Category Archives: Natural Parks in Aragón

Moncayo Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Zaragoza
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1978
  • Park surface area: 11,144 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Añón, Calcena,Litago, Lituénigo, Purujosa, San Martín de la Virgen de Moncayo, Talamantes, Tarazona and Trasmoz

Points of interest

The Moncayo Natural Park (once called the “Dehesa del Moncayo Natural Park”) is a protected natural area located in the province of Zaragoza on the border with the province of Soria. It occupies part of the regions of Aranda, Campo de Borja, Tarazona and Moncayo. Moncayo itself is a 15 km long and about 7 km wide mountain chain and the highest summit, San Miguel (2,314 m), is the highest point in the 500 km long sistema Ibérico. The Moncayo massif also includes two other peaks that are almost identical and are located close together. They are the Cerro San Juan (2,283 m) and Peña Lobera (2226 m).

The area has quite a few walking / hiking routes and one of the most famous starts from the village of San Martín de la Virgen de Moncayo and finishes at the village of Agramonte. (See information centres below)

Find a hotel in the Moncayo Natural Park

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Flora

The lower slopes are mainly a covering of mixed scrubland and holm oak. and at higher altitude these are replaced by beech, juniper, willow, gorse and heather. There are also planted pine forest interspersed with native forest of scots and black pine. Peaks are mostly bare of trees and lower growing “alpine” shrubbery is well developed. (Especially heather and gorse).

Fauna

The mixed scrubland and lush vegetation of the Moncayo area is the perfect habitat for birdlife. (Over 100 species). This is a lesser visited natural park of Spain and also hunting is very restricted thus creating a unique and biodiverse habitat. This park is where I have had the best sightings of Golden eagles! 🙂

Of the 228 species of butterflies known in Spain, 127 inhabit the Moncaya Natural park. May to August are the best months with most species on the wing during this time.

Mammals include wild boar, red deer, genet, mongoose, fox and wild cat though they are fairly secretive and can be hard to find.

Also in the area

Monastery of Veruela

El Real Monasterio de Santa María de Veruela (The Royal Monastery of Santa María de Veruela) is a Cistercian abbey dating from the 12th century. It is situated near Vera de Moncayo. It was founded in 1146 by Pedro de Atarés. More info in wikipedia.

The wine route

The Garnacha Wine Route includes the larger villages of Campo de Borja, Vera de Moncayo and El Buste but in total there are 20 villages linked by vineyards and The Museum and much more information can be found inside the Monastery of Veruela. This should be your starting point for the route around Moncayo vineyards.

In Tarrazona, the Cathedral ‘Santa María de Huerta’ stands out, a beautiful mosaic of architecture styles whose origins date back to 13th century. Gothic, Mudejar and Renaissance fuse together in which is considered to be one of the mosy beautiful Gothic cathedrals in Spain.

Information/Visitors Centers

Tourist office in Tarrazona

Address: Plaza San Francisco, 1, Tarazona

The tourist office in Tarrazona should be number 1 on your visit list. The staff are friendly and very helpful. Excellent information about walking and hiking in the area.

Monday to Friday: 09.30 to 14.15 and 16.00 to19.00
Saturday: 10.00 to 14.00 and16.00 to19.00
Sunday: 10.00 to 14.00 and 16.00 to 18.00

Interpretation Center in Añon de Moncayo

Situated on the ground floor of the town hall building in the Plaza de España this centre has an excellent exhibition about the natural park and mans influence on the environment. There is also an audio visual projection showing many aspects of the MoncayoNatural Park.

The Aragón tourist information website is here.
https://www.turismodearagon.com/en/ficha/parque-natural-del-moncayo/

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Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1990
  • Park surface area: 47,453 hectares
  • Villages and towns: Abiego, Adahuesca, Aínsa-Sobrarbe, Alquézar, Arguis, Bárcabo, Bierge, Boltaña, Caldearenas, Casbas de Huesca, Colungo, Huesca, Loporzano, Nueno and Sabiñánigo.

Points of interest

The Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park (in Aragonese Parque natural d’a Sierra y as Foces de Guara ) is a natural park in the province of Huesca and covers the regions of Alto Gállego, Hoya de Huesca, Sobrarbe and Somontano de Barbastro.

Thanks to its geology this area has become somewhat a Mecca for the practice of canyoning and climbing (In fact some would say that this is the area in Europe that first developed the sport of canyoning). The ravine of the Balcés river is more than 20 km in length and has cliffs as high as 800 m. The Grallera Alta de Guara chasm which has a vertical drop of 277 m.

