Category Archives: Natural Parks in Castille y Leon

Sierra de Gredos Regional Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Ávila
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1996
  • Park surface area: 86,236 hectares.
  • Z.E.P.A -Special Bird Protection Zone
  • Local towns and villages El Arenal, Arenas de San Pedro, Bohoyo, Candeleda, La Carrera, Cuevas del Valle, Gilgarcía, Guisando, El Hornillo, Hoyos del Collado, Hoyos del Espino, Los Llanos de Tormes, Mombeltrán, Nava del Barco, Navalonguilla, Navalperal de Tormes, Navarredonda de Gredos, Navatejares, Puerto Castilla, Santiago de Tormes, San Juan de Gredos, San Martín del Pimpollar, Solana de Ávila, Tormellas, Umbrías, Villarejo del Valle, Zapardiel de la Ribera and San Esteban del Valle.

Points of interest

The Sierra de Gredos Regional Park is situated in the southern part of the province of Ávila and encompasses the highest altitudes of the mountains. The highest point of the Sierra de Gredos and also central Spain is the Pico Almanzor at 2,592 metres.

The Sistema Central mountain chain, predominately of granite rock, cuts east to west from Madrid province to Portugal. The Sierra de Gredos is a part of this formation which stretches for nearly 140km running through the provinces of Madrid, Ávila, Salamanca, Toledo and Cáceres.

This once glaciated region has been gradually eroded and molded by the action of ice and water. At lower altitudes deciduous and evergreen forests move up to slopes covered in broom, to alpine meadows and higher still to exposed rock which grows lime coloured lichens, often snow covered. The range of habitat types covers alpine meadows, glacial cirques, glacial lake, moraines, rocky crags, river gorges and sub tropical slopes.

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There is an array of flora and fauna to suit each of these habitats. The southern side of this protective band enjoys a milder climate where they are able to grow peppers and citrus fruits. There are planted orchards of Cherry, Fig, Sweet chestnut and Walnut trees in the valley to the north.

Snow can cover the high ground from November lasting on the peaks to May or June and so the many streams flow with fast clear water.

Flora

There are around 1,400 different plant species recorded within the park. Trees include evergreen and deciduous Oaks (Quercus ilex), (Quercus pyrenaica), Poplar (Populus alba, P.tremula, P. nigra), Alder (Alnus glutinosa), Birch (Betula alba), Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris), Stone pine (Pinus pinea) and Mountain ash (Sorbus acuparia).

Most well known are the low growing brooms (Cytisus purgans) that cover the slopes with fragrant yellow flowers in spring. There is an extensive range of gorse and brooms that inhabit these mountains such as Echinospartum barnadesii, Adenocarpus hispanica, Adenocarpus complicates, Genista falcate and Cytisus scoparius. Some hold special habitats such as the flat growing Genista carpetana that creeps over rocks, in oak leaf litter are Genista cinerea, Cytisus scoparius, Cytisus multiflorus or close to pines Genista florida.

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) grows in woodland clearings and Dog rose (Rosa canina) grows under the pine trees with herbs such as oregano, thyme and rosemary in open areas.

Endemics to Gredos mountains are the Snapdragon (Antirrhinum grosii), Centaurea avilae, Dianthus gredensis, Armeria bigerrensis subsp. bigerrensis, Saxifraga pentadactylis subsp. almanzorii, Jasione laevis subsp gredensis, Sedum campanulatum, Santolina oblongifolia, Scrophularia bourgeana, Sedum campanulatum and Doronicum kuepferi.

Fauna

The numerous Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae) roaming here are an isolated subspecies of Spanish ibex the latter can be found in many mountainous regions throughout Spain.

Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)
Western Spanish Ibex or Gredos Ibex (Capra pyrenaica victoriae)

Iberolacerta cyreni is a lizard endemic to the Sistema Central mountain range. It is a montane species found close to the tree line in damp, rocky habitats from 1,300 to 2,500m. (Formerly treated as a subspecies of Lacerta monticola).

