The Rio Lobos Canyon is a spectacular 25 km long gorge carved out through a limestone plateau and often cited as one of the prettiest landscapes in Spain. It is a 10,000 hectare Natural Park, a Site of Community Interest and a Special Conservation Area for Birds. It is well known for its walking trails, the esoterical Templar chapel of Saint Bartholomew, its caves, bats, and its large resident colony of griffon vultures.
The Rio Lobos Canyon lies at the eastern end of Castile and Leon region, one third in the province of Burgos and two thirds in the province of Soria. It is two hours north of Madrid, three hours south of Bilbao, and roughly halfway between Santander and Valencia.
The park can be accessed from several points, but the most spectacular landscapes and the main attractions lie at the bottom end of the canyon, close to the village of Ucero in Soria, on the SO-920 road between San Leonardo de Yagüe and El Burgo de Osma.
Access to the park is completely free, there are no fences and no gates. The only restrictions on access apply to groups of more than 20 persons. A parking charge of 4€ per vehicle is made at weekends and peak times in the car parks located inside the canyon. The only other restriction is natural, when heavy rains in winter-spring may make parts of the canyon inaccessible.
The "Casa del Parque", just outside the village of Ucero, was fully refurbished in 2012 and offers an interesting interactive exhibition on the ecosystems and species found in the park. It also has a small bookshop, leaflets (basically only in Spanish) and helpful staff who can be consulted in case of any doubt. There is a charge of 1€/person to visit the exhibition.
The Rio Lobos Canyon can be visited throughout the year, each season has its pros and cons, but autumn is probably the busiest time of year in the park as Spanish city-dwellers tend to see rural tourism as an autumnal activity. Personally we think the late-spring months of May and June are absolutely the best time for a visit. There is crystal-clear water in the streams, green grass on the hills and flowers at the wayside. The longest days of the year make for great days out without the intense heat of the summer.
There are plenty of signposted walks throughout the park, so lots of choice to pick the right distance for you, from a short stroll to see the famous Templar chapel of Saint Bartholomew to serious trails that run the length of the park. Most of the walks on offer are easy, the only real complications being the stepping stones at river crossings and occasional rough and rocky areas. Flooding may leave some footpaths wet and muddy. The terrain is mostly flat, following the course of the river, though some routes may climb up steep hillsides from the canyon floor to the top of the plateau.
You can fill you water bottle at fountains in all the car parks inside the canyon, but there are no sources of drinking water along the walking trails. At the bottom end of the canyon there is a bar, and another in the adjacent campsite. You may find restaurants or bars in the nearby villages of Ucero, Casarejos, San Leonardo, Hontoria del Pinar and Santa María de las Hoyas but shops and bakeries only in the larger villages or nearby towns such as San Leonardo and El Burgo de Osma.
Opening times of the chapel of St Bartholomew are set by the Diocese of Osma, and in 2021 the chapel is likely to be open at similar times to previous years, something like the following:
An admission fee of 1€/person is charged.
We recommend avoiding very busy times like Easter, October bank holiday, mid August and certain other weekends and public holidays, or at least come early in the morning to beat the crowds. Most visitors tend to flock to the chapel area, but don't forget there are 10,000 hectares of park and most areas are nearly always quiet with few visitors.
Remember that we are about 1,000 metres above sea level, and the sun burns brightly here. Don't forget your solar protection cream and a hat to shade your head.
On windless days the hot sunshine and humidity on the canyon floor can make for a heavy atmosphere, so be sure to carry a good supