Guide To Patagonia National Park In Chile

Ultimate Guide To Visiting Patagonia National Park in Chile

Along the scenic Carretera Austral Highway lies Patagonia National Park, one of the newest National Parks in Chile. Patagonia National Park offers scenic trails and epic views without the price tags and crowds that some of the more popular parks experience in this region.

Beautiful and remote with versatile treks that lead through rugged mountains passing alpine lakes and wild guanacos along its path, Patagonia National Park is easy to fall in love with and hard to leave.  

However, because Patagonia National Park is so new, there are a few things you should know and keep in mind before venturing into this area.

Here’s my detailed guide to visiting Patagonia National Park covering how to get there, top hikes to do, where to stay, and more!

Table Of Contents:

About Patagonia National Park

Patagonia National Park was created by Douglas Tompkins, the adventure-loving founder of The Northface and Espirit clothing companies. Alongside his wife Kristine, Douglas led conservation and park projects in Chile for many years with the main goal of creating more National Parks and protected areas.

During our month-long road trip along the Carretera Austral Highway, we spent considerable time exploring Pumalin National Park, another wonderful park created by Douglas and Kristine Tompkins. We were so impressed by Pumalin Park that when we heard about Patagonia National Park, we just had to venture into this park as well!

When we made our way into Parque Patagonia, we could sense how much this place meant to Doug and Kristine. They lived here, grew old here, and spent their lives devoted to creating these amazing places that now we get to enjoy.

Patagonia National Park in Chile

Where To Start Your Visit

For all newcomers, the best place to start your visit is at the Centro de visitantes del Parque Nacional Patagonia (visitor center) about a 30-minute drive into the park. This is the main area of the Patagonia National Park where all new visitors can get information on the best trails, stop by the park’s interactive museum, and pick up a few souvenirs.

The staff at the visitor center was very knowledgeable and gave us recommendations for trails to check out in the area. The visitor center staff also spoke English which was very helpful.

El Rincon Gaucho restaurant & visitor center.

Right across from the visitor center, there is a nice restaurant and bar that is open for lunch and dinner. The dining area is based on reservations but an hour of notice was enough for us to enjoy a lovely meal there. Both of our plates were delicious and all the veggies used were grown in the park’s organic garden.

The visitor center also has an exhibition showcasing Douglas Tompkins’s conservation efforts in Chile. He hoped to create a place where visitors could learn about the wildlife in this region and the challenges nature faces in our current world.

Highway X-83 that leads through Patagonia Park.

How To Get Around Patagonia National Park

Most of the trails at Patagonia National Park are pretty spread out and the only way to get around is by car.

The park has one main road – the scenic Highway X-83 that leads through the park up to Argentina’s border on the east.

This park does not offer public transportation which can be challenging for backpackers. Along our Carretera Austral Highway road trip we met a lot of backpackers who told us that they would have loved to explore this park, but catching a ride there was an impossible task.

Because the park is quite remote and difficult to access, only a few people venture into this region – mostly those who have a personal vehicle, a rental car, or a lot of willpower.

Best Trails At Patagonia National Park

Patagonia National Park is relatively new and many of the trails at this park are still being created. During our visit, we hiked 3 trails and loved how untouched and remote this region feels.

During our visit, all of the trails were free to hike. After spending anywhere from $15 to $30 for some of the more popular treks in southern Chile, it was nice being able to enjoy nature without the steep cost that often comes with it.

We arrived at Patagonia National Park in March which falls towards the end of the busy travel season in Chile. Most of the vacationing families and traveling university students had already left this area and we barely saw anyone else hiking at the park.

A beautiful trail at Patagonia National Park.

Here are a few of our favorite trails that we hiked at Patagonia National Park:

Douglas Tompkins Mirador

Douglas Tompkins Mirador Trek Patagonia National Park Chile
Douglas Tompkins Mirador hike

If you’re looking for a quick yet epic trail to do at Patagonia National Park, you’ll love the Douglas Tompkins Lookout hike.

This was my favorite hike that we did because the views from the overlook are just breathtaking!

The Douglas Tompkins Overlook is located on the east side of the park towards the Argentina border. We used a combination of iOverlander and apps to find the right turn-off from Highway X-83 and the trail starting point. You can also follow the Mirador Douglas Tompkins via Alto Valle Campground route from the AllTrails hiking app.

If you have a 4×4, you can drive to the designated parking lot, and from there hike about 5-10 minutes to the overlook.

During our Pan American Highway road trip we were traveling in our self-converted Promaster van that’s been pretty good to us, but unfortunately, some roads are just a no-go. This was one of them.

We made it about halfway up to the Douglas Tompkins Mirador before we had to pull over and park our van in a designated lot. From there we hiked 2 miles up to the viewpoint.

The hike itself was not very exciting and followed a steep road, but the views at the Douglas Mirador overlook are worth the effort!

The viewpoint overlooks Cochrane Lake and a few islands like Isla Victor in the distance. There is also a small enclosed area where you can enjoy a picnic.

Sendero Lagunas Altas

Lagunas Altas Hike

We knew we were signing up for a challenge when we decided to hike the Sendero Lagunas Altas trail, but challenges often come with incredible rewards. The Lagunas Altas Circuit offers jaw-dropping views of the Patagonia National Park and Chacabuco Valley from the summit of a mountain.

At 14 miles in length, Sendero Lagunas Altas is one of the longest day hikes that we’ve done in South America.

