Tag Archives: Madrid

Peñalara Natural Park

  • Region: Madrid
  • Declared a Natural Park: 1990
  • Park surface area: 768 hectares
  • Towns and villages: Rascafria

Points of interest

Some history behind the Peñalara Natural Park

During the 1920s there was a plan to create the Guadarrama National Park due to its important ecological value. The plan never started though due to changes in government and the Spanish Civil War. The area was, however, declared a Natural Site of National Interest in 1930, with the aim of preserving the landscape from external attacks. Even with that protection, in 1969 the ski resort of Valcotos was built which occupied much of Peñalara mountain and the construction of ski lifts, small buildings, slopes and various clearings caused serious damage to the flora, fauna and the terrain.

During the 1980s, a project was created to protect the eastern slope of the Peñalara peak including the lagoons and in 1990, the Community of Madrid declared the area as a natural park of the Cumbre, Circo and Lagunas de Peñalara. From 1998 to early 2000 the ski resort of Valcotos that occupied much of the southern part of the protected area was dismantled, the ski lifts were removed and the old tracks were planted with Scots pine.

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Guadarrama National Park

  • Region: Madrid and Castilla y León
  • Province: Madrid and Segovia
  • Declared a National Park: 2013
  • Park surface area: 33, 960 hectares
  • Towns and Villages: (Madrid) Alameda del Valle, Becerril de la Sierra, Canencia, Cercedilla, El Boalo, Guadarrama, Los Molinos, Lozoya, Manzanares el Real, Miraflores de la Sierra, Navacerrada, Navarredonda y San Mamés, Pinilla del Valle, Rascafría, Soto del Real. (Segovia) Aldealengua de Pedraza, Basardilla, Collado Hermoso, El Espinar, Gallegos, La Losa, Navafría, Navas de Riofrío , Ortigosa del Monte, Otero de Herreros, Palazuelos de Eresma, Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, Santiuste de Pedraza, Santo Domingo de Pirón, Segovia, Sotosalbos, Torre Val de San Pedro, Torrecaballeros, Trescasas.

Points of interest

Not without it’s controversy over the years (due to it conflicting with housing and other human development plans), the Guadarrama National Park project was finally declared in 2013.

Its aims are to protect the eleven different ecosystems present in the Guadarrama mountains, including the only Iberian examples of “high Mediterranean mountain”. There are almost 1,300 different animal species in the area of which 13 are in danger of extinction. The species of animals in the mountains represent 45% of the total fauna of Spain and 18% of European fauna. There are mammals such as deer (red, roe and fallow), wild boar, Spanish Ibex, badgers, several mustelidaes, wild cats, foxes, hares, etc. Iberian wolf also seems to have returned to the area after a 70-year absence..

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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 ).

The area has also become famous as a starlight destination. The Starlight Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2009 to promote the protection of the night sky and the development of “astrotourism” and there is an ever growing list of starlight destinations in Spain to visit.

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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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