The whole area is noteworthy for its spectacular scenery and wildlife.

The climate is a hybrid of Atlantic and Mediterranean due to its location between the Pyrenees and the Ebro Valley . This marks the differences between the vegetation of the south and that of the north.

There are four rivers that cross the mountains and these have created the characteristic canyons: they are the Alcanadre, Flumen, Guatizalema, Vero and Mascún.

Find a hotel in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

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Village to village hiking in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park

Hike between the remote villages of the Sierra de Guara natural park. The park has perfect hiking weather in the spring and autumn. Your bags are moved between hotels each day so you just hike with a daypack. 6 days hiking taking you to the heart of this undiscovered area. Wonderful scenery with deep canyons, rocky limestone spires and abandoned villages.

Find out more at Hike Pyrenees


Flora

One of the most notable characteristics of the vegetation in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park is the contrast between the north and south slopes. On the northern slopes gall oak occupies large areas, followed in height by the forests of scots pine and beech groves. At higher altitudes there are forests of black pine and spruce.

On the southern slopes the Mediterranean forest takes control with holm oak being the predominant tree along with scots pine at higher altitudes.

Around the natural park the scrubland is also one of the most important plant formations especially boxwood heathers and kermes oak.

In 2020 the “millenary holm oak” close to the town of Lecina in Huesca was elected “Tree of the Year in Spain”. Head for the town of Lecina. There is an easy marked footpath taking you to this emblematic tree.

The old oak tree of Lecina
In 2020, the millenary holm oak from the town of Lecina in Huesca was elected “Tree of the Year in Spain”.

Fauna

The steep ravine walls in the area facilitate the nesting of numerous species of cliff dwelling birds such as the Griffon vulture that is easy to identify by its characteristic circling flight when ascending in thermal currents. Keep your eyes open too for Bearded vulture and Golden eagle.

Among the mammals are wild boar, fox, wild cat, dormouse and beech marten

The common brown trout frequents the river stretches anfd look out for Pyrenean newt in springs and ponds.

Also in the area

There are cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic in the Fuente del Trucho. In the cave with a 20 m mouth opening and a depth of 24 m there are several panels with more than 100 cave paintings on the walls and ceiling as well as rock carvings on the floor. You can distinguish horses, bears, cervids, goats, negative hands and trilobed signs painted in red and black with an age between 25,000 and 30,000 years.

(The Fuente del Trucho cave is located at an altitude of 640 m, close to the fountain of the same name near the confluence of the Trucho or Arpán ravine and the Vero river, between the municipalities of Colungo and Asque. Currently the cave is closed to the public but there is a partial replica of it in the Vero River Rock Art Center in Colungo.) SEE INFORMATION CENTERS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR DETAILS.

Canyoning and climbing

One of the most popular sports activities in the Park is canyoning . The gorges of the main rivers, Vero, Mascún and Alcanadre attract numerous visitors making the area well known for this sport throughout Europe. Among the hundreds of ravines the most famous are:

  • Barranco del Vero.
  • Mascún ravine.
  • Barranco de la Peonera.
  • Gorgas Negras ravine.

Information/Visitors Centers

Hiking Trails.

You can download pdf documents for hiking trails in the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park at this link. (They are in Spanish but contain good maps and images)
https://www.aragon.es/-/parque-natural-de-la-sierra-y-canones-de-guara


The natural park has several options for the interpretation of natural and cultural values and there are three interpretation centers that belong to the Aragón Natural Network. These centers provide interpretation and environmental education of the ecological diversity of the Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park. They offer services such as the reception of visitors, basic information about the park, educational exhibitions and audiovisual projections. (ALL ARE WELL WORTH A VISIT)

Arguis Interpretation Center (Pascual Garrido Interpretation Center)

Location : The village of Arguis 23 kilometers from Huesca
Theme : The River Forest and the Fluvial Environment.

Audiovisual Projection, Interactive exhibition covering the subjects of Rock, ice, snow, canyons and cliffs

Information Office of Santa Cilia de Panzano

Location : In the town of Santa Cilia de Panzano, along the Aguas a Bierge road. 32 kilometers from Huesca.

