Mountains and wetlands, beaches and forests, volcanoes, lava landscapes and lakes. Spain's 14 National Parks are distinctive for their variety, but above all, for their stunning ecological wealth. Nature takes centre stage in these unique areas, some of which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Stretching from the Pyrenees to the Canary Islands, Spain's National Parks are well worth discovering. They cover a total of more than 325,000 hectares of land of immense natural and cultural value with special state protection. Each National Park has its own special character which makes it unique and distinctive
In the Picos de Europa mountains, a last refuge for endangered species such as the brown bear and the capercaillie, you can explore trails that will take you across the dramatic Rio Cares gorge, or you can take one of the many routes to waterfalls, rivers and canyons in the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park which, with close to 200 lakes and ponds, is the largest area of lakes in the Pyrenees. In this mountain range you'll also find the UNESCO World Heritage Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park, crowned by the peak of Monte Perdido, at 3,355 metres above sea level. Explore its tracks and trails and enjoy some breathtaking scenery in a real paradise for nature lovers. The Sierra de Guadarrama National Park is the fifth largest in Spain's National Parks system. This mountain range in the centre of the Iberian peninsula contains some ecologically valuable areas and is home to 18% оf European fauna including, among others, deer, wild boar, wolf, wild cats, many species оf waterfowl аnd the Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Further south, in Andalusía, just a few kilonetres from the city of Granada is the unmistakable silhouette of the Sierra Nevada mountains, with the highest peaks on the Iberian peninsula, Mulhacén (3,482 metres) and Veleta (3,398 metres). If you like skiing, then you're in luck, as these mountains are home to the Sierra Nevada ski resort, the southernmost of its kind in Europe.
Spain has over 400 protected bird areas. Major colonies of sea birds make their nests in the Islas Atlánticas National Park and in the Cabrera Archipelago, the largest land and sea-based National Park in Spain. This biodiversity is particularly important in the Doñana park, which is also a World Heritage site, being the ideal habitat for numerous migratory birds and endangered species such as the Iberian lynx. Come and visit the Tablas de Daimiel or the Cabañeros National Parks, both of which are in the Castile-La Mancha region, and explore their wetlands and forests, criss-crossed by numerous trails that are easy for walking and where you can see a host of birdlife species. Or visit the Monfragüe National Park in Extremadura, home to the world's largest colony or black vultures.
Some of the most dramatic and contrasting landscapes are to be found in the National Parks of the Canary Islands. Head back into prehistory in the laurisilva forests of Garajonay. The volcanoes, craters and solidified lava in Timanfaya will make you think you have touched down on the moon. Enjoy the most rugged, untamed countryside at the Caldera de Taburiente National Park, with its almost sheer canyons and cliffs that soar to altitudes of over 2,000 metres. In Tenerife, Spain's highest peak, the Teide, is an imposing volcano that towers 3,718 metres above sea level, and one of the world's most spectacular geological monuments.
Whichever park you choose to visit you will be sure to find it is well worth discovering. You'll find a wide range of activities to suit all tastes and ages and …don't forget your camera!