Los Cardones Overview

Los Cardones National Park, established in 1996, is situated in the province of Salta, in the northwest region of Argentina. Spanning an expansive area of approximately 650 square kilometers (about 251 square miles), the park is nestled in the Calchaquí Valleys, at altitudes ranging from 2,700 to 5,000 meters above sea level. Named after the cardón grande cactus (Echinopsis atacamensis), which dominates the landscape, the park is a striking example of the Andean highland ecosystem, known locally as the Puna.

The park’s landscape is characterized by vast fields of cardón cacti, which are adapted to the arid conditions and form one of the most iconic scenes of the Argentine highlands. These cacti can reach impressive heights and are vital to the local ecosystem, providing shelter and sustenance to various species of birds and insects. The cardón cactus is not only a symbol of the park but also an important part of the cultural heritage of the region, deeply intertwined with the history and traditions of the indigenous communities.

Los Cardones National Park is also known for its remarkable geological formations, including the Serranías del Crestón and the Valle Encantado, which offer dramatic vistas and are a testament to the region’s volcanic past. Additionally, the park contains significant archaeological sites, with ancient rock art and pre-Columbian ruins that provide insights into the area’s early inhabitants.

Visitors to Los Cardones National Park can explore its natural beauty through a network of trails suitable for hiking and mountain biking. The Recta del Tin-Tin, a straight stretch of National Route 33 that runs through the park, is aligned with the ancient Inca road system and offers a scenic drive through the heart of the cactus fields.

Los Cardones National Park is not only a place of breathtaking natural beauty but also a conservation area that protects the unique flora, fauna, and cultural heritage of the Argentine Andes, making it a must-visit destination for those exploring the diverse landscapes of Argentina.

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Park Map
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Los Cardones National Park Pictures