- Region: Castilla y Leon. (Burgos)
- Park surface area: 45,767 hectares.
- Declared a Natural Park: 2008.
- Special Protection Area for Birds (ZEPA).
- Towns and villages in the area: Alfoz de Bricia, Basconcillos del Tozo, Los Altos, Sargentes de la Lora, Tubilla del Agua, Valle de Manzanedo, Valle de Sedano, Valle de Valdebezana, Valle de Zamanzas
Points of interest
The Hoces del Alto Ebro y Rudrón natural park is located in the northwest of the province of Burgos and presents a landscape of great beauty. Narrow valley bottoms wedged between steep gorges and cliffs are crossed by the Ebro and Rudrón rivers. These are in contrast to the extensive, almost flat moorlands located at higher altitudes.
A short clip showing the diverse landscape of the Hoces del Alto Ebro y Rudrón natural park
The Ebro River crosses the north of the province of Burgos from Orbaneja del Castillo to beyond Miranda de Ebro for 150 km in a succession of canyons (hoces) alternating with open valleys, as well as other natural elements in the surroundings that constitute an area of natural interest. The route of the river goes from west to east, but very sinuous, either because it ends up crossing a mountain massif in the most favorable place (dissolution of limestone rocks mainly) or because it forms meanders in the valleys.
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The Las Loras UNESCO Global Geopark
The nearby Las loras UNESCO Global Geopark is halfway between the Castilian Plateau and the Cantabrian Mountain Range. This transitional location gives the region the typical weather and environmental features of the surrounding regions. It also possesses a wide range of environments and biodiversity, with both Euro-Siberian sites as well as Mediterranean sites. In addition, the unusual topography resulted in a peculiar landscape where limestone cliffs and significant high altitude moorlands alternate with gorges and deep valleys created by the river system.
The most notable areas to visit in the area are
- The gorges of Orbaneja del Castillo: A large waterfall and the rocky ridge above the town cut out in the shape of battlements and which gives rise to the name of the town. “of the castle”
- Las Hoces del Rudrón: The Rudrón River passes through Basconcillos del Tozo and then submerges into a sinkhole. It reappears in the Cueva del Moro in Barrio Panizares. Later it forms the Rudrón Valley until it flows into the Ebro River in Valdelateja. (Here there is also a hot spring that has given rise to a spa.) Before Valdelateja, in Covanera, is the Pozo Azul, a well-shaped spring whose crystalline waters appear to be blue.
- La Hoya de Huidobro: A closed basin to the southeast of Valdelateja with a large beech and oak forest and where the Moreco dolmen is located.
- The gorges from Tudanca to Cidad de Ebro.
- Las Palancas gorge: Tributary of the Ebro river between Munilla (Burgos) and Landravés.
- Hocinos Gorge: Between Hocina and Valdenoceda.
- La Horadada gorge: Between Cereceda and Trespaderne.
- The gorge of the Oca River: A tributary of the Ebro River, from Oña to the confluence with the La Horadada gorge.
- The gorge between Frías and Montejo de Cebas.
- The Sobron gorge: A deep canyon with a large colony of vultures and which serves as the border between Burgos and Álava.
The habitats in the Hoces del Alto Ebro and Rudrón natural park encompass a diverse range of ecological settings, each characterized by unique vegetation and environmental conditions. These habitats play a vital role in supporting various species of flora and fauna.
- Natural Eutrophic Lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition Vegetation: These are freshwater lakes characterized by rich nutrient levels, featuring plant communities dominated by Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition species.
- Southern Atlantic Wet Heaths of Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix: These habitats are found in the southern Atlantic region and are dominated by heath vegetation, primarily consisting of Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix.
- European Dry Heathlands: European dry heathlands are arid landscapes with characteristic dry vegetation, contributing to the region’s unique biodiversity.
