Los Alerces National Park is a protected natural treasure, covering an area of 263,000 hectares, making it the fourth largest in Argentina. It is located in the province of Chubut, 50 km from Esquel and 25 km from Trevelin, on the border with Chile. This place has been declared a World Heritage Site, and is home to waterfalls, lagoons and impressive forests, as well as the millenary alerzal with more than 2600 years old. For lodging, there are several options available, including hostels, wilderness and organized campsites. We recommend spending at least three days to explore and enjoy this magnificent place.
How to get to Los Alerces NP?
As previously mentioned, Los Alerces National Park is located in the province of Chubut, near the cities of Esquel and Trevelin. Although Esquel has an airport, it is small and the prices of flights are usually high, in addition to the infrequency. We chose to fly to Bariloche from Buenos Aires, rent a car and drive the 5 hours that separate both cities. We consider this option to be convenient since we recommend having your own means of transportation to visit the national park and its surroundings. If renting a car is not an option, there are buses that go from Bariloche to Esquel and Trevelin.
How to visit the National Park of Los Alerces?
There are many ways to get to know the park:
- Lake or land excursions with tour agencies
- In your own vehicle. For us, this is the best way to get around, since the park is huge and gives you more freedom.
- By bicycle
- Walking. There are many trails connecting the lakes with the campsites and cabins.
- By public transportation. They leave from the bus terminal in the city of Esquel. During the summer months (January, February and December) it has higher frequencies and stops at some points of the park.
Best dates to visit Los Alerces National Park
Spring and autumn are excellent times to visit Los Alerces National Park because the temperatures are pleasant and there are fewer tourists. The only disadvantage is that the weather can be variable and there can be rainy and windy days. In summer (December, January and February) is the high season in the park, as temperatures are around 30 degrees, which is ideal for water sports. In winter, during the months of May and June, the weather is rainy, which causes the closure of many of the park's trails.
Los Alerces National Park
As we were telling you, the park is huge and has 3 access points:
The South Cover
This is closer to Trevelin and is where the Futaleufú Dam is located as well as several trails.
The North Cover
It is the quietest and least populated. It is a very beautiful valley where you can find Lake Rivadavia and Villa Rivadavia, a small rural town with minimal services.
The center cover
It could be considered as the main one since it is where most of the trails are located. Through this entrance you can access Futalaufquen Lake.
North Zone Trails
It is an easy and beautiful trail to do. It starts after crossing the footbridge of the Arrayanes River, of an incredible emerald color, and then goes along the Menendez River. The trail ends at Puerto Chucao (from where the excursions to the Alerzal Milenario depart). A few meters before arriving you can see the Lahuán or Alerce, approximately 300 years old. It takes 1 hour to complete the trail.
It can only be visited with a lake excursion. The navigation departs from Puerto Chucao to Puerto Sagrario where you will hike through the Valdivian Rainforest. During the tour you walk through majestic larch trees, among them "El Abuelo" of more than 2600 years old. This trail is 2 km long and of medium-low difficulty.
Green Lake Viewpoint
It is reached through a short trail of 1.6 km and of low difficulty. It starts at the Lago Verde Ranger Station. From the viewpoint you can see Lago Verde, Rivadavia and Menendez, a spectacular view!
It is a trekking that begins in the Ranger Station of Arrayanes River of 2 km and of medium difficulty. It is a short but steep trail. The ideal is to do it in the morning so the light favors the view.
Arroyo del Hacha Waterfall
It is a 45-minute trail of medium difficulty. It starts at Seccional Rivadavia where you will be able to see the waterfall next to the Rivadavia Lake viewpoint.
Alto el Petiso Hill
This is a high difficulty trail. It starts on the shore of Lago Verde, then goes through the forest in a snail climb and continues along the stream bed until it reaches the ridge where it ascends to the summit. This part is the most difficult since the whole path is rocky. You have to be careful and pay attention to the trail markers as they are not so visible. Once at the top the view is impressive. You can see Lake Menendez, Futalaufquen and Rivadavia, as well as the immensity of Los Alerces NP.
The route has an approximate distance of 8 km per section.
Quebrada del León
It is a super nice viewpoint to a waterfall. The trail is 1 km long, of medium difficulty, it takes you to the viewpoint over the creek.
One of the most outstanding attractions is the Torrecillas Glacier. To visit it, it is necessary to take an excursion that departs from the Port of Chucao and sail for about 40 minutes on the beautiful Lake Menéndez to Puerto Nuevo, where the journey begins. The ascent, which has a medium difficulty, takes approximately 1:30 to 2 hours. During the first part of the journey, you will pass through a Valdivian forest and then follow a mountain stream until you reach the Laguna del Antiguo, located at the foot of the spectacular Torrecillas Glacier.
