Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park is located right in the middle along the border of Spain and France. It covers an area of 96 square miles (sq km 156) and is one of the protected areas for the Pyrenees. Pyrenees National Park is the protected area on the France side of the border. The national park was the first established in Spain and one of the earlier parks from around the world.
The Pyrenees is a mountain range that creates a natural border between Spain and its neighboring France. This mountain boundary also creates a natural separation and sets aside the Iberian Peninsula. Summits of the mountain range reach a height of 11,168 feet (3,404 m). Mount Perdido reaches a summit of 11,000 feet (3,355 m) and is the third tallest summit in the Pyrenees.
The Ordesa Valley is one of the most aesthetically pleasing areas of the park and is what part of the name is attributed. The Rio Arazas River traverses through this valley providing beautiful landscapes, views of multiple waterfalls, and opportunities to look up at the majestic massifs surrounding the river valley.
The vegetation of the park varies by altitudes. The lower elevations under 4,921 feet (1,500 m) feature forests comprised of silver fir, Scots pine, downy oak, silver birch, willows, and common ash. Mountain pine becomes the predominant forest at elevations above 6,561 feet (2,000 m).
The flowering plants that occur in the meadows at elevations between 5,577 and 9,942 feet (1,700 and 3,000 m) include bellflower, Pyrenean violet, long-leafed butterwort, and of course the edelweiss which is used as one of the symbols used for the park.
The mountain range features glacial lakes, river ravines, cascading waterfalls, and an abundance of flora and fauna to captivate the senses. It is both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a biosphere reserve.
Wildlife of Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park include brown bear, boar, red squirrel, marmot, red fox, badger, groundhog, weasel, and the goat-antelope known as the chamois. There are 32 different species of mammals.
The skies feature the Egyptian vulture, the bearded vulture, and the majestic golden eagle. The golden eagle is known to carry off prey larger than itself; it is a magnificent predator. There are 171 species of birds with the golden eagle serving as the pinnacle sighting. It would be even more exciting if you witnessed a golden eagle successfully capturing and carrying off its prey.
Ordesa Monte Perdido Highlights:
Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park is a pristine region of the Pyrenees, protected by Spain because of both beauty and natural resources. The best way to experience this amazing wonder of nature is by hiking and trekking through the forests and valleys.
Mount Perdido is part of the Monte Perdido Range in the western Pyrenees. The summit reaches a peak at 11,000 feet (3,355 m). It is a daunting view from the Ordesa Valley down below. Although located in France, the mountain may be accessed easier from the Spain side of the Pyrenees. The name means "lost mountain" and was ascribed to the mountain because it was not visible from the French side.
The Ordesa Valley stretches across 7 miles (11 km) in length. The valley runs east to west. The valley is renowned for views of waterfalls that make their way out of the Pyrenees and into the valley below. Ordesa Valley provides impressive views of Mount Perdido. The valley is home to many of the abundant wildlife species found in the park.
Trails in Ordesa Monte Perdido National Park
The more adventurous can embark on the full day trail along the river gorge. This provides the trekker with views of several waterfalls. The park is filled with varying hiking trails that differ in both length and difficulty making it easy for everyone to explore some aspect of the park.
One of the trail options that should be explored follows along the Ordesa Valley followed by another trail to see the amazing Horsetail falls, locally known as Cola de Caballo.
Senda de los Cazadores Trail: This trail is rated moderate and crosses a distance of 11.4 miles (18.35 km). During the blooming season, the trail provides great views of wildflowers.
Canon de Anisclo Trail: This is a 3.4-mile (5.47 km) trail out and back that meanders along a river and provides great views of riverine landscapes. The trail takes about 2 hours and is rated moderate.
Faja Racon y Faja de las Flores: This is a challenging trail that travels 9.5 miles (15.2 km) atop cliffs that overlook the valley below. It is rated difficult and not for those with fears of heights.
Ordesa y Monte Perdido Highlights
- Mount Perdido
- Ordesa Valley
- The majestic mountains and serene landscapes
- Bear and golden eagle
- Cola de Caballo falls or Horsetail waterfall
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