November 19 2022

17 National Parks in Chilean Patagonia to visit


The national parks that make up Chilean Patagonia are home to some of the most unique and biologically diverse environments on Earth.

A total of 17 national parks extends across the three regions that make up Chilean Patagonia: Los Lagos, Aysén, and Magallanes. They cover the territory between the city of Puerto Montt in the north to Cape Horn in the extreme south.

They make up the Ruta de Los Parques route, part of Chile's national parks system managed by the forest agency Conaf. Therefore, they are areas protected by the State. 

The Route is crucial to the conservation of local biodiversity and is one of the most important green lungs in the world; its carbon storage per hectare capacity is three times that of the Amazon's, according to a study by the Tompkins Conservation Chile Foundation, based on data provided by the National Geographic Society, says Chilean tourism federation Fedetur.

Some parks have easy access, while others are remote and almost untouched by humans. However, all of them offer a unique travel experience in Chilean Patagonia.

National parks in the Los Lagos region

Alerce Andino

This park defines Chilean Patagonia's northern natural limits and extends along the northern tip of the Carretera Austral highway, the southernmost in the world.

Its main attractions are the soaring alerces tress in the Sargazos and Las Chaicas sectors (​​cousins to the American Redwood); some are over 3,000 years old! 

According to Ruta de Los Parques, its forests are a global icon of endemic fauna, as some species are not found elsewhere.


This park also borders the Carretera Austral and is a must-see for the most adventurous; access is more complicated and features essential services only.

However, it's worth the effort, as it welcomes visitors with its beautiful hidden lagoons and excellent fishing spots.

It is part of the Southern Andes Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve, as vegetation covers 50% of its surface, featuring indigenous species Alerce, Coigüe, and Lenga trees. The rest comprises rocky areas, snow, lakes, lagoons, and snowdrifts.


Located on the west coast of the Grand Island of Chiloé, it stretches for almost 42-thousand hectares, where native Huilliche communities preserve their customs and traditions, one of the many indigenous groups that live in the area. 

Its ecosystem is isolated from the continent, allowing endemic birds and mammals to survive. Its flora includes the Valdivian Laurel-leaved Forest, evergreen forest, and the Valdivian temperate rain forest, with tree species such as Alerce, Coigüe, Mountain Cypress, and Arrayán. 

Wildlife species include the Huemul, Pudú, Darwin's fox, Monito del Monte (a small endemic marsupial), the Comadreja Trompuda (long-nosed shrew opossum), the Southern River otter, the Kodkod, the smallest cat of the Americas, the Chungungo or Sea otter, Toninas (small dolphins), and sea lions, among other

The park's easy access, miradors, and coastal routes make it a wonderful place to visit with the family.


This national park surrounds a volcano of the same name and was created after a land donation by NGO Tompkins Conservation in 2005.

It is difficult to access, and some areas remain unexplored until today, allowing for the conservation of several endangered species like the Pudú deer, the Chiloé fox, the Güiña (Kodkod), and the Huillín (Southern River otter).

Its main attraction is the volcano, which you can watch from the Navimag ferry while sailing the Patagonian Fjords scenic route between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales.

Book your Patagonia by ferry trip here!

Pumalín-Douglas R. Tompkins

Named after its founder, environmental philanthropist Doug Tompkins, it was a private conservation project until 2017, when it was donated to the Chilean government. According to the Tompkins Conservation Foundation, it is larger than Yosemite National Park

In 2007, UNESCO declared the territory part of the Southern Andes Temperate Rainforest Biosphere Reserve. Wildlife includes bats and pumas.

Visitors can visit the Amarillo hot springs, open all year round, surrounded by rivers, mountains, woods, and prairies, ideal for mountain biking. Also, it's possible to kayak along the coast through nearby fjords Quintupeu and Cahuelmo, one of the best kayaking experiences you can find.

National parks in Aysén Region


This national park covers more than 150,000 hectares from the Rio Cisnes (Swan River) to Río Risopatrón.

The park's most famous attraction is the Ventisquero Colgante, or Hanging Glacier, which spans two mountains. This body of ice is so impressive that it can be seen directly from the Carretera Austral. 

On a twisty descent, the glacier appears above the evergreen forest, a view that makes it one of the most photographed glaciers in Patagonia. You can also see the glacier after a 2–3-hour hike from the Portezuelo entrance through the Enchanted Forest trail.

Isla Magdalena

Right across from Queulat is this island that is part of the protected area known as Los Pingüinos Natural Monument and is the habitat of one of the largest Magellan penguin colonies in South America, with more than 60,000 specimens! 

A lighthouse of about 50-meters stands at the center of the island, and it's a key attraction, but it's closed to the public.

The island is located 35 km from Punta Arenas and is only accessed by boats that sail from Punta Arenas city.

Cerro Castillo

It is a place of protection for huemul, puma, guanaco (Lama guanicoe), Patagonian Chingue and the Red Fox, among others. Its vegetation consists of Deciduous Forest, an Evergreen Mountain, and a steppe

The main attractions include the hiking trails to the Cerro Castillo and Cerro Las Cuatro Cumbres peaks. ​The circuits cross different scenarios, from dense forests to large rocks and snow. For example, it is possible to observe rivers, lakes, and glaciers in the northern sector of Lake General Carrera.

Although it is easily accessible from the Carretera Austral and just an hour from the regional capital of Coyhaique, with regular bus and minibus services, it gets only a handful of hikers compared with the Torres del Paine National Park.