Mammals of the park include Beech Marten, Wild cat, Otter, Pyrenean muskrat, Ávila snow vole, Pygmy shrew, Long-tailed shrew and Cabrera’s vole,

Raptors that can be seen are Golden eagle, Booted eagle, Short-toed eagle, Imperial eagle, Egyptian vulture, Goshawk, Griffon vulture, Black vulture, Montagu’s harrier, Sparrowhawk, Red and Black Kite, Hobby and Tawny Owl.

Other birds noted within the park are White stork, Black stork, Black redstart, Rock thrush, Bluethroat, Alpine hedge sparrow, Ortolan Bunting, Stonechat, Citril Finch, Rock Bunting, Black-eared Wheatear, Northern Wheatear, Turtledove, Water Pipit, Dipper, Yellow Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, Iberian green woodpecker, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Wood Lark, Western Bonelli’s Warbler, Dartford Warbler and Whitethroat.

Amphibians and reptiles include common Spade foot (Pelobates fuscus), Midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans), and European tree frog (Hyla arborea), Schreiber’s green lizard (Lacerta schreiberi), Large Psammodromus (Psammodromus algirus), Iberian Wall Lizard (Podarcis hispanica), Ocellated lizard (Lacerta lepida), Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei) and European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis).

Two other endemic animals of the park are the Almanzor salamander (Salamandra salamandra almanzoris) and Gredos toad (Bufo bufo gredosicola).

Also in the area:

The caves called “Cuevas del Águila” contain spectacular concretions and can be visited in the Tiétar valley near Arenas de San Pedro and Ramacastañas.
Web: https://cuevasdelaguila.com/?lang=en

At El Raso just south of the Sierra de Gredos Regional park, there is an Iron-age hill fort from the 3rd – 2nd Century B.C. The site is roughly 20 hectares and was once protected by a wall that in places was 3m wide. The Romans ordered this wall to be demolished and now only parts of it remain. There are two reconstructed houses to demonstrate structures of these times. Visit the tourist office in the town of Candeleda (Oficina de Turismo of Candeleda) for more information.

There are also excellent Neolithic cave paintings which can be visited, near El Raso called “El Collado Braguillas“.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona norte) ‘Pinos Cimeros’

Located in the town of Hoyos del Espino, in the southeast of Ávila.The best way to access it is through Av-941 that connects the N-502 with the town of El Barco de Ávila. It is located on Av-931 that leaves from Hoyos del Espino to the Platforma.

This is a fantastic interpretation centre with all the information that you need. There are interactive maps, exhibitions and detailed information on the geology, fauna, flora and ethnic history of the area.

This video give an idea of what to expect.

Casa del Parque de Sierra de Gredos (zona sur) ‘El Risquillo’

From Madrid you can come along the C-501 (Alcorcón-Plasencia road) to Arenas de San Pedro, and from there take the 5 km provincial road that reaches Guisando. You can also go along the A-5 to Talavera de la Reina and through Arenas arriving at Guisando. From Salamanca and Valladolid you can get to Ávila and from there take the N-502 to Arenas de San Pedro and Guisando.

Another excellent information centre well worth the visit with all the information you need, exhibitions and very knowledgable staff.

More information on the tourist information website of Castilla y Leon
Web: https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/en/countryside-nature


The Grazalema Guide

The best way to see all our web projects in one place is over at the Grazalema Guide.

The Grazalema Guide – Tourist Information Portal for the Sierra de Grazalema, Wildside Holidays, The town of Ronda and the Caminito del Rey.

https://grazalemaguide.com/

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2000
  • Park surface area: 32,300 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Monsagro, El Maíllo, Serradilla del Arroyo, La Alberca, El Cabaco, Nava de Francia, Mogarraz, Herguijuela de la Sierra, Monforte de la Sierra, Madroñal, Cepeda, Villanueva del Conde, Miranda del Castañar y Sotoserrano and​ San Martín del Castañar

Points of interest

Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park is part of the western foothills of the Cordillera Central. An isolated area, it is located to the south of the province of Salamanca. The highest peaks are the Hastiala at 1,735 meters and the Peña de Francia at 1,723 meters.

