Bardenas Reales Travel Guide, Navarre


Bardenas Reales Tourism Guide

The Bardenas Reales is one of only a few deserts in Europe and is definitely the most impressive of them all. There are several unique geological formations and some lovely landscapes. Explore the park by car or get in a little deeper by hiking or riding a bike on one of the many paths.

The Bardenas Reales Natural Park occupies an area of 42,000 hectares (approximately 100,000 acres) and is situated in the southeast corner of Navarre along the border with Aragon.

The park is characterized by its semi-desert landscapes, which are very unusual for the region and in sharp contrast to the lush, green landscapes of northern Navarre. These landscapes are the result of a very special climate made up of hot summers, cold winters and long dry periods interrupted by heavy rain.

There is also a particular wind current that runs through the area, called “cierzo.” The difference of pressure between the Cantabrian and the Mediterranean Seas generates a current of strong wind that flows along with the Ebro River. The “cierzo” wind is responsible for the unique, abrupt landscapes, canyons and plateaus, produced by its erosion on the soil, which mainly consists of clay, chalk and sandstone.

Bardenas Reales Tourism
Castildetierra in the Bardenas Reales
Bardenas Reales Navarre
Small house in the Bardenas Reales

The Bardenas Reales Park is divided in three main zones:

  • The Bardena Blanca (White Bardena) is the central plain of the park and the one that is most desert-like. It is characterized by deep gorges and white ground, due to the large presence of of salt.
  • The Plano (plane, flat) is a small plateau that is almost completely flat. Its soil is different here due to the Aragón River.
  • The Bardena Negra (Black Bardena) is located along the border with Aragón. It is characterized by having plateaus of different altitudes and some streams at the bottom of the cliffs. The name originated from the dark soil located here. The Bardena Negra has two types of vegetation on it: on one side there are Mediterranean forests with oaks and pines and on the other side there are grain fields.
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There are some smaller but interesting zones in the Bardenas such as the domain of Eguaras, or Peñaflor as it is also often referred to as. Separated from the rest of the Bardenas Reales by its elevation, it could be considered an oasis due to the large amounts of vegetation.

There, you will find the ruins of the Peñaflor Castle. This castle is also known as the castle of Blanca de Navarra. Rumor has it that Blanca’s father locked her in the tower of the castle because she didn’t want to marry the prince of Aragón.

Bardenas Reales, Navarre
Bardenas Reales
Flock of sheep in the Bardenas Reales, Navarre
Flock of sheep in the Bardenas Reales

If you are interested in birds of prey, you might also want to visit the areas called “rincón del Bú” or “caídas de la Negra.” Both are known for having plenty of golden eagles, golden and Egyptian vultures, stone curlews and black bellied sandgrouses. In the “caídas de la Negra,” there are also foxes, wild cats, amphibians and reptiles.

One last area of interest in the Bardenas Reales Natural Park cannot be visited. This is because it is a bombing range used by the Spanish Air Force. Here they train and carry out bombings (without explosives inside).

So, don’t be surprised if you see fighter jets soaring above your head. Sometimes, all the acrobatics going on above can make for a nice, free air show.

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Practical Information
The Bardenas Reales can be visited from 8 am until one hour before sunset. The information center and main entrance to the park can be accessed from the road N- 134 just south (approximately 3km) from the town of Arguedas.

This is the best entrance since most of the road is paved and if you are in a car you won’t have to worry about getting stuck.

There are multiple routes for visitors. It is possible to visit the park by car, 4-wheel drive, foot or bike. There are paths for both cars and bikes, and it is possible to walk through all those paths unless it is indicated otherwise. More detailed information about existing routes can be found in the website of the Bardenas Reales.

Hotels in the Bardenas Reales

Hotels in the Bardenas Reales

Get In & Around

Get In & Around

The information center and main entrance to the park can be accessed from the road N- 134 just south from the town of Arguedas (approximately 3km south). This is the best entrance since most of the road is paved and if you are in a car you won’t have to worry about getting stuck.

Arriving to the Bardenas Reales

PLANE – The closest airport is in Pamplona, 100 km away. The airport of San Sebastian / Hondarribia is about 210 km away and the airport of Bilbao 260 km.

CAR – The Bardenas Reales are located east of the road N-134 just north of Tudela. The road NA-125 crosses the park from west to east and continues into the province of Aragón.

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BUS – While there are several companies offering tours by bus of the Bardenas Reales, there isn’t any public bus line stopping in the park.

TRAIN – The closest train station to the Bardenas Reales is located in Tudela, just a couple of kilometers away. From Tudela, it is possible to take a train to Pamplona, Irún, Barcelona, etc.

Other Places of Interest in the Surroundings

In the Surroundings

Map of the Bardenas Reales

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