Information on the natural values ​​(flora, fauna, geology, etc.) of the Guara summits. There is also a neighboring building with information on cliff dwelling birds (Casa del Buitre)

There is an interactive exhibition covering the subjects of the Mountains, Fauna and Flora and also Man and his relationship with the natural environment.

Interpretation Center of Bierge

Location: in the town of Bierge by the access road to the town of Rodellar, a few meters from the crossroads, the first detour to the left. 40 km from Huesca.

There is an excellent exhibition that is adapted to motor, visual and hearing disabilities and it focuses on the natural and cultural values ​​of the Natural Park.

An audio visual projection about the area and an interactive exhibition covering the subjects of the Karst Geology, Birds of prey, especially the bearded vulture, Flora of the Natural Park, Prehistoric and cave paintings and more recent cultural and traditional uses of the land.

Calendar and Hours (Subject to change)
Autumn – winter: weekends and holidays, from 10 am to 2 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm
Spring – summer: weekends and holidays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Vero River Rock Art Center

The Cave Art Information Centre invites you to take a fascinating trip through the Prehistory of the River Vero, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The extensive educational resources allow you to discover the creative genius of human beings, their beliefs and lifestyles.

The centre has three exhibition areas, equipped with recreation facilities, models and audiovisual resources available in different languages.

  • Museum House (“Casa Museo”) provides general information about cave art, the cultures of the inhabitants of the River Vero, and the natural environment.
  • Archaeological Park (“Parque Arqueológico”) has several reproductions of Neolithic huts and burial constructions, such as dolmens and tumuli.
  • Fuente del Trucho Cave Space explores the mystery of life through the art of the only cave in Aragon with Paleolithic paintings.

Web: https://parqueculturalriovero.com/en/museum-centres/cave-art-centre
Address: Las Braules, 222148 in the village of Colungo.

The tourism website of Hoya de Huesca is also an excellent source of information (Credit for the image at the top of this page)
https://turismo.hoyadehuesca.es/en/la-hoya-de-huesca/natural


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Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

  • Region: Aragón
  • Province: Huesca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1994
  • Park surface area: 33,000 hectares
  • Local towns and Villages: Benasque, Gistaín, Montanuy, Sahún, San Juan de Plan

Points of interest

The Posets-Maladeta Natural Park is a protected natural area located in the north of the Ribagorza region and northeast of Sobrarbe in the province of Huesca. It encompasses two of the highest massifs in the Pyrenees. Heights range from 1,500 m in the valley to 3404 m at the summit of Aneto which is the highest peak in the Pyrenees. The moraines and mountain lakes of Vallibierna, Cregüeña, Batisielles, Millares and Remuñe are home to flora and fauna of the high mountain climate. Along with the Benasque valley there are other valleys within the natural park such as the Estós and Vallibierna.

In addition to Aneto there are also quite a few more high peaks in the area:

  • Pico Posets (3369 m)
  • Punta d’Astorg (3055 m)
  • Pico Maldito (3350 m)
  • Pico del Medio (3346 m)
  • Pico de Coronas (3,293 m)
  • Pico de Tempestades (3,290 m)
  • Pico del Alba (3,118 m)

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Flora:

Staggered according to altitude and other environmental conditions, at lower altitudes tree cover is mostly rowan, hazelnut and birch. On the more humid slopes, beech, pines and firs and at the highest levels scots pine gives way to black pine.

Read more about the flora of the Pyrenees on the excellent blog of Hike Pyrenees.

Fauna:

Marmots are faily easy to spot if you sit quietly and listen for their high pitched whistles. Wild boar and chamois are the easiest to observe mammals, but also keep an eye open for ptarmigan, Pyrenean newt, Asp viper, Griffon vulture, Bearded vulture and Golden eagle.

Read more about the fauna of the Pyrenees on the excellent blog of Hike Pyrenees.

Natural monument of the Pyrenean Glaciers

The natural monument of the Pyrenean Glaciers is a natural monument in the regions of Alto Gállego, Sobrarbe and Ribagorza in Aragón. The protected area is ​​3,190 hectares and is surrounded by a further 13,000 hectares of peripheral protection zone. Altitude ranges between 2,700 and 3,000 meters above sea level.

Declared as such the 21 of March of 1990 and includes the following peaks:

  • Massif of Balaitús (Sallent de Gállego).
  • Picos del Infierno (Panticosa and Sallent de Gállego).
  • Viñamala Peak (Torla-Ordesa).
  • La Munia (Bielsa).
  • Pico Posets (San Juan de Plan , Sahún and Benasque).
  • Pico Perdiguero (Benasque).
  • Pico Maladeta and Aneto (Benasque and Montanuy).
  • Monte Perdido (Bielsa and Fanlo).

