Los Alerces National Park

The Los Alerces National Park is a national park in Chubut Province, Argentina, some 30 miles from Esquel. It is a park of 2,630 square kilometres along the border with Chile, best known for the alerce (lahuán) trees (Fitzroya cupressoides) from which the park takes its name.

The park was created in 1937 in order to protect the alerce forest, and other typical examples of the flora of the Patagonian Andes. The National Park has the largest alerce forest of Argentina. Alerce is one of the longest-living trees in the world; some in the park are around 3,000 years old, with many of them over 1,000 years. It grows very slowly and belongs to the family Cupressaceae. The principal forest in the park, visited by tourists, is at Puerto Sagrario at the northern end of Lago Menéndez. Arrayán (Luma apiculata) trees can be seen along the Arrayanes river.

In the west of the park, there is high rainfall and Valdivian temperate rain forests below the high Andes mountains. Much of the rest of the park is Patagonian forest similar to the Lanín and Nahuel Huapi National Parks, with coihues and lenga in addition to the alerce.

There is a complex lake system with many rivers. The most important are the Menendez, Rivadavia, Futalaufquen and Krüger lakes, and the Frey river. A hydroelectric dam, providing energy to industry in Puerto Madryn, has created the large artificial Lake Amutui Quimei, which empties into the Futaleufú River which flows on to Chile.

There is good walking and fishing in the park, and boat trips on the lakes. The Torrecillas glacier can be seen from tour boats.

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