Highlights and main attractions of Los Cardones National Park

Located in the central west region of Argentina, near Salta, Los Cardones is a sweeping landscape of ravines, sierras and valleys, covering 650 square kilometres at varying altitudes, between 2,500 and 5,226 metres. Protecting prehistoric patrimony, containing dinosaur tracks and fossils, this sun-kissed and arid region contrasts with a majority of the rest of the country, a truly unique experience.

Established as a protected area in 1996, the terrain ranges from sierras of soaring mountains and isolated hills to foothills.

Where is Los Cardones National Park?

Cerro Negro and a bit of history

The lowlands are fed by streams and springs, the water of which brings minerals to the lowest areas of the quarry basin.  Salta, located in the Calchaquíes Valley,  is the nearest city to the park entrance. The area was of great importance during pre-Columbian times as a junction and route built by the Incans, which was used by shepherds and their herds.

The highest point in the park is the Cerro Negro at 5,226 metres and there are countless areas to explore such as the Cachipampa plain, the Enchanted Valley, the Obispo Slope, the Incan traced Tin-Tin Straight road one, several churqui forests and Argentina’s largest chandelier cactus woodland. The Piedra del Molino is also another impressive sight – a gigantic granite sculpture at 3,600 metres high with incredible views over the park. 

The area is great area for birding with over 100 species, the condor being the most significant, and it holds huge interest to palaeontologists, as dinosaur prints here are said to have an antiquity of 70 million years.

Accommodation options are mainly in Salta, with the neo-Classical Solar de la Plaza offering intimacy and luxury with just 12 rooms in a traditional Spanish-style mansion. The Legado Mitico is inspired by the culture and history of the region, with rooms names and styled after eminent figures from native groups of the region.

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