The Laguna Blanca National Park and Biosphere Reserve is a typical treeless Patagonian steppe and contains the Laguna Blanca, a saline lake. The area is of particular interest for its birds and was established to protect the black-necked swan.
The Laguna Blanca National Park and Biosphere Reserve is a typical treeless Patagonian steppe with crystalline rocks, including some sedimentary rocks with fossils of the genera Ostrea and Trigonia. It is located in the west of the Argentine province of Neuquén, close to the town of Zapala.
The Laguna Blanca National Park and Biosphere Reserve contains the Laguna Blanca a saline lake in a main depression, at 1,267 m (4,156 ft) above sea level, surrounded by some forest and mountains culminating at over 5,000 m (16,400 ft).
The area is of particular interest for its birds and was, in fact, established to protect the black-necked swan (Cygnus melanocoryphus) which is found here in great abundance. Geese found on the lake include the upland goose (Chloephaga picta), shovelor (Anas platalea), and blue-billed duck (Oxyura australis). Mammals include the opossum (Marmosa pallidior) and the skunk (Conepatus suffocans enuchus).
Near the lagoon is the Salamanca cave, historically inhabited by humans, where rock paintings, typical of northern Patagonia, can be seen. Other mapuche and prehistoric human artifacts have been found in the park.
The 600 inhabitants living in the transition area (1986) are engaged in traditional practices including livestock raising (sheep, goats, mules and cattle). Training courses aiming on improving rural development, cultural events, research and monitoring also take place. Some 2,500 tourists visit the National Park and Biosphere Reserve each year for ecotourism and environmental education.