Argentine Patagonia parks : Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz

Travel guide Argentina ▷ Discover the 17 protected areas of Argentine Patagonia, all spectacular

NAHUEL HUAPI National Park (Neuquén and Río Negro)

This region, representative of the north Andean Patagonia was the first natural area protected in Argentina in 1922. This park covers 705,000 acres in the south of Neuquén and the north of Río Negro, and is part of the city of Bariloche. Full of forests and lakes, this place outstands for its ecological value and the beauty of its landscapes. The varied climates and heights are favorable to the conservation of different types of Andean ecosystems, from steeps to high plateau. The National Park authorities prepared several paths for excursions.

LOS ARRAYANES National Park (Río Negro)

The area of the Nahuel Huapi National Park, Los Arrayanes, has been classified for a long time as independent National Park since 1971. It covers the whole Quetrihué Peninsula, 1,753 acres, and is composed of arrayan (Luma apiculata) forests. The arrayan tree belongs to the myrtaceae family and is the refuge of two endangered endemic species: The Southern pudú, the smallest deer in the world; and the Southern river otter, Chile’s otter.

LANÍN National Park (Neuquén)

Created as of 1937, the Lanín Park which covers an area of 412,000 acres aims at protecting a representative sector of the North Andean-Patagonian forest, especially the araucaria tree. Archeological excavations and cave-type art confirm the existence of human presence 10,000 years ago. Park management’s unique characteristic is that there is an association between the park’s administration and mapuches communities. The landscape of forests and lakes, named after the Lanín Volcano, is exceptionally beautiful.

ANDINO NORPATAGÓNICA Biosphere Reserve (Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut)

Unesco incorporated this natural area to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 2007. It is a reserve of more than 2 million acres where National and Provincial parks coexist and three provinces are involved: Neuquén, Río Negro, and Chubut. Although animal species are not high in number, they are endemic. The local population involved in the defense of this environment should join sustainable development projects.

LAGO PUELO National Park (Chubut)

This natural reserve was first part of Los Alerces Park in 1937, before it was declared National Park in 1971. Its 27,674 forest acres and steep on the border with Chile are an example of the magnificent Andean-Patagonian landscapes. The park protects the richest flora of the regional parks: cypresses, trees of the Valdivian forest, laurels, Eurocryphiaceae, etc.

LOS ALERCES National Park (Chubut)

Created in 1937 in an area of 263,000 acres, this National Park protects a larche forest, the Patagonian cypress, a thousand-year-old tree. This Andean region of Chubut is full of rivers, torrents, and mountain lakes.

PENÍNSULA VALDÉS Natural Reserve (Chubut)

The Valdés Peninsula is an important place in the world for breeding and conservation of sea mammals: Southern right whales, killer whales, sea lions, and sea elephants. Chubut province classified it as natural reserve in 1983, with the aim of controlling and regulating the touristic activity. The peninsula has been registered in the Unesco Natural Patrimony of Humanity since 1999.

BALLENA FRANCA AUSTRAL (Southern Right Whale) Natural Monument

This sea mammal was one of the most affected by commercial exploitation from the 18th Century to the beginning of the 20th century. It has been protected since 1937 by different international agreements. Argentina declared the Southern right whale National Natural Monument in 1984 and Chubut province regulates touristic activities to observe them during its breeding period in peninsula Valdés.

PUNTA TOMBO Provincial Reserve (Chubut)

A provincial reserve since 1979, Punta Tombo is a rocky cape of 3 km long in the south of Puerto Madryn. It is also the main breeding place, from September to April, of the Magellan penguin. Within the colony, there are millions of penguins, gulls, cormorants, oystercatchers, Antarctic pigeons, petrels.

PATAGONIA AUSTRAL Costal Maritime Park (Chubut)

The creation of the first coastal maritime park in Argentina was launched in August 2007, under an agreement between the Administration of National Parks and Chubut Province. This future protected area, situated on the north of San Jorge Gulf (between Comodoro Rivadavia and Camarones) includes 100 km of coast, 42 islands, where 38 species of fish, a high number of birds (cormorants, petrels, and Magellan penguins), and sea mammals (whales, dolphins, and sea elephants) live and breed. This park aims at protecting marine, land, and coastal ecosystems, as well as framing entertainment activities.

BOSQUES PETRIFICADOS Natural Monument (Santa Cruz)

The Argentine government decided to classify the group of fossil forests on the northeast to the province of Santa Cruz as National Monument in 1954, in an area of 60,000 acres. The volcanic eruptions of the Cretaceous, in the period of the Andes formation, buried and petrified the gigantic trees of this Patagonian region. Time erosion ended up revealing them, as proof of Earth’s history.

PERITO MORENO National Park (Santa Cruz)

This park was created in 1937 as a tribute to the naturalist Francisco Moreno, in an area of 115,000 acres and protects the rich ecosystem in the Northeast of Santa Cruz province: lenga forest, lakeside systems, Patagonian steep, fauna variety, and paleontology site.

LOS GLACIARES National Park (Santa Cruz)

This huge park of 724,000 acres, one of the first parks in Argentina, was created in 1937 to protect glaciers, the Patagonian ice field, and the Andean-South Patagonian forest. There are 47 glaciers coming down from the ice field that covers one third of the park’s surface. It was registered as Natural Patrimony of Humanity in 1981 thanks to its exceptional beauty and ecological interest.

MONTE LEÓN National Park (Santa Cruz)

This park was created in 2004 in more than 60,000 acres and protects both the landscape of a coast sculpted by the erosion, and the typical flora and fauna of the south of Patagonia. A huge colony of Magellan penguins, sea lions, and birds may be especially observed in this park. 200 km to the North of Río Gallegos.

TIERRA DEL FUEGO National Park

This precipitous mountain, in the middle of glacial valleys and forests, was classified in part (60, 000 acres) as National Park in 1960. This region, considered as inhospitable, was inhabited 10,000 years ago, according to archeological excavations. A high number of water birds come to nest in the coastal area, on the shores of Lapataia Bay and Ushuaia.