Picos de Europa National Park
The first National Park in Spain
The Picos de Europa National Park was the first one to be awarded that designation in Spain. Its history goes back to 1918, when don Pedro Pidal, Marquis of Villaviciosa, promoted the law to create the Montaña de Covadonga National Park, which was named Picos de Europa National Park on 30 May 1995. This natural area was awarded the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation in 2002.
The Picos de Europa Mountains are made up of three important massifs: eastern or Andara massif, central or Urrieles massif, and western or Cornión massif. Its climate is humid and rainy, because it is affected by the sea (which is only 20 kilometres away). It snows in winter but it is not strange to find year-round snowfields. Because of the park's special climatology, there are often fog banks, much feared by mountain climbers. Regarding its orography, it stands out because of its strong relief, where high peaks are followed by deep ravines and canyons. In more than 200 spots the mountains are over 2,000 metres above sea level and there are slopes that are more than 2,300 metres high. The central massif is the most abrupt of the three, with the highest peaks: Torrecerredo (2,646 metres), the highest peak in the range, Naranjo de Bulnes (2,519 metres) and Pico Tesorero (2,570 metres). The eastern massif is the longest one, where high summits, such as Peña Santa de Castilla (2,596 metres) alternate with meadows, hill forests, beech forests, oak groves and heathland. In this massif you'll find the famous Covadonga Lakes. The eastern massif is shorter and lower, and the sharp crags contrast with the green pastureland. There are four rivers flowing through the park, along deep ravines: Deva River in La Hermida gorge; Sella River in Los Beyos gorge; Cares River in the "Garganta Divina" ravine; and Duje River in La India gorges. There are many viewpoints from where we can contemplate its beauty. A good option is to use the Fuentedé cable car which will take you higher than 1,800 metres above sea level.
Type of area
Parque Nacional, Reserva Biosfera
Area: 64.660 Hectares
Location: It is situated between the regions of Asturias, Cantabria and León, in the heart of the Cantabrian Mountains, in northern Spain.
Information for visits: You can reach the park in your private vehicle all year round except at the busiest times of year (summer, Easter week and national bank holiday weekends). You can check the Visitor Centres on this page.
More access information.
Environmental information: In the Picos de Europa National Park you'll find the best Atlantic forests in Spain. There are many oaks, beech, hazel, maple, chestnut, walnut trees… Many animal species live in the valley: wild boar, roe deer, wolves and some bears, many small birds (robins, coal tits and black woodpeckers), and even the emblematic capercaillie. The terrain is especially rugged and it is crossed by four rivers that cut through deep ravines, forming spectacular canyons in the mountain. You will also be able to enjoy the two most famous alpine lakes in Spain: El Enol and La Ercina, also called the Covadonga Lakes.
There are conservation plans for the capercaillie and recovery plans for the bearded vulture in the Picos de Europa National Park.
Cultural information: The Picos de Europa Mountains cover the municipalities of three provinces: Asturias, Cantabria and León. Excellent cultural tourism is available in these places. For example, in the region of Liébana (in the province of Cantabria but adjoining Asturias and León) you can visit the churches of Santa María de Lebeña and Santa María de Piasca, and the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. In Asturias you'll have the chance to visit the Shrine of Covadonga, in Cangas de Onís. Make the most of your visit and taste the Picos de Europa cheeses, which are traditional in the area and have a strong flavour. They are fermented in caves, and one of them is the famous Cabrales.
Authorisations: You will find more information about the permits you need at the following links:
Access to the Lakes and Covadonga
Recorridos por el Parque
Tel.: +34 985848614
Fax.: +34 985848699
Amieva, Cangas de Onís
León (Castilla y León)
Oseja de Sajambre, Posada de Valdeón
In Picos de Europa National Park you can...
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