The whole area has a great scenic and ecological value with abundant fauna and flora along with a great cultural wealth and an important historical-artistic heritage. There are five municipalities in the area declared “Historic-Artistic Complex” due to the wealth of cave paintings, remains of Roman mines, hermitages and monasteries that are scattered throughout area.

Among prehistoric remains we find the dolmen of La Morisca in Nava de Francia, the cave shelter of the Canchal de las Cabras Pintadas de las Batuecas (declared Asset of Cultural Interest ) and six cave shelters in Linares de Riofrío “Coquilla”, “Las Viñas”, “Majada Llana”, “Las Carreteras”, “Los Vallejos” and “Relagüesa“.

The great biodiversity of this area has led to it also being designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO as well as SCI and ZEPA within the Red Natura 2000 project.

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Flora

At higher levels the vegetation has had to adapt to the windswept harsher climate and is dominated by broom and the “hedgehog zone” (low growing prickly shrubs). As you descend, species such as holly and chestnut, oak and birch forests appear. In the lands facing south there are holm oaks, cork oaks, strawberry trees and rockrose whilst in sheltered and sunny areas there are orchards of chestnut, almonds, vineyards and olive groves.

Fauna

Fauna of the park is well represented with 213 cataloged species of vertebrates, of which 9 correspond to the fish group, 13 to amphibians, 19 to reptiles, 126 to birds and 46 to mammals.

As for birds, it is common to see vultures, both griffon and black, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, Egyptian vulture and eagle owl. The black stork, listed as endangered, is also present

Among the mammals that inhabit the Las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia Natural Park are Iberian lynx, badger, ibex, wild cat, mongoose, marten, Iberian desman and otter as well as roe deer, red deer and wild boar.

In the many streams and ponds you can find Iberian newt and Iberian midwife toad

The Peña de Francia lizard (Lagartija batueca – Iberolacerta martinezricai) is exclusive to these mountains as the name sugggests.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de las Batuecas-Sierra de Francia

The information centre is located in the village of La Alberca. From Salamanca, take the CL-512 road towards Necinos. After about 30 km arrive at Tamames and from there on the SA-215, follow the signs to La Peña de Francia. It can also be reached by the A62 motorway; Salamanca – Portugal. Take the Fuentes de San Esteban exit towards Cabrillas-Tamames-La Alberca.

There are excellent audio visual displays, exhibitions covering fauna, flora and the area in general plus the friendly helpful staff will help you to find the best routes and places to see in the area.

Official website for the tourist infomation centre
https://patrimonionatural.org/casas-del-parque/casas-del-parque/casa-del-parque-de-las-batuecas-sierra-de-francia


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Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Segovia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1989
  • Park surface area: 5,037 hectares
  • Towns and villages Carrascal del Río, Sebúlcor, Sepúlveda

Points of interest

The relatively small Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park is a jewel in the countryside in the province of Segovia. Its name refers to a 27 kilometre stretch of the Duratón River and “Las Hoces” refers to the series of gorges, some up to 100 metres high, that have been formed by the river..

The Duratón river gorges have also been classified as a Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA) and integrated into the Natura 2000 Network in April 1991. The whole area has also been declared as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in January 1998 and since 2004 the management of the park has been carried out through the European Unions LIFE Project.

The cultural heritage of this area also makes it an important tourist and leisure destination. The hermitage of San Frutos and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Hoz are well visited monuments.

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Flora

In the protected area there are varied habitats depending on the climatic and soil differences. Three different and determined zones are distinguished, the moorland in the upper zone, the riverside forest on the river bank and the gorge cliffs.

The moorland zone, which occupies most of the surface of the park, is located in the upper zone, where the soil is dry and poor. Here we find junipers, thyme, gorse, sage, lavender and other scrubland polants that dominate the open areas.The junipers have been greatly affected by human action and clearing have been replaced by thyme and gorse that have come to form a kind of pseudo- steppeland. In some areas there are resin pine plantations although today they are practically abandoned.