This exciting excursion is available all year round and is highly recommended. We did it with the people of Glaxiar and were very satisfied with their professionalism and service.
Trails Central Zone
It is located 6 km from the Information Center on RP 71. You can get there by car up to the beginning of the trail and from there it is a super short 10 minute trail of low difficulty.
You will visit an overhang with cave paintings dating from the VII century A.D. to XVIII. The trail is 30 minutes (one way), of low to medium difficulty and starts at 1200 meters from the Villa Futalaufquen Information Center.
It is located on the Futalaufquen Lake, 3 kilometers from the Futalaufquen Lake Village. It can be accessed by vehicle or through a trekking path that runs through the forest and the edge of the lake. The trail is 4 km long and of medium difficulty.
Puerto Limonao offers a small beach with transparent waters ideal to enjoy. Several excursions depart from here during the summer.
The Krügger Lake is a small mirror of water with a singular beauty. It has a wild camping area and a refuge. It can be reached by lake excursion or trekking.
The trail to Krügger Lake is one of the most difficult in the park, so we recommend that you always check the status of the route. The trail is 16.5 km each way, takes about 7 hours (one way) and is of medium-high difficulty. The trail starts 3km from Puerto Limonao and passes through Playa Blanca.
Las Palanganas del Rio Frey
It is a trail that starts at the Krugger Lake Sectional and runs along the banks of the Frey River. At the end of the trail are known as Palanganas del Río Frey which is characterized by several specimens of fauna and flora of the area. It is a 5 km trail, it takes approximately 1 hour and a half, and it is of medium difficulty.
The Cerro Cocinero is one of the highest peaks in the region. It is a medium-high difficulty trail of about 4.3 km. It starts 150 meters from Arroyo Rañito. It has a steep slope that ascends through a canyon until it reaches a high valley.
Tio Mindo Waterfall
The trailhead is located 9 km from the Information Center. The trail is short, only 15 minutes and of low difficulty.
South Zone Trails
Los Tambores Waterfall
It is a 35-meter high waterfall fed by snowmelt and rainfall, so the flow varies depending on the time of year. It is a 10-minute trail that begins 1 km from the Portada Sur Information Center.
Laguna del Toro
The trail starts 500 meters from the Portada Sur Information Center and runs for about 5 km. It takes 4 hours to go there and back. It goes through a forest of cypress, coihues and ñires until reaching the Laguna del Toro at the foot of Cerro La Monja.
Mirados los Pozones
A 20-minute hike leads to a viewpoint that offers a view from the top of the pools with their crystalline waters. The difficulty is low.
Hydroelectric Complex Historical Interpretive Trail
It is a 20-minute trail that tells through signs the construction process of the Amutui Quimey Reservoir. In addition, you can take a drive along the dam wall to the top of the reservoir from where you can see the extension of the reservoir.
Where to sleep in Los Alerces NP?
As we mentioned earlier, the park has 9 wilderness camping areas, 7 organized camping areas, 7 free camping areas, 23 cabins, 5 inns, 1 shelter, 3 dining rooms, 3 outfitters and 3 kiosks.
Organized campgrounds: Bahía Rosales, Lago Rivadavia, Lago Verde, Los Maitines, Pucon Pai, Club Bancarios, Rahue
Camping Agrestes: 3 Bahías, Bahía Rosales, Lago Verde, Quebrada del Leon, Punta Mattos, Playa del Frances, Puerto Cañero, Río Grande
Free camping: Las Rocas, Irigoyen Waterfall, Coihue Viejo, Quebrada del León, Mattos Point, Playa del Frances, Puerto Cañero, Rio Grande.
Cabins, Dorms and Lodges: Bahia Rosales, Lago Verde, Futalaufquen, Quine Quipam, Rincón del Sol, Tejas Negras, Club Bancario, Centinela, Cume Hue, Pucón, Laguna Larga, El Aura Lodge
Recommendations / Clarifications
Many of the trails listed above require prior registration at the Ranger Center. Depending on the time of year you visit the park some trails may be closed, we recommend that you check with the Ranger Center beforehand.
Since it is a national park, all the garbage you generate in the park has to leave the park with you. Fires are only allowed in places where a sign allows it. The good condition of the park depends on everyone, when visiting it, do it responsibly and remember that it is a protected area.