In addition to the large volumes of ice, other unique glacier morphologies such as moraines , lakes and U-shaped valleys can be found. Some of these glaciers experienced an expansion during the small ice age but they are currently in the process of total disappearance. The extreme climate means that there are not many animal and plant species found in these glaciers.


The Cuenca Moral Botanical Trail

(A very easy trail indroducing you to some of the plants of the area.)

  • Duration: 25 min.
  • Slope: From 1,540 to 1,670 m.
  • Markings: Two parallel stripes of deep green and light green.
  • Difficulty: None.

Starting point: From Benasque (Benás) go up the main road to the Los Baños detour then follow the asphalt forest road. Once you have passed the Los Baños campsite and the bridge over the Ésera river, walk about 20 meters. and enter the meadow on the left following the signs.

End: The forest road from los Baños to the Hospital (Espital de Benás), 600 mts. before the bridge over the Ésera river.

The Posest-Maladeta Natural Park Botanical Trail runs along part of the old path that linked the Kingdom of Aragón with the south of France through the Bal de Benás (Benasque Valley), taking advantage of the diversity of its natural landscape. It starts next to the Camping de los Baños, the Pllano d’es Bañs o de Turpi, and ends on the forest road that connects the Baños with the Hospital de Benasque. It is representative of the Montane Floor of the Natural Park, with forests of yew, black pine, fir and beech.

The path winds through small pastures surrounded by box trees (Buxus sempervirens), Black pine, Ash (Fraxinus excelsior), Wild dog rose (Rosa canina), wild strawberries (Fragaria vesca) and Asphodel (Asphodelus albus). The path runs parallel to the Ésera river. Here there are rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) and abundant thickets of boxwood, holly, rododrendron (Rododendron ferrugineum), blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), heather (Calluna Vulgaris) , and flowers such as Lilium martagon and Primula veris

Guides in the area of Posets-Maladeta Natural Park

Walking holidays in the Pyrenees – Guided and self guided walking holidays with the Pyrenees specialists Hike Pyrenees

Based in the heart of the Spanish Pyrenees surrounded by stunning scenery and superb hiking routes. A local company and They’ll show you fantastic hiking routes, traditional villages, the wonderful wildlife of the area and all about the local customs and culture.


Alpine Skiing and Snowboarding

The Aramón Cerler Ski Resort located in the Benasque Valley, is undoubtedly the ideal place to practice Alpine Skiing and Snow Boarding. It has 68 ski slopes, of which 9 are green, 17 blue, 26 red and 15 black, gathering a total of 79 skiable kilometers, which are accessed by 18 lifts. The minimum height of the station is located at 1,540 meters from the town of Cerler, and the maximum reaches 2,630 meters.

More information on the website here.

Information/Visitors Centers

Benasque Visitor Center (OBLIGATORY VISIT!)

Access: On the road from Benasque to Anciles. Taking the first road on the left. (Located less than 10 minutes from Benasque village.)

Benasque Visitor Center has an excellent interpretation exhibition detailing the four main environments that exist in the Posets-Maladeta Natural Park. Rock, ice and snow. Grasslands and meadows. High mountain forests and the inhabited valleys. Excellent services and staff that will help you get the most out of a visit to the area. Staff will also help you with footpaths and the best places to visit depending on the time of year you are visiting.

Web: https://turismobenasque.com/


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The Laguna de Gallocanta

Without a doubt, one of the most distinctive living elements of the Laguna de Gallocanta are the birds, especially the striking flocks of common cranes that rest and feed here during the course of their migratory trips.

Above image wikipedia (De Secretaria – http://www.xiloca.com/xilocapedia/index.php/Imagen:Atardecer_6_Gallocanta.jpg, CC BY 3.0 es, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19561884

The vast majority of the European population moving on the western migratory route use Gallocanta as a resting area and over 100,000 cranes have been counted in a single day (02/24/2011) .

Flocks of common cranes arrive en masse at dusk. This has to be one of the most impressive visual and sound spectacles of nature.

Best times to visiting the area is during the months of November to February.

The protected area covers1.924 hectares of natural reserve (the wetland itself) and 4.553 hectares of peripheral protection zone (the surrounding farmland sometimes also wetland dependin on rainfall)

Where is Gallocanta?

