enthusiasts like myself but untill one visits one or all of these parks it is hard to imagine the incredibly biodiversity of these areas located on the iberian peninsular and Spanish islands.

I hope this article is of use and please share with your friends and family. Any and all comment are welcome! Continue reading 16 stunning national parks in Spain to visit.