Los Glaciares National Park
Los Glaciares National Park is located in the southernmost region of Argentina. The national park encompasses an area of 2,806.9 square miles (7,269 sq km). It is the largest national park within the country of Argentina and is a sister park with Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.
The name is derived from the ice cap located in the Andes of this part of the range. This Andes ice cap is the largest glacier field in the world apart from Greenland and Antarctica. It serves as the source for 47 large glaciers with 13 of them flowing eastward toward the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to Perito Moreno Glacier which is considered one of the more significant tourist attractions within the country.
The ice cap accounts for about 30% of the national park area. The ice cap of Los Glaciares National Park is unique with the glaciers starting at 4,900 feet (1,500 m) above sea level as compared to most other glaciers that begin at elevations from 8,200 feet (2,500 m) and higher.
Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the leading attractions of the national park. Although it is located in one of the most remote parts of the world, Perito Moreno Glacier is accessible from the land and accessible by a short hike. Visitors travel the world to see this exquisite glacial landscape.
Spegazzini Glacier and Upsala Glacier are two significant sized glaciers found within the national park; however, they do require securing a boat tour to visit them. Most people are satisfied with seeing Perito Moreno Glacier, however, these additional glaciers are worth the effort and you are encouraged to explore them as well since you are in this part of the world.
Mount Fitz Roy, locally known as Cerro Chalten, Cerro Fitz Roy, or Monte Fitz Roy, is another stunning attraction found within the national park. The summit reaches a height of 11,171 feet (3,405 m).
Lake Argentino features an area of 566 square miles (1,468 sq km) making it the largest lake in the country. Lake Argentino is located in the southern part of Los Glaciares National Park with the surrounding area serving as one of two regions of the park.
Lake Viedma covers an area of 420 square miles (1,100 sq km) and it is located in the northern part of the park. It along with the surrounding area accounts for the second region of the national park. This lake along with the southern Lake Argentino feeds the Santa Cruz River. Mount Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre are both located in this region of the park.
Los Glaciares National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site displaying an excellent example of Magellanic subpolar forest as well as featuring the Patagonian steppe biodiversity. The arid Patagonian steppe is created from the barrier of the Andes mountains which prevent moisture from the Pacific Ocean reaching the other side of the range.
Cougar, guanaco, nandues, and the South American gray fox call this steppe area home. Ranching is threatening the gray fox placing it on the endangered species list. The Magellanic subpolar forest serves as the home for guindos, huemul deer, lengas, and nires.
Los Glaciers Highlights
Without question, the Perito Moreno Glacier is the highlight of Los Glaciares National Park. People from around the world travel to the majestic Patagonia area to explore the region with Perito Moreno Glacier being one of the highlighted attractions.
The more adventurous look to climb Mount Fitz Roy or Cerro Torre. These are targeted mountains for climbers who venture into Patagonia.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier is a site that leaves most people standing in bewilderment at this amazing facet of nature. The glacier extends a distance of 19 miles back towards its ice cap source. It has a width of about 3 miles (5 km) and is about 560 feet (170 m) deep.
Perito Moreno Glacier is massive covering an area of 97 square miles (250 sq km). The ice field that feeds the glacier is the world's third-largest freshwater reserve. The glacier was named after the famed explorer and Argentinean defender Francisco Moreno.
Mount Fitz Roy
Mount Fitz Roy rests on the border between Argentina and Chile as part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field. It is an incredibly jagged and rugged mountain creating an astoundingly picturesque mountain. Reaching the summit does require a technical climb, but it is an ascent that is pursued by mountaineers from around the world.
The majority of tourists look for ways to capture views and images of this stunning mountain It is beautiful any time of the year, but the late spring or summer months are when most people travel to see it.
Trails in Los Glaciers National Park
There are several trails that serve the park allowing visitors to experience the highlights and splendors of the nature found here in Argentina. The trails range from easy to difficult and even technical.
Perito Moreno Glacier Trail: This is an easy 2.9-mile (4.7 km) point-to-point trail that meanders through forests out to a lookout point providing a panoramic view of the glacier. This is absolutely the most popular trail in the park and the pinnacle attraction in the park. The glacier is world-renowned.
Tower Lake Trail: This is an 11.1-mile (17.9 km) hike that travels point-to-point taking about 5.5 hours. The glacial lake sets at the foot of the mountain which provides a remarkable backdrop.
Lake of the Threes Trail: This is a 12.9-mile (20.6 km) with an elevation change of 3,326 feet (1,013.8 m). The train, altitude, and elevation change generate a difficult rating for this challenging adventure that is worth every bit of effort with stunning views of lakes and Mount Fitz Roy.
Perito Moreno Glacier Big Ice Trail: This is a challenging 6-mile (9.6 km) trail out and back with an elevation gain of 1,010 feet (307.8 m). The hike is exploring the ice crevices of the glacier and requires the use of crampons. The trail is rated difficult but it is a breathtaking adventure.
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Los Glaciares Highlights
- Perito Moreno Glacier
- Mount Fitz Roy
- Cerro Torre
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- Britannica, Los Glaciares National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Los-Glaciares-National-Park, retrieved September 2019.
- Los Glaciares, Los Glaciares National Park, https://www.losglaciares.com/en/parque/, retrieved September 2019.
- New World Encyclopedia, Los Glaciares National Park, https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Los_Glaciares_National_Park, retrieved September 2019.
- Patagonia-Argentina, The Glaciers National Park, https://www.patagonia-argentina.com/en/the-glaciers-national-park/, retrieved September 2019.
- UNESCO, Los Glaciares National Park, https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/145/, retrieved September 2019.