- Endemic Oro-Mediterranean Heaths with Gorse: These habitats are exclusive to the Oro-Mediterranean region and are characterized by heathland vegetation, often accompanied by gorse.
- Tree Thickets of Juniperus spp: These habitats feature dense stands of Juniperus species, creating unique ecological niches for various wildlife.
- Calcareous Alpine and Subalpine Meadows: These alpine and subalpine meadows thrive in calcareous soils and are home to specialized flora and fauna adapted to high-altitude conditions.
- Semi-Natural Dry Meadows and Scrub Facies on Calcareous Substrates (Festuco-Brometalia): These areas are characterized by semi-natural dry meadows and scrublands growing on calcareous soils, often hosting notable orchid species.
- Substeppic Zones of Grasses and Annuals of Thero Brachypodietea: Substeppic zones feature grasses and annual plants adapted to semi-arid conditions, particularly belonging to the Thero Brachypodietea class.
- Moist Mediterranean Tall Grass Meadows of the Molinion Holoschoenion: These meadows are situated in the Mediterranean region and are characterized by tall grasses, contributing to the region’s lush landscape.
- Low-Altitude Poor-Mowed Meadows: These meadows, located at lower altitudes, host plant species like Alopecurus pratensis and Sanguisorba officinalis, forming unique ecosystems.
- Transition ‘Mires‘: Transition mires are wetland habitats with characteristics of both peat bogs and fens, providing a niche for various wetland species.
- Petrifying Springs with Tuf Formation (Cratoneurion): These unique springs are known for tuf formation and are inhabited by specialized flora and fauna adapted to these mineral-rich environments.
- Western Mediterranean and Thermophilic Landslides: These habitats occur in Western Mediterranean areas and thermophilic regions and host distinct plant communities that thrive on landslide terrain.
- Calcicolous Rocky Slopes with Chasmophytic Vegetation: These rocky slopes support vegetation adapted to the calcareous substrate, often featuring chasmophytic species.
- Caves Not Exploited by Tourism: These natural caves remain undisturbed by human activities, providing crucial habitats for various cave-dwelling species.
- Atlantic Acidophilic Beech Forests with Undergrowth of Ilex and Sometimes Taxus (Quercion robori-petraeae or Ilici-Fagenion): These forests in the Atlantic region are primarily composed of acidophilic beech trees, often accompanied by undergrowth of Ilex and occasionally Taxus.
- Middle European Calcicolous Beech Forests of the Cephalanthero-Fagion: These calcicolous beech forests are found in Middle Europe and harbor diverse flora and fauna adapted to their unique conditions.
- Forests of the Tilio-Acerion Ravines: These forested areas grow in ravines and are characterized by a mix of lime and maple trees.
- Alluvial Forests of Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae): These alluvial forests are dominated by Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior, contributing to the richness of riparian ecosystems.
- Galician-Portuguese Oak Forests with Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica: These oak forests are prominent in the Galician and Portuguese regions, featuring Quercus robur and Quercus pyrenaica species.
- Iberian Oak Forests of Quercus faginea and Quercus canariensis: These oak forests are specific to the Iberian Peninsula and are characterized by the presence of Quercus faginea and Quercus canariensis.
- Gallery Forests of Salix alba and Populus alba: These gallery forests along riverbanks are dominated by Salix alba and Populus alba species.
- Holm Oak Forests of Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia: Holm oak forests, featuring Quercus ilex and Quercus rotundifolia, are prevalent in various regions.
A much longer film about the Hoces del Alto Ebro y Rudrón natural park. In Spanish with English subtitles
These diverse habitats collectively contribute to the ecological richness and biodiversity of the areas in which they are found, providing essential niches for a wide array of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect and preserve these valuable ecosystems.
Here are some of the most notable habitats that include a diverse range of ecosystems, each playing a crucial role in supporting various animal species.