Surprisingly, this half-marathon-long hike is also one of the most popular day hikes at Patagonia National Park. I account this to the ease of its location – the trail starts and ends at the Camping Los West Winds (West Wind campsite) making it super convenient for park visitors.

If you have the time (and energy) to spare, the Sendero Lagunas Altas trek is a must! The first 4 miles feel like a stairmaster on steroids climbing straight up to the top of a mountain. From there, the trail flattens out and follows a relatively flat path passing beautiful alpine lakes along its way.

What mesmerized me the most was the diversity of the landscapes that we saw on this trail. One section of the Lagunas Altas trek reminded me of the scenery from our trip through Iceland passing black jagged mountain peaks covered in moss.

Patagonia National Park in Chile

We also passed a few pristine alpine lakes reflecting incredible blue and green tones in the sunlight. I could see why visitors push themselves to do this challenging 14-mile trek just to get a glimpse of Parque Patagonia’s beautiful landscapes.

The official Laguna Altas hiking time listed at the visitor center is 6-10 hours. We completed this trail in 6.5 hours including taking lots of photos and stopping for a quick lunch at the top.

Sendero Furioso

Rio Chacabuco

The Furioso Trail is a 14-mile hike in the northern part of the Patagonia National Park. After driving along the scenic highway that travels through the park, we went to hike a section of the Furioso Trail by Rio Chacabuco.

We followed a marker on the iOverlander app for ‘Rio Chacabuco, Parque Patagonia’ and parked our van at a designated parking lot near the river. We didn’t see an official trail entrance point but it seemed that structures have been laid out to create one in the future. This trail is so new and so little traveled that it’s not even marked on – our go-to hiking app that typically lists even the smallest of trails.

Since there wasn’t an obvious path that we spotted, we hiked next to the river until we reached a beautiful suspension bridge. We crossed the bridge and continued along on a tiny foot track passing some old farming areas.

Soon after the trail connected with a road and kept going for a very long time. We hiked along this main road until the sun started setting and made our way back to our car.

Where To Stay At Patagonia National Park

Here are the best camping and lodging options available at Patagonia National Park.

Camping Los West Winds

Westwind campsite

Most people who come to explore Patagonia National Park stay at the Camping Los West Winds near the visitor center.

Camping at the Westwind site costs 8000 Chilean Pesos ($12) per person per night. The Westwind campsite comes with a few enclosed picnic areas along with nice restrooms complete with running water and solar showers.

For the majority of park visitors, the Westwind campsite becomes the home base where people come to set up their tents and drop off their backpacks before venturing into different sections of the park.

Lodge at Valle Chacabuco

Lodge At Valle Chacabuco

In addition to the campsites, Parque Patagonia has a beautiful upscale lodge inside the park.

We stumbled upon the Lodge at Valle Chacabuco after wandering around the visitor center area. Although we did not stay here, we did walk inside the lodge to check it out.

The first thing we noticed was a luxurious common room with giant windows overlooking a valley full of guanacos roaming in the distance. The common area was furnished with plush couches and a fireplace feeling very cozy and inviting.

The Lodge At Valle Chacabuco offers 6 rooms and is only open from October through the end of April.

Wild guanacos at Patagonia National Park.

Patagonia National Park Rules

Here are a few park rules to keep in mind while visiting Patagonia National Park in Chile:

  • Please keep a respectful distance from the wild guanacos. Although there are lots of guanacos that hang around the visitor center, most of the guanacos at Patagonia National Park are scared of people and cars. If you see any, please don’t chase after them as they will be pretty terrified and run away. We saw some guys hovering over a group of guanacos with a drone and although we are drone owners ourselves, we don’t advise using them around wild animals since they can get easily spooked. When shooting wildlife, we use our zoom camera lens to get any close-up shots of the animals.
  • The park does not allow dogs. This region has a few ongoing conservation programs trying to rehabilitate endangered animals like pumas and huemul deer back into the wild. Unfortunately, our sweet little pups can carry diseases that the wild animals are not used to and can potentially harm them.
  • Fires at Parque Patagonia are not allowed. This region is pretty dry and very prone to wildfires. Even a small spark can result in an uncontrollable fire so please keep this in mind and do not make any fires in the wild.
Scenic views along the main highway at Patagonia National Park.

Other Visitor Tips

Here are a few helpful tips to make your time at Parque Patagonia more enjoyable:

  • This region is super windy and rainy so make sure to dress accordingly. It rained, hailed, and even snowed a bit on every hike that we did. Waterproof hiking boots, a rain jacket, and warm clothing are a must.
  • The park has a nice restaurant and bar next to the visitor center that is open for lunch and dinner. But besides the restaurant, there are no markets or other places to get food within this park so make sure to stock up on food before heading out there.
  • The park has no cell reception. For the most part, we used Maps.Me and iOverlander offline phone apps to navigate around the park and locate the trails.

I hope this guide has helped you plan your upcoming trip to Patagonia National Park in Chile. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section below!

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This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m the founder of the Fun Life Crisis travel blog and I’ve been traveling full-time for the past 7 years. Here I share my experiences and tips to help 100,000 people a month plan their adventures around the world! Read more about me here.

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2 thoughts on “Guide To Patagonia National Park In Chile”

    1. No, definitely not! We wish we had a cat that was brave enough to hike with but ours is way too timid to bring along on any hikes or walks. She stayed in the van while we did our hikes.

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