Puyehue National Park is located in the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions of southern Chile. The park boasts 220,000 acres of natural thermal springs, volcanoes and evergreen forests. It is Chile’s most popular national park, with approximately 400,000 visitors each year.
Puyehue National Park
Puyehue National Park is located in the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions of Chile, formerly referred to as the 10th region. The park lies in the Osorno Province, town of Puyehue.
Puyehue National Park boasts 89,000 ha (220,000 acres) of natural thermal springs, volcanoes, and evergreen forests and is located in the southern part of the Andes mountain range.
The National Park forms part of the Bosques Templados Lluviosos de los Andes Australes Biosphere Reserve. It is dominated by the Puyehue volcano, Cordón Caulle and Antillan Group (a volcanic group of small cones, craters and stratovolcanoes).
Puyehue National Park is Chile’s most popular national park, with approximately 400,000 visitors each year. The park includes a hotel with a thermal complex, a lodging house, cabins and campsites.
The park is divided into three main areas:
The Aguas Calientes area features natural thermal baths and hiking trails.
The Anticura area features the Puyehue volcano, the El Puma lookout point, the Cordón Caulle and hot springs, a volcanic area, and a strawberry field, called the Pampa de Frutilla, the Salto de la Princesa, a waterfall of an inlet of the Golgol river, and an 800-year-old forest of coigüe trees, as well as recreational trails.
The Antillanca area features Raihuén Crater and Mirador Hill, the Las Gaviotas River (Río Las Gaviotas) as well as the Rupanco Lake (Lago Rupanco). There is also skiing at the Antillanca ski center, on the slopes of the Casablanca volcano.
The Golgol River and the Las Gaviotas River are the two main waterways in the park. The Chanleufú River also flows through the park.
Two tributaries of the Golgol include Anticura and Pajaritos, which both flow into Lake Puyehue, which is outside the park. Five lakes inside the park include Constancia, Gris, Paraíso, Lake Berlin, and part of the Rupanco Lake.
Puyehue National Park is rainy almost all year long, although the rainiest months are between March and September. During the winter and spring there is snow on the ground. The average annual temperature is 8°C (46°F), rising in the summer months to between 10° and 18°C (50° and 64°F). The average annual rainfall is 450 mm (17 in.).
Temperate evergreen forests occur at lower elevations. Species of trees include coigüe (Nothofagus dombeyi) and the common ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia), olivillo (Aextoxicon punctatum) and tineo (Weinmannia trichosperma). The underbrush has abundant bushes, ferns, moss and lichens, giving it great forest richness.
At higher altitude there are coigüe woods with tepa (Laureliopsis philippiana) and mañío (Saxegothaea conspicua), which later became the dominant species. Pure stands of Nothofagus betuloides and Nothofagus pumilio are found just below the tree line.
Forests of coigües de Magallanes (Nothofagus betuloides), with dense underbrush (Nothofagus pumilio), a species of deciduous leaves that become reddish during Autumn. Communities of marshes called “mallines” can be observed, covered with thick moss.
Other tree species found in the park include (Nothofagus antarctica), a species of law brushwood, and cypress of Guaitecas (Pilgerodendron uviferum).
Mammals in the National Park include the puma, gray fox (pseudalopex griseus), the quique (galictis cuja) or ferret, the coypu (Myocastor coypus), the güiña (Felis guigna) or wild cat and the chingue (Conepatus chinga), skunks and vizcachas.
Puyehue National Park is also a bird watching destination with sightings of the torrent duck (pato correntino), the Magellanic woodpecker (carpintero negro), the Chilean pigeon (torcaza), the hued-hued (huet-huet), the Andean condor, the great grebe (huala), the house wren (chercán) and the buff-necked ibis (bandurria).