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Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas (Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Nature Park)

Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas (Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Nature Park) Review

For a break from man-made sights, drink in the scenery or watch for wildlife in this park, a carefully protected patch of mountain wilderness 80 km (50 miles) long and 30 km (19 miles) wide. Deer, wild boar, and mountain goats roam its slopes and hawks, eagles, and vultures soar over the 6,000-foot peaks. Within the park, at Cañada de las Fuentes (Fountains' Ravine), is the source of Andalusia's great river, the Guadalquivir. The road through the park follows the river to the shores of Lago Tranco de Beas. Alpine meadows, pine forests, springs, waterfalls, and gorges make Cazorla a perfect place to hike. Past Lago Tranco and the village of Hornos, a road goes to the Sierra de Segura mountain range, the park's least crowded area. At 3,600 feet, the spectacular village of Segura de la Sierra, on top of the mountain, is crowned by an almost perfect castle with impressive defense walls, a Moorish bath, and a nearly rectangular bullring. There's also a hunting museum, with random attractions such as the interlocked antlers of bucks who clashed in autumn rutting season, became helplessly trapped, and died of starvation. Nearby are a botanical garden and a game reserve.

Early spring is the ideal time to visit; try to avoid the summer and late-spring months, when the park teems with tourists and locals. It's often difficult, though by no means impossible, to find accommodations in fall, especially on weekends during hunting season (between September and February). Between June and October, the park maintains seven well-equipped campgrounds. For information on hiking, camping, canoeing, horseback riding, or guided excursions, contact the Agencia de Medio Ambiente (Tejares Altos, Cazorla 953/711534), or the park visitor center. For hunting or fishing permits, apply to the Jaén office well in advance.

Centro de Interpretación Torre del Vinagre. A short film shown in the park's interpretive center introduces the park's main sights. Displays explain the park's plants and geology, and the staff can advise about camping, fishing, and hiking trails. Ctra. del Tranco, A319 Km 48, Torre del Vinagre, Cazorla, 23470. 953/713017. www.sierrasdecazorlaseguraylasvillas.es. Daily 10–2 and 4–7 (5–8 July and Aug.).

Updated: 06-18-2013

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