National Parks in Argentina: Hiking, bird watching, spotting a penguin colony, or stumbling upon prehistoric cave paintings or fossil dinosaur tracks—all of these activities and diverse national parks await you. You can choose what kind of adventure you want to do, whether you go somewhere isolated or popular, or opt for a desert or snowfield. Argentina’s national parks offer a vast array of options for outdoor explorers.
10 Amazing National Parks in Argentina
- Nahuel Huapi National Park
Around the mountain town of Bariloche in Patagonia’s Rio Negro province, Nahuel Huapi National Park includes some of Argentina’s most famous hikes, such as the free trek or the way to the hanging glaciers of Mount Tronador. Its seven lakes offer cool, clear waters that are perfect for a cold dip after a long day of rock climbing. Other activities here include camping in the Refugio (mountain huts), tent camping by Colonia Suja, rafting, kite surfing, snowboarding, and skiing. Day hikers can enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view at the top of Cerro Campanero, which showcases the vast area and beauty of the park’s lakes, peninsulas, and forests.
- Los Glaciares National Park
Visitors to Los Glaciares National Park come to see and trek the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the second largest ice field in the Southern Hemisphere. Every two to four years large crowds gather here to see parts of the Perito Moreno Glacier crash in Lago Argentina. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park also includes treks in two of the country’s most famous mountains: Mount Fitz Roy and Mount Torre. Home to hummus (Patagonian deer), condors, black-chested buzzard eagles, rheas, guanacos, and pumas, the park includes subarctic forests as well as towering mountains. Stay in nearby El Calafate if you want to see glaciers, or El Chalten is a better base for hiking.
- Tierra del Fuego National Park
Tierra del Fuego translates to “Land of Fire”, so named so by Ferdinand Magellan and his men in 1520 when they saw the bonfires of indigenous tribes in the area. Spanning a vast archipelago, the national park includes subpolar forests, marine shorelines, lakes, lagoons, peat bogs, and snow-capped mountains. Hikers trek its 25 miles of trails, occasionally encountering guanacos, or Fujian foxes.
Two popular trails are the Coastal Path which runs parallel to the Beagle Channel and Milestone XXIV, an easy hike to the border with Chile. Tierra del Fuego is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, filled with Australia’s parrots, seagulls, kingfishers, condors, king penguins, owls, and fire crown hummingbirds. The city of Ushuaia is only seven and a half miles away, but camping is available for those who want to immerse themselves in experiencing the flora and fauna of the park.
- Jaramillo Petrified Forest National Park
High on the Patagonian Steppe is a stony forest older than in the Andes: the Petrified Forest of Jaramillo. Now extinct, these fearsome trees, the ancient evergreen is known as “Araucaria mirabilis,” dot the arid, windy landscape. Along with large, flightless birds (both rhea and ostriches), guanacos, and foxes, it is one of the country’s most important fossil sites, along with scientists.
Take a guided tour with park rangers or visit the onsite museum where you can learn how the volcanic activity started turning these trees into rocks about 150 million years ago. Nearby Estancia La Paloma offers food, fire pits, overnight camping, and two of the world’s largest spooky trees. Located in the province of Santa Cruz, the nearest village is Jaramillo.
- Golfo San Jorge National Park
The largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America lives here every year from September to March. Find penguins wading and nesting in Punta Tombo Provincial Reserve, part of the larger Golfo San Jorge National Park. Bird enthusiasts also try to spot kelp gulls, dolphin gulls, skua, king cormorants, snowy sheathbills, and many other types of birds. Whales and dolphins can also be seen swimming in the bay. Located in the province of Chubut, it is easily accessible from the cities of Puerto Madryn (a famous whale-watching spot in its own right) or Trelew.
- Chaco National Park
Only 3.5 miles from the city of Capitan Solari in Chaco Province, Chaco National Park includes part of the Argentinean Gran Chaco, filled with warm lowlands and large red and white quebracho (ax-breakers) trees. The park has savannas, swamps and lakes, and many trails on which you can see capybaras, caimans, or armadillos. More than 340 species of bird call the park home, making bird-watching the other major activity in addition to hiking. One of the best places to do both is on the trail to Lake Panja de Cabra, a major water source for most of the wildlife in the area. The indigenous communities of Mokowi and Toba also live within the park.
- Sierra de las Quijadas National Park
Red desert canyons give way to the Desaguadero River and tall sandstone pillars in this remote national park in San Luis Province. Fossils and dinosaurs tracks across the landscape, and condors and black-chested buzzard-eagles fly over flocks of guanacos. Visitors come for hiking, serenity, and wildlife viewing. It is recommended to book a local hiking guide through the park’s headquarters as flash floods can occur, especially in summer. There are no stores in the park and the main road leading to it. Visitors should bring whatever water and provisions they plan to use during their stay at the park.
- Iguazu Falls National Park
Hear the crash and feel the mist of the world’s largest waterfall system at the Cataratas de Iguazu (Iguazu Falls) Parque Nacional. 275 waterfalls form a natural border between Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, and Foz de Iguazu, Brazil. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Argentine side of the park offers a more interactive experience in which visitors can hike around the top and bottom of the falls, and get up close to the tallest and most majestic waterfall of them all: Devil’s Throat, a Huge cascade of water from 262 feet above the vast basin of mist. In addition to climbing around the falls, visitors can see wild coatis, jaguars, and toucans, and take a boat ride that plunges in and out of the falls.
- Los Cardones National Park
Giant, proudly standing candelabra cactus, towering desert peaks, and large groves of enchanted canyons – this was once the land of the Incas. See condors, eagles, vicuna, wild donkeys, and foxes, and walk and roam the arid mountain ranges and serene valleys of Los Cardones National Park. Located in the province of Salta, the nearest city to the park is Salta (the capital of the same name), which is approximately 60 miles away. Visitors can enjoy hiking through four different types of ecological areas, bird-watching (more than 100 varieties nest here), and viewing cave paintings and fossil dinosaur tracks. Visitors must bring their own supplies, as the park does not have facilities.
- Laguna Blanca National Park
White Lakes National Park is named after its most famous resident: the black-necked swan. When swans swim on the lake, the white feathers on their bodies make the lake appear as if it is covered with snow. Birding is the most popular activity here, as over 100 species of ducks, coots, geese, and flamingos call the park home. Located just a few miles from the town of Zapala in the province of Neuquen, the park also houses the Salamanca Cave with rock paintings, the endangered Patagonia frog, and several hiking trails.