Volcán Llaima, which has shown constant, but not dangerous levels of activity since 2002, is the brooding centerpiece of Parque Nacional Conguillío. One of Chile's most active volcanoes, the 3,125-meter (10,200-foot) monster has created the moonscape of hardened laval flow that characterizes the park's southern portion. In the 610-square-km (235-square-mile) northern sector, there are thousands of umbrella-like araucaria pines, also known as monkey puzzle trees. The Sierra Nevada Trail is the most popular for short hikes. The three-hour trek begins at park headquarters on Laguna Conguillío and continues northeast to Laguna Captrén. Heavy snow can cut off the area in winter, so November to March is the best time to visit the park's eastern sector. Conguillío's western sector, Los Paraguas, comes into its own in winter because of a small ski center.
The main entrance to the park is in the Melipeuco sector, which is reached from Temuco via a paved road that passes through the towns of Cunco and Melipeuco before becoming a gravel road over its final section. In Melipeuco, a private company, Sendas Conguillio, administers excellent cabins and camping facilities.
Parque Nacional Conguillo, Melipeuco, 4900000, Chile