The Gallocanta Lake (Spanish: Laguna de Gallocanta) is an endorheic lake in the province of Aragon. It is within the boundaries of two provinces, Teruel and Zaragoza, and is located just to the south of Gallocanta village, between the Aragonese comarcas of Campo de Daroca and Comarca del Jiloca. This lake is situated on a high continental plain at an altitude of almost 1,000 m

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The Interpretation Center of the Gallocanta Lagoon (Obligatory visit to get the best out of the area)

Location: in an old road laborer’s house located on the A-1507 road, between the villages of Tornos and Bello. 120 km from Zaragoza and 95 km from Teruel.

The Interpretation Center of the Gallocanta Lagoon
The Interpretation Center of the
Gallocanta Lagoon

The main content of the interpretation centre is the natural history ​​of the lagoon, its history and formation and the uniqueness of the species it provides a home for with special emphasis on the common crane. There is also an audiovisual projection and an interactive exhibition covering the geology of the lagoon, the habitat and human existence in the area.

Opening times Spring-Summer (from March 21 to September 20)

Mornings: 10:00 to 14:00
Afternoons: 15:00 to 18:00

Opening times Autumn-Winter (from January 24 to March 15 and from September 26 to December 20)

Mornings: 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Afternoons: 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Telephone: 978 734 031
Telephone (central offices): 976 07 00 00
Website: https://www.aragon.es/-/reserva-natural-de-la-laguna-de-gallocanta (In Spanish language)

Places to visit and parking

  • Centro de Interpretación de la Reserva Natural de la Laguna de Gallocanta.(see above info about the intepretation centre)
  • Mirador de la Ermita de la Virgen del Buen Acuerdo.
  • Observatorio de Gallocanta.
  • Centro de visitantes de Gallocanta, con mirador (fuera de la Reserva y de su zona periférica de protección).

Parking

  • Centro de interpretación de la Reserva Natural Dirigida de la Laguna de Gallocanta) (Bello).
  • Ermita Nuestra Señora del Buen Acuerdo (Gallocanta).
  • Centro de visitantes y museo de las Aves (Gallocanta).

Walking Trails

Path PR-Z 33 La Laguna de Gallocanta and los Lagunazos. (32 Km – 9 hours – Circular)

This footpath is circular and goes completely around the lagoon passing by the 5 observation hides and the Ermita de la Virgen del Buen Acuerdo from where there is also an excellen view of the Lagoon. This path can also be made by bike. Its not obligatory to do the whole footpath, just walk as far as you want then turn around.

Berrueco trail (1km – 30 mins – Linear

This is a Linear path, which starts from the town of Berrueco and ascends to its Castle, from where you can see a magnificent panoramic view of the Gallocanta Lagoon.

Observation hides

  • Torre-observatorio del Cañizar.
  • Observatorio de los Aguanares.
  • Observatorio de la Ermita.
  • Observatorio de los Ojos.
  • Torre-observatorio de La Reguera.
  • Obvervatorio del Centro de Interpretación de la Reserva Natural de la Laguna de Gallocanta.
  • Observatorio accesible de Gallocanta.

Recreation and picnic sites

  • Fuente de los Haces.
  • Fuente Sancho.
  • Church of the Ermita de la Virgen del Buen Acuerdo.
  • La Serna.
  • Gallocanta swimming pool.

Museums

  • Gallocanta avian museum (Inside the Gallocanta visitor centre).

Other lagunas in the area

  • Laguna de La Zaida.
  • Laguna de Guialguerrero.

Renting hides at the Laguna de Gallocanta

Request processing is carried out by Servicio Provincial en Teruel del
Departamento de Agricultura, Ganadería y Medio Ambiente, Subdirección de Medio Ambiente, placed in C/ San Francisco, 27 de Teruel (44071).

Telephone +34 978 64 11 45
Email adress: hidesgallocanta@aragon.es.

Dowload the full guide to renting a hide here
https://www.aragon.es/documents/20127/12362674/How+to+book+hides+-+Reserva+Natural+Dirigida+de+la+Laguna+de+Gallocanta+-+2020.pdf/2925f255-4585-6d6e-6691-9ac7ab57cedf?t=1597824000140


Wildside Holidays – Spain

The top wildlife, activity and walking holiday companies in Spain. Small family companies living and working in Spain. Local guides are the best!

http://wildsideholidays.co.uk/

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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