BOSQUES PETRIFICADOS DE JARAMILLO NATIONAL PARK
The weather is cold, dry and windy. Average temperatures are 19° C in summer (with highs that reach 40° C) and 7° C in winter (with lows of -15° C). Precipitations are scarce but strong and generally fall as snow. The yearly average does not surpass 200 mm. Strong winds, mostly from the west, reach an average of 70 km/h, with gusts that can have 140 km/h. This creates dust clouds over the sandy and clayey areas. The ideal seasons to visit the Park are spring and summer.
- Jaramillo Petrified Forests National Park does not have water services or tourist infrastructure (there are only public restrooms). The visitor must bring drinking water, food and gas, because the closest city is 220 km to the north.
- In Caleta Olivia there are three hotels, a camping area, restaurants, supermarkets and filling stations.
- Puerto Deseado, located 252 km to the west, has similar services than Caleta Olivia.
- Estancia La Paloma (20 km before the natural monument on Provincial Route 48) has a camping area with restrooms and camp-fires.
- Fitz Roy (a town located 240 km away on National Route 3) has lodging, restaurants and filling stations.
From the south, it is Tres Cerros, 90 km away on National Route 3.
Places to Visit and Activities
- Palentheologic walkway (next to the park ranger’s office).
- Madre e Hija Mountain (a few kilometers away, by Provincial Route 49)
- Caleta Olivia (oil development city).
- Puerto Deseado (natural reservations Río Deseado, Cabo Blanco, Isla Pingüino and Bahía Laura).
- Puerto San Julián (departures by boat to visit the groups of commerson’s dolphins and sea birds; Estancia La María, which has an exceptional collection of cave paintings).
Petrified Forests Office: Ameghino S/N° Jaramillo, Deseado, Santa Cruz Province.
Entrance is free of cost.
High season is from November to April.
Low season is from May to October.
From Comodoro Rivadavia —coming from the north— or from Puerto San Julián —coming from the south—, trough National Route 3 and Provincial Route 49 (320 and 230 km, respectively); routs join on km 2074 of National Route 3.
Other Means of Transport
Comodoro Rivadavia City (Chubut Province) has daily flights from Buenos Aires. There, it is possible to rent a car for visiting the natural monument. In Caleta Olivia (Santa Cruz Province), 220 km away from the Park, there are tourism agencies that provide tours to the Park.
Located in Jaramillo, Santa Cruz Province, the Jaramillo Petrified Forests National Park covers an area of 63 546 hectares, plus 15 000 hectares that belong to the Petrified Forests Natural Monument, for a total of 78 543 hectares.
This Monument was created in 1954 in order to incorporate a flora bank of 10 000 hectares to the national protected areas system. Later, in 1984, after the area was acknowledged by national and international specialists, 5 000 extra hectares were added. Then, the National Parks Administration also included the lands of neighboring estancias (large rural lands with similarities with the American term ranch), reaching a total of 61 245 hectares for the protected area. On December 27 2012, the Law 26 825 was passed, effectively creating the Park.
During the middle-superior Jurassic period, 150 million years ago, this area was mostly humid. For that reason, very big trees would grow, especially pehuén (Araucaria arauncana). Later, due to volcanic eruptions, the territory was buried by ashes and lava, which petrified the forest entirely.
The relief of the area is undulated, not high and made of ashy material. Plateaus in the surface of the park are nothing but abundant remains of past volcanic activity.
To the west-southwest part, the Madre e Hija mountain stands out, which is also known as Horqueta and is 400 meters high. Its highest peak is shaped as a hillock.
There are not water courses, lagoons or small permanent water deposits in the area. Instead, because of the strong rainfall, temporary courses are formed. This happens because of the impermeability of the soil. Once the water evaporates, there are short furrows left. In the low areas there is a temporary and shallow lagoon with the same characteristics.
The flora of the region tends to adapt easily to hard environmental conditions. A large and exuberant forest of ancient pehuenes has developed here. But there are also pines, ferns, sago palms and bennettitales (similar to palms). In addition, there are bushes such as American pepper, duraznillo (Colliguaja integerrima), South American locust and Magellan Barberry. Generally, there are grasses, bushes of short brunches and small leaves, and coriaceas which, together, do not grow more than one and a half meters.
Other representative species of the region are bird of paradise shrub, mata zampa and cat’s claw, which has a small yellow flower. Mata negra, which accumulates dune sand around it, can also be found in the area, as well as mata de laguna, thyme, emerald ripple peperomia, pampas grass, some species of algae, and peat.
About 150 million years ago, the Andes Mountain Range did not exist and the landscape was mostly oceanic. There are still remains of trees with three-meter diameter trunks from those times.
The fauna of the Park is not abundant, but it is well conserved. For this reason, although it is scarce, it is easy to find by sight. It is possible to see small groups of guanacos, grey foxes, rufous-collared sparrows, birds and different types of lizards, which have very attractive colors.
Before arriving to the Park, different species can also be seen, such as pichi and rhea, a very large bird of brownish-grey plumage that is polygamous. Other usual species are the culpeo and the Patagonian cavy.