The vertical walls that make up the gorges and rupicolous ecosystem descend from the height of the moors to the bottom of the canyon. They are a rocky and inaccessable with very little soil and a scarcity of water creating a unique habitat. Sedum acre, S. dasyphyllum and S. sediforme are present along with ivy, maidenhair fern and asplenium taking advantage of the nitrogen rich droppings from the bird nesting areas. Larger vegetation is made up of black hawthorn, fig tree and Terebinth or turpentine tree (Pistacia terebinthus).

At the bottom of the canyon the riparian ecosystem holds richer soils, a greater availability of water and shelter provide an excellent habitat for an exuberant riverside forest made up of alder, willow, poplar, elm, and ash trees mixed with dogwood, elderberry, blackberry, wild rose, blackthorn and hawthorn. There are also planted stands of fast-growing poplars, walnut and chestnut trees.

Fauna

Birdlife is well represented in the area especially the nesting colony of Griffon vultures with over 500 pairs and many other raptors. The river gorge is a haven for many types of warbler, kingfisher, dipper, woodpecker and finches.

Larger mammals present are otter, wild boar, roe deer and badgers accompanied by the smaller weasel, rabbit and stone marten.

Among the amphibians there are common frog and San Antonio frog, common toad, midwife toad and natterjack toad. Common reptiles seen are viperine snake, ladder snake and ocelated lizard.

Other sites of interest

El Solapo del Águila, in the Corral de Muñecas has the highest concentration of cave paintings.

The hermitage of San Frutos is located on a rocky spur over one of the gorges, and the monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles at the bottom of the canyon. Also interesting to visit are the ruins of the Visigothic hermitage of San Julián, excavated in the rock and the cave of the Seven Altars.

Not to miss viewpoints (Miradors)

  • Mirador de la Virgen de la Peña, in Sepúlveda, next to the church of the Virgen de la Peña, with information panels.
  • Mirador del Meandro, on the road to Villar de Sobrepeña .
  • Postigo de la Perejilera viewpoint, near the town of Sepúlveda.
  • Mirador del Portillo, with views of the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles de la Hoz.
  • Viewpoint of the Paso de la Glorieta, near Sepúlveda.

Information/Visitors Centers

The interpretation center of the Hoces del Río Duratón natural park is located in the town of Sepúlveda. It is located in the old church of Santiago, in ruins since 1930, which was restored and adapted for this purpose in 1994 . There is an audiovisual room plus an excellent exhibition covering many aspects of the fauna and flora and human habitation/history of the area.

This is also where you get any permits to visit some of the resticted areas of the park.

official website for the Hoces del río Duratón Natural Park
https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/es/rural-naturaleza/casas-parque/casa-parque-hoces-rio-duraton


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Arribes del Duero Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Salamanca y Zamora
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2002
  • Park surface area: 106,000 hectares
  • Towns and villages. Argañín, Almendra, Cabeza del Caballo, Villardiegua de la Ribera, Villadepera, Torregamones, Villar del Buey, Fariza, Gamones, Fermoselle, Villarino de los Aires, Pereña, Masueco, Mieza, Vilvestre, Puerto Seguro, San Felices de los Gallegos, Ahigal de los Aceiteros, Sobradillo, La Fregeneda, Hinojosa del Duero, Saucelle, Adeadávila de la Ribera, La Bouza, Bermellar, Saldeana, Barruecopardo, Fonfría, Pino del Oro, Villalcampo, Moralina, Moral de Sayago, Trabanca, Lumbrales, Cerezal de Peñahorcada, La Zarza de Pumareda, La Peña.

Points of interest

The steep gorges of the Arribes del Duero Natural Park are formed by the river Duero which is also the national boundary between Spain and Portugal. The protected area continues into the Portuguese side where it is called the International Douro Natural Park. In 2015, the two parks were declared a transboundary biosphere reserve by Unesco under the name of the Meseta Ibérica and combined, this enormous protected biosphere reserve covers over 1 million hectares in both countries.