- Rivers: Rivers are vital ecosystems, home to a variety of aquatic life. Notable species found in these habitats include the crayfish (Austrapotamobius pallipes), trout (Salmo trutta), bermejuela (Chondrostoma arcasii), gusgeon (Gobio gobio), and minnow (Phoxinus phoxinus).
- Thickets, Riverbanks, and Water Sources: These areas, with their proximity to water sources and humidity, are essential for a wide range of animal communities and serve as biological corridors. Among the notable inhabitants are the Iberian emerald lizard (Lacerta schreiberi), kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), scops owl (Otus scops), lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor), otter (Lutra lutra), and Iberian desman (Galemys pyrenaicus), along with other species.
- Mosaics of Meadows and Hedges: These habitats, often found in meadows or valley floors, support various wildlife. They are home to the butterfly Euphydryas aurinia, birds like the red-backed shrike (Lanius collurio) and ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortelana), as well as mammals such as the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), badger (Meles meles), and wild cat (Felis silvestris).
- Cliffs and Caves: These environments are vital for cave-dwelling entomofauna and serve as refuge and breeding grounds for different bat species, including Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, R. hipposideros, Myotis emarginata, M. myotis, M. blythi, Miniopterus schreibersi, Tardarida teniotis, Eptesicus serotinus, and Plecotus spp. Additionally, they provide nesting sites for a diverse community of birds, including the Bonelli’s eagle (Hieraaetus fasciatus), Egyptian vulture (Neophron percnopterus), golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos), peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), eagle owl (Bubo bubo), and red-billed chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax).
- Deciduous Forests: These forests are of great ecological value, hosting two significant coleopterans, the long-horned beetle (Cerambys pig) and the stag beetle (Lucanus cervus). They also serve as breeding grounds for numerous forest birds like the short-toed snake eagle (Circaetus gallicus), lesser spotted woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor), red kite (Milvus milvus), black kite (Milvus migrans), goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus), Hobby (Falco subbuteo), European honey buzzard (Pernis apivorus), European nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus), booted eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus), as well as providing habitats for carnivores like the Iberian wolf (Canis lupus) and some bat species, including the lesser noctule (Nyctalus leisleri), Kuhls pipistrelle (Pipistrelus kuhli), and Western barbastelle (Barbastella barbastellus).
- Open Environments with Grasslands and Bushes: These areas are critical for maintaining a rich steppe fauna. They provide habitat for bird species like the Montagu’s harrier (Circus pygargus), hen harrier (Circus cyaneus), short-eared owl (Asio flammeus), Eurasian stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Calandras lark (Melanocorypha calandra), Greater short-toed lark (Calandrela brachydactyla), and field pipit (Anthus campestres). Moreover, they serve as essential feeding grounds for many birds of prey and bats inhabiting other habitats in the area.
These diverse habitats collectively contribute to the rich biodiversity of the region, highlighting the importance of their conservation and preservation to ensure the survival of these remarkable animal species.
Centro de recepción de visitantes del Geoparque Las Loras
Address: Calle Diego Porcelos, 8. Villadiego. 09120 Burgos
Las Loras Geopark Visitor Reception Center is located behind the Villadiego town hall and is an important place for exploring the ‘Las Loras’ Geopark, which covers parts of Burgos and Palencia provinces. This area is full of interesting geological features and hidden treasures waiting to be discovered.
The Visitor Reception Center is in a building with two floors. On the ground floor, you can learn about UNESCO Geoparks and, in particular, the Las Loras Geopark and its cultural heritage. You can use a downloadable audio guide with a QR code to help you explore. They also provide information about the region, its activities, and other Geopark Centers around the world. The ground floor even has a Geolab where you can do research and take part in workshops.
Upstairs, there’s an exciting guided tour that takes you on a journey through the geological history of the area over the last 250 million years. You’ll see fossils, rocks, models, and impressive images that help you understand how the landscape has changed over time and why it looks the way it does today. It’s a fascinating experience that lets you explore different geological landscapes and learn about their origins.
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