Laguna San Rafael

This glacier-studded park is southwest of Coyhaique. It is one of Chile's largest national parks, where the ice from the Northern Patagonian Icefield reaches the sea. 

The characteristic jagged seracs of the park's namesake glacier – the world's lowest-latitude tidewater glacier – can be seen from land or sea. 

Most visitors arrive on catamarans and cruise ships from Puerto Chacabuco to watch it up close and sometimes even enjoy a glass of whiskey with millenary ice!


This reservation consists of more than 304,000 hectares and protects one of the wildest places left on Earth. 

The Chilean government founded it in 2018 after merging the former Lake Jeinimeni National Reserve and the former Lake Cochrane National Reserve. 

It's one of Chile’s most critical ecosystem restoration projects, with the Tompkins Conservation foundation donating part of the land to the Ruta de Los Parques initiative.

It is easily accessible from Coihaique by car and bus, and visitors must buy an entrance fee.

National Parks in Magallanes region

Bernardo O’Higgins

One of the most beautiful reserves in the Southern Cone, it is home to the largest huemul population in South America and features 49 glaciers that are part of Chile's Southern Icefields.

You can get there from Puerto Natales through local tour agencies. The Navimag ferry also passes most of the park's coastline while sailing the Patagonian Fjords scenic route.

Get your ferry ticket here!

Pali Aike

If you're looking for moon-like, secluded, odd scenery, this is your park. Its name means "desolated place" in the indigenous Tehuelche language, which describes the place perfectly.

The park is on the Chilean side of the Pali Aike volcano field, right by the border with Argentina. Volcanic lava covers most of its surface, which makes it the perfect refuge for species like the Guanaco, Gray Fox, Patagonian Chingue, Puma, Armadillo, Red Fox, Flamingo, and Coscoroba Swan.

You can get there by taking day tours from Punta Arenas. Tickets are required.


One of the largest parks in the world and the second largest in Chile, this park encompasses part of the archipelagos found in the Magallanes and Última Esperanza provinces and covers half of Riesco Island.

It is home to the Culpeo fox, the Huemul, Leopard seals, whales, and Southern and Chilean dolphins. Evergreen trees like the Coigüe de Magallanes and the Güaitecas cypress cover its surface.

Natural wonders include the Montañas Fjord and the Sarmiento Range. Visitors must buy tickets to enter.

Torres del Paine

The park is a must-see destination, voted the World's Eighth Natural Wonder and a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Its characteristic "blue peaks" welcome all visitors worldwide who want to hike or trek the park's natural scenery, including mountains, valleys, rivers (such as the Paine River), lakes (especially the turquoise lakes Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskjöld, and Sarmiento), and glaciers (Grey, Pingo, Tyndall, and Geikie, all part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field).

You can choose between different hiking routes, the most famous being the "O" and "W" circuits; the first takes eight days of hiking, and the second, between 4 and 5.

However, if you prefer a quieter experience, its Blue Lagoon is one of the most romantic spots in Patagonia and a locals' favorite

In their natural habitat, you can see guanacos, pumas, rheas, and hairy armadillos. 

Alberto de Agostini

Named after Father Alberto De Agostini, the most important explorer of the region, the park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. 

It is considered one of the most pristine ecoregions on the planet, home to 49 species of birds, both terrestrial and marine.

It features extensive peninsulas and strongly mountainous islands covered by ice fields.

Access is difficult, as it can only be reached by sea or air. Tours depart daily from Punta Arenas city.


This remote park is at the center-south of the Grand Island in Tierra del Fuego and adjacent to the Tierra del Fuego Park in Argentina. Its name means "deep bay" and was created after a private land donation by the Tompkins Conservation foundation.

It's ideal for visitors looking for an isolated, extreme adventure as there are no routes but a few marked trails, its forests are thick, and snowy mountains surround it. A key attraction is a path that crosses the Darwin Massif in the Andes Mountain Range.

Due to its remoteness, you must guide yourself with the help of a GPS or a local guide.

Cabo de Hornos

It's a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and the first protected wild area in Chile that includes both land and marine ecosystems.

You can get to Hornos Island by private boat from Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams and take a pedestrian walkway that extends into the island until reaching the highest point, where you'll find the Hornos lighthouse and the southernmost mayor's office in the world.

Its main attraction is the exact spot where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet.

How can you visit these parks?

Check each of the parks' websites for information on how to get there by either land, air, or sea. Also, the Rutas del Parque website tells you how to get to all of them.

You can buy your tickets at Conaf's official booking platform for those parks that require a paid entrance. 

How to choose between them?

It depends on what experience you're looking for! Some parks have amenities that make it easy for children to visit, like Cerro Castillo or Torres del Paine. In contrast, others are more rugged, like Yendagaia and Cabo de Hornos, or remote and off-the-beaten-track like Pali Alike. When planning activities to do in Patagonia, visiting any of these parks will be a wonderful experience!

When is the best time to visit?

Summer (between December to March) is the best time to go. However, the weather in Patagonia can change drastically, so make sure to pack for both rainy and sunny days. 

Visit the world’s greenest lungs!

All 17 parks that make up the Rutas de Los Parques initiative are home to some of the most unique and biologically diverse environments on earth. 

Visiting any of these parks offers a glimpse into the native Patagonian wildlife and an alternative travel experience.

However, visiting these places is not a stroll in the park. It requires planning and, sometimes, booking entry tickets in advance. Check for updates about the parks’ opening hours and entry requirements before traveling.

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