The biosphere reserve of the Mesta Ibéricas altitudes range between 100 and 2000 meters above sea level and includes several protected areas including the natural parks of Arribes del Duero and Lago de Sanabria in Spanish territory and that of the International Duero in the Portuguese part. There are also various areas of the Natura 2000 Network such as the Duero Canyons, the Villafáfila Lagoons, the Sierra de la Culebra and the Albufera del Azibo/Romeo.


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Flora

There is a very rich plant community present which is characterized by the great abundance of typically Mediterranean species mixed in with cultivated olive, grape vine, almond and other fruit trees. In many areas the farmland has been abandoned and is now covered with naturaly regenerated thickets of junipers, holm oak, gall oak, cork oak interspersed with beautiful meadows of grasses and wild flowers.

Fauna

Over 300 species of bird have been recorded here but the black stork is one of the most emblematic in the Arribes del Duero Natural Park and they are accompanied by birds of prey such as griffon vulture, egyptian vulture, eagle owl, golden eagle, bonnellis eagle, kites (both red and black), peregrine falcon and lesser kestrel.

Mammals include both the Iberian wolf and Iberian lynx.

Traditionally, hunting of the Iberian wolf has been allowed north of the Duero river but in 2021 the Spanish goverment announced a total ban much to the dismay of the hunting fraternity and many livestock owners. Time will tell how this works. (Read the comments on the ban at the Iberia Nature Forum https://iberianatureforum.com/forums/topic/iberian-wolf-hunting-ban/ )

Video on YouTube – Arribes del Duero Natural Park (Spanish)


Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘El Torreón de Sobradillo’

Located in the town of Sobradillo east of Salamanca on the border with Portugal, the best way to get there is from Salamanca via the SA-300 heading towards Ledesma or towards Vitigudino via the C-517 and from Zamora via the C-527 towards Fermoselle. From Portugal take the N-620 towards Salamanca and the N-122 towards Zamora.

This information centre has audivisual films about the park and its fauna and flora with exhibitions and models showing the geology and history of the area.

Casa del Parque de Arribes del Duero ‘Convento de San Francisco’

This information centre is located in the old Convent of San Francisco de Fermoselle, a town located in the southwest of the province of Zamora.

Staffed by knowledgable local people this centre will help you get the best out of a visit to the area and has a lot of information on local events and activities as well as exhibitions about the Arribes del Duero Natural Park, its fauna, flora and human history.

Official Tourism website here: https://patrimonionatural.org/espacios-naturales/parque-natural/parque-natural-arribes-del-duero


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Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park

  • Region: Castilla y Leon
  • Province: Segovia
  • Declared a Natural Park: 2004
  • Park surface area: 6470 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Maderuelo, Galende, Montejo

Points of interest

The Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park is located in the northeast of the province of Segovia near to the border with the province of Burgos.

This stunning area has been created by the Riaza river which has excavated the limestone of the Segovian plains to create one of the largest areas of gorges, canyons, cliffs and ravines in Spain.

One of the largest Griffon vulture colonies in Spain are resident here and also, due to the caves, it is a safe haven for the Greater mouse-eared bat (Myotis myotis.)

The Linares reservoir is worth a visit especially the dam which has fantastic views and is a great place for birdwatching. The village of Maderuelo was recently named as one of the most beautiful villages in Spain.

This area is characterized by the dominance of the sessile juniper mixed with other oak species woodland. There are rosaceae species such as wild rose, blackberry, hawthorn and blackthorn and various planted woodlands of pine. Depending on the time of year, the Cistus species (Cistus ladanifer and Cistus laurifolius.) can be a beautiful sight when in flower.

