Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park

Nature Parks in Aragon
 

Overview
The Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park is located at the north of Huesca province in Aragon.  It covers over 15,000 hectares and includes one of the highest peaks in the Pyrenees, the Monte Pedido (3,355 metres) which is topped with a glacier.  It is a hiker’s paradise with trails to suit all abilities. The highest areas at elevations above 2,000 metres are extremely arid. All precipitation is quickly drained inside the karstic system. By contrast, the bottoms of the valleys are dominated by a lush vegetation of beeches and firs that give way to European black pine at higher elevations.

The park is located north west of Posets-Maladeta Natural Park and to the north of Sierra y Cañones de Guara Natural Park.

Walking
Access to the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park is free except during Easter holidays and from the 1st  June to the Pilar Holidays. During this time, a bus service based in Torla is set up to reach the valley of Ordesa; it is forbidden to travel there by car, so as to limit the number of people and vehicles going to the Park.  There are Interpreting Centres in the area of the National Park which offer information regarding the most advisable outings, nature, traditions, access routes, limitations and documents that may be useful for the visitor.  The best times to visit are in Spring through to Autumn, bearing in mind the heat of Spain’s summers.  During winter the park is covered in snow. There are also mountain huts that are maintained for hikers. 

 

Sightseeing
There are many beautiful waterfalls which are part of the Arazas River which weaves its way through the park.  One of the most famous is the 'Horse’s Tail'.  Other waterfalls worth visiting are the Traveler’s Stop, the steps of Soaso and Estrecho, and the Rainbow or the Torrombotera.

Geology
Most of the rock of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park is limestone. Superimposed on the oldest glacial erosion is the karstic transformation of the landscape, with multiple caves, canyons and chasms. The park is dominated by the massiff of the Three "Sorores", "Treserols"; the tallest being the Monte Perdido.  The valleys have been carved out by glaciers over thousands of years. Other important features are the Añisclo Canyon, drained by the Bellós River in a southerly direction, the Escuaín Gorges, drained by the Yaga River in a southeasterly direction, and the Pineta Valley, drained by the Cinca River.

Animals/Birds
The birdlife in the park is vast with around 170 species recorded, including golden eagles and royal eagles, the common vulture.  Mammals include ibex, wild boar, otters and foxes. There are other species like the marmot, boar and the Pyrenean Desman or water-mole.

Even though forests cover only 20% of the area of the park, they provide food and shelter for most of the animals that are founfd there. There are around 38 species of mammals, 68 species of breeding birds, 5 amphibians, 8 reptiles and 5 species of fish.

There are over 2,000 chamois resident in the park and a growing population of roe deer, which were locally extinct 50 years ago. The park is also home to the Pyrenean brown bear and around 20 individuals are to be found in the most remote areas.

Other mammal species include: otters, foxes, genets, marmots, bobcats, martens, dormice, badgers, squirrels, field mice, ferrets, voles and shrews. While bird species include: Tengmalm's owl, black woodpecker, woodpecker, woodpecker , owl, scops owl, nightjar, wren, golden eagle, griffon vulture, black vulture, Egyptian vulture, kite, black kite, short-toed eagle and partridge.

Plants
The flora of the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park consists of nearly 1400 species, representing almost 45% of plants in the Aragonese Pyrenees, of which 82 are plants unique to the Pyrenees, that is, half of the endemic species of the Cordillera.

The vegetation is lush, with forests of beach, pine, alba and some birch. Above the tree line, many seasonal wildflowers including edelweiss, gentians, orchids, violets, belladonna, and anemones, can be found in the meadows.

At altitudes up to 1,500 meters, there are extensive forests of beech, pine, oak, birche, ash and willow. At elevations up to 2,000 metres are dominated by mountain pine with some boxwood. In the high meadows from 1,700 to 3,000 meters, there are numerous endemic species including: Androsace cylindrica, Pinguicula longifolia, Petrocoptis crassifolia, Borderea pyrenaica, Campanula cochleariifolia, Ramonda myconi and Silene borderei.

 

 
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