Category Archives: Regional Parks in Madrid

Regional Park of the Guadarrama River

  • Region: Madrid
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1999
  • Park surface area: 22,116 hectares
  • Towns and villages: El Álamo, Arroyomolinos, Batres, Boadilla del Monte, Brunete, Colmenarejo, Galapagar, Majadahonda, Moraleja de Enmedio, Móstoles, Navalcarnero, Las Rozas de Madrid, Serranillos del Valle, Sevilla la Nueva, Torrelodones, Valdemorillo, Villanueva de la Cañada, Villanueva del Pardillo and Villaviciosa de Odón.

Points of interest

The Regional Park of the Guadarrama River (Curso Medio del Río Guadarrama y su Entorno) is located to the west of Madrid. It is a 50 km long and narrow strip encompassing the banks of the Guadarrama River.

In its northern part, the strip widens to integrate part of the course of the Aulencia River (the main tributary of the Guadarrama). The Valmayor reservoir, filled by the Aulencia river, is also included within this protected natural space.

The Regional Park protects approximately 38% of the course of the Guadarrama, whose total length is 131.8 km. The demographic and human population pressure, derived from the existence of numerous large towns in the vicinity (some on the very edge of the river) constitutes the main threat to this protected natural space and almost 90 percent of this regional park is privately owned.

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There are five major types of habitats and ecosystems such as groves and riverbanks, holm oak woodland, low scrub and grasslands, pines and and arable farmed cropland. In the holm oaks and pastures, there are nesting and wintering birds, among which the Iberian imperial eagle stands out, one of the most endangered bird species in the world. Short – toed eagle, booted eagle, goshawk, black vulture, eagle owl and black stork have important populations in the area as do great bustard, little bustard and curlew.

The southern end of the Regional Park of the Guadarrama River is of least environmental interest in the Park, given its severe degradation by human habitation. The exception is located in the municipality of Batres, which has two enclaves of great ecological value, the Cárcava del Arenal and the Monte de Batre with species such as imperial eagle, golden eagle, Bonelli ‘s eagle and black vulture present.

Information/Visitors Centers

There doesn’t seem to be a specific Interpretation or information centre for the Curso Medio del Río Guadarrama y su Entorno though many of the towns and villages have tourist offices that can help you.

However, if you are in Madrid province then I would advise a visit to the National park of Guadarrama

Peñalara Visitors Center in Rascafría (Madrid)
Ctra. M-604, Km 42. Puerto de los Cotos. Rascafría

Valle de la Fuenfría Visitors Center in Cercedilla (Madrid)
Ctra. de las Dehesas, km 2 Cercedilla

La Pedriza Visitors Center in Manzanares El Real (Madrid)
Camino de la Pedriza, s/n Manzanares El Real

Valle de El Paular Visitors Center in Rascafría (Madrid)
Ctra. M-604 km 27,6 Rascafría

Valsaín Visitors Center (Boca del Asno) – La Granja de San Ildefonso (Segovia)
Ctra CL- 601 km 14,3 Valsaín


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Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park

  • Region: Madrid
  • Declared a Regional Park: 1985
  • Declared a Biosphere reserve: 1993
  • Park surface area: 42,583 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: Alcobendas, Becerril de la Sierra, Cercedilla, Collado-Villalba, Colmenar Viejo, El Boalo, Galapagar, Hoyo de Manzanares, Las Rozas, Madrid, Manzanares El Real, Miraflores de la Sierra, Moralzarzal, Navacerrada, Rascafría, San Sebastián de los Reyes, Soto del Real, Torrelodones and Tres Cantos.
Points of interest

The Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park (Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares) is one the largest protected natural areas in the Community of Madrid and now comes under the protection of the Guadarrama National Park.

It contains a valuable ecological landscape, is located in the northwest of the region and extends around the upper reaches of the Manzanares river on the southern slopes of the Guadarrama mountain range. There are numerous ecosystems and habitats such as pine and oak woodlands and various wetlands such as the two large reservoirs of Santillana and El Pardo

Monte de Viñuelas, which is located to the east of the park is also a Special Protection Zone for Birds (ZEPA ).

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Flora

The remarkable variety of ecosystems, together with the excellent state of conservation creates a great biodiversity regarding the flora so the area is a botanists delight.

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.

Singular trees

Within the Park there are several arboreal specimens included within the category of Singular Trees Ask in one of the visitor centres about…

  • The juniper in the Cerro de Valviejo
  • The Arizona cypress in Viñuelas
  • The Scots pine in Cadena
  • The poplar in Caño Viejo
  • The cork oak from Las Casiruelas

Fauna

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 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 (Timon lepida), Lataste’s viper (Vipera latastei) and European Pond Terrapin (Emys orbicularis).

Information/Visitors Centers

The Cuenca Alta del Manzanares Regional Park has two visitor centers that are now managed by the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park

Centro de attención de visitantes “La Pedriza”

The Center is located in the La Pedriza area, next to the asphalt track that connects with the Collado de Quebrantaherraduras with Canto Cochino, in the municipality of Manzanares El Real and two kilometers from the town. It is accessed from the M-608 road that connects Collado Villalba and Venturada, by the detour at kilometer 25,700. The center is located approximately 1.3 km on the La Pedriza road and about 200 meters before the access barrier.

The main building is the headquarters of the environmental education area of the Guadarramma National Park and has a permanent exhibition “Journey to the Sierra de Guadarrama“, with displays detailing the high peaks to the valleys of the Sierra, the fauna and flora encountered. In the outdoor enclosure, nine thematic areas show different natural aspects of the Sierra de Guadarrama.

The Visitor Information Point is a building located just after passing the barrier at the entrance to La Pedriza, it has brochures, route maps of the area and recommendations for the visit etc. It also has an exhibition area with temporary exhibitions.

Centro de attención de visitantes Valle de la Fuenfria

Located in Cercedilla, in the heart of the Fuenfría Valley. From the AP-6 / Madrid-A Coruña, exit 47 towards M-600 / El Escorial / Guadarrama towards Guadarrama and then the M-614 / Navacerrada-Guadarrama, once in Guadarrama take the M-622 to Cercedilla, and continue by the Ctra. de las Dehesas until Km 2.

The Center is surrounded by magnificent Scots pine forests, a unique enclave of the Sierra de Guadarrama, in the heart of the Fuenfría Valley. In this natural environment of great environmental value there is a wide network of trails and footpaths that run through the valley.

The permanent exhibition consists of a series of interpretive panels and an audiovisual on the Fuenfría valley and throughout the year there are several temporary exhibitions.

Outside there is a botanic garden with examples of local and endemic plantlife.

The official website for the Guadarrama National Park is here: https://www.parquenacionalsierraguadarrama.es/en/


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