LAGO PUELO NATIONAL PARK
Though originally annexed to Los Alerces NP in 1937, this park was given its own status as such in 1971. It covers an area of 23,700 ha and is found in the extreme NW corner of the province of Chubut, against the border with Chile.
The southern Andes were shaped by glacial action; lakes of such origin lie in the bottoms of most of the valleys there. Lago Puelo is no exception; it drains along the Puelo River to the Pacific.
Because the valley runs westwards into Chile it has a particular microclimate, being but 200m above sea level, which makes it unique among the south Andean parks. In it grow species, which are from the western slopes in Chile, peculiar to the cool Valdivian rainforests, and in Argentina are only found here. When added to the more dominant species found in the woods of the Patagonian Andes this makes for a particularly interesting aggregation of species. The briar rose, an invasive exotic species, has established itself in various localities within the park.
Several species of fauna are found in the park such as the pudu - the world's smallest deer - and the huemul or Andean deer, which here has an important population above the tree line. Here too are pumas, the "red" fox and grissons. The bird species include great grebe, flying steamer-duck, black-faced ibis, Chilean flicker and the black-necked swan.
The waters of the park are home to some surviving native species of fish as well as the introduced trout.
In the southern reaches of the park in the area of the Turbio river, are several sites where one can find rock paintings consisting of geometrical designs executed in red on erratic boulders left by the ice-sheets or on rock-faces. These are all along the valley and no distance from the river. The figures, concentric circles, lines, zigzags, are characteristic of the style of the region of NW Patagonia as are also found at El Bolson, El Maiten and Cholila.
How to get there
From Bariloche in the north one heads along route 258 for 120 km to El Bolson. From this locality a lesser road leads to the park arriving at the north shore of Puelo lake, within the park.
Of interest to the visitor
In El Bolson, the town some 19 km from the park, all levels of services and lodging can be had. At the reception area on the north shore of the lake there are two camping areas, one organized, the other free. Here too are offered excursions on the lake and there are horses for hire.
A bathing area is located no distance from the reception area, known as "La Playita". The waters are warmer here and gentle shelving makes it shallow and safe.
From here also a series of trails lead to places of interest:
Lago Puelo National Park
- Los Hitos trail. Some 9 hours long and with a little difficulty, this trail parallels the north shore as far as the Border Guards' station where one may pitch a tent to overnight.
- Trail to Mt. Currumahuida, a seven hour hike there and back, no overnight.
- Trail to Rio Turbio along the slopes of Cerro Derrumbe; starting from El Desemboque, seven hours out. One may overnight and cook on a fire at the ranger station at the end of the trail.
- Trail to Lago Huemul (outside the park). Six hours there and back - no camping and no fires.
- Trail to Cerro Plataforma - a three-hour hike from the ranger station at Río Turbio.
- Trail to Mirador del Lago, a lookout over the lake; 800m to a point 150m above the lake.
Superintendent: Reynaldo Soria
Address: C. C. N° 165
(9211) Lago Puelo, Chubut.
Telephone: (054) 02944-499232
Fax: (054) 02944-499064