Ten Top National Parks Around the Globe

by , SmarterTravel Staff - July 9, 2007 See all photo galleries
View of Ordesa National park, Spain


You'd think it would be hard to lose a 3,355-meter massif, but someone named the focal peak of Spain's Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park the "lost mountain." Located in the central Pyrenees just south of the French border, this park was created to protect the ibex, a type of wild goat, but is better known as a popular spot for adventure activities. Hikers have a choice of easy or difficult routes, with many trailheads located in the gateway town of Torla. Climbers head to the technical Petit Vignemale and Aqisclo Valley, while water buffs can canoe or raft down the Ara and Cinca Rivers. Canyoning, potholing, and randonee skiing (a mix of backcountry cross-country and downhill Alpine skiing) offer a greater challenge.

Experienced hikers can go it alone with the help of Alto Aragón, a walking holiday company. You provide $709 per person and map-reading know-how, and they'll book your accommodations, arrange for breakfasts and dinners, and supply you with maps and route notes. The six-night self-guided tour takes you through valleys, canyons, and clifftops.

View of Ordesa National park, Spain (Photo: Franc Jimenez,

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