Local towns and villages: Comillas, San Vicente de la Barquera, Udías, Valdáliga and Val de San Vicente
Declared a Natural Park: 1988.
Park surface area: 5758 hectares.
Points of interest
The Oyambre Natural Park is a Spanish protected natural area located on the western coast of Cantabria. A great success story as the park was declared after pressure from local and international ecologist groups (begining in the the seventies) protesting against urban development projects that endangered its dunes and beach environment.
The natural park, which includes the estuaries of Ría de San Vicente, Ría de la Rabia and its surroundings constitutes a magnificent example of a coastal ecosystem. In addition to cliffs, areas of meadows and native hardwood forests, there are various dune systems which together with those of the Dunas de Liencres Natural Park make up some of the most important dune ecosystems on the Cantabrian coast.
Today’s Doodle celebrates Picos de Europa National Park. Spread across 11 villages in northern Spain, the park is home to meadows, lakes, and a steep, sloping mountain range. On this day (the 17th of September) in 2001, the Bulnes cable car was inaugurated, which ended the isolation of the town of Bulnes which is located in the Picos de Europa. The Bulnes train station can be spotted within the second “G” in today’s Doodle artwork!
The park’s natural beauty and abundant resources attract more than millions of visitors annually. From flourishing grasslands to dense forests, its 67,127 hectares provide ideal dwelling places for protected species like bearded vultures, brown bears, and Iberian wolves. The Cantabrian chamois has become the unofficial mascot of the park. Statues of the mountain goat antelope decorate trail signs and lodging throughout. Picos De Europa is also a flower enthusiast’s paradise with over 40 orchid species and rare fauna like the pulsatilla rubra — known for its vibrant red petals with golden yellow stamens.
In 2003, UNESCO approved Biosphere Reserve status for the park, establishing it as a site for scientific work. Nearly a decade later, Spain extended the park’s boundaries to its current size. Today, Picos de Europa remains one of nature’s wonders and reminds us why we should protect it.
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.
In the lush wilderness of the Cantabrian Mountains, an ongoing debate is stirring within the conservation community regarding the most accurate methodology for assessing the population of Cantabrian bears, an iconic and endangered species native to northern Spain.
For decades, the traditional method of estimating the bear population relied on an annual census of bears with cubs. However, recent shifts in policy by several regional governments are advocating for an exclusive reliance on genetic analysis for this purpose.