Mammals are represented well in this area with otter, wild boar, fox, roe deer, badger, genet, marten, weasel, wild cat, rabbit and hare

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Footpaths in the area (Ask in the visitor centre)

  • Senda entre puentes
  • Senda del Río
  • Senda de la Ermita del Casuar
  • Senda del Cerro Alto
  • Senda de las Tenadas de Valdevacas
  • Senda del Embalse de Linares del Arroyo
AUTHORIZATIONS

From January 1 to July 31 it is necessary to request an authorization at the Information Centre to be able to travel through the reserve area of ​​the natural park, this area includes the PR-SG-6 (Senda del Rio) and PRC-SG- 7 (Hermitage of Casuar).

Information/Visitors Centers

Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park visitor centre

Address: Las Eras street in the village of Montejo de la Vega de la Serrezuela. Take the A-1 / E-5 highway, exit 146 and in Milagros, the road to Montejo de la Vega. From Aranda de Duero, continue on the N-1 road to Fuentespina and there take the C-114 road to Fuentelcesped where you take the detour to Montejo de la Vega.

At the Information centre you will find all the information you need to get the best out of a visit to the area. Guides and leaflets are available about the various trails (Including permits when needed) as well as details of other nearby areas of cultural or natural interest.

There is an audivisual film and also exhibitions on the fauna, flora, geology and culture of the area.

Castilla y Leon official tourist website for the Hoces del Río Riaza Natural Park
https://www.turismocastillayleon.com/en/countryside-nature/natural-areas/hoces-del-rio-riaza


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Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park

Region: Castilla y Leon
Province: Soria y Burgos
Declared a Natural Park: 1985
Park surface area: 10,176 hectares
Towns and Villages: Casarejos, Hontoria del Pinar, Herrera de Soria, Ucero, Nafría de Ucero, San Leonardo de Yagüe, Santa María de las Hoyas

Points of interest

The Cañón del Río Lobos Natural Park is a stunning limestone landscape with two thirds of the park located in the province of Soria and the rest in the province of Burgos.

One of the most visited areas of ​​the Natural Park is the Templar hermitage of San Bartolomé, a Romanesque construction from the first quarter of the 13th century with some Gothic influence. It was part of a monastery of which only the chapel remains.

Located behind the hermitage are the caves which contain engravings and paintings dated to the Bronze Age.

There are extensive forests of juniper and black pine, over a hundred pairs of griffon vultures and also nesting in the area golden eagle, bonellis eagle, Egyptian vulture and various hawks. Mammals include roe deer, wild boar, squirrels, otters, badgers, and wildcats.

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Video on You tube in Spanish about the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park


Main access points to the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park.

  • On the western side, upstream, access is from the village of Hontoria del Pinar On the N-234 road.
  • 12km from Hontoria del Pinar the Puente de los Siete Ojos is the acces most used by hikers who want to walk through the Canyon to the hermitage of San Bartolomé and to visit the caves
  • At the end (downstream) of the canyon is the Galiana entrance, on the SO-920 road between Casarejos and Ucero. This is close to the Interpretation Center which is located in an old mill converted into a fish farm. (See below)
At all entrances there are car parks and information services.

There are recreational areas at various points in the park, in the Siete Ojos area, the Galiana entrance, in Hontoria del Pinar, Los Agualinos and La Fuente del Pino near Santa María de las Hoyas.

In addition, there are five fantastic viewpoints in the natural park: Costalago, Lastrilla, Castillo, Galiana and Gullurías. The first four can be accessed by car, whilst Gullurías can only be accessed on foot.

Information/Visitors Centers

Casa del Parque del Cañón del Río Lobos interpretation centre

Carretera SO-920 del Burgo a S. Leonardo de Yagüe Km. 16. The best way to access is via the SO-920 that connects El Burgo de Osma with San Leonardo de Yagüe, accessing these two towns either by the N-122 or the N -234.

A very informative information centre with knowedgable staff. there are audio visual displays and exhibitions of the fauna, flora, gology and human history of the area. Also one of the largest exhibitions about mushrooms and funghi in Spain.

Castilla y Leon official Tourism website for the Cañón del río Lobos Natural Park

Web: https://patrimonionatural.org/espacios-naturales/parque-natural/parque-natural-canon-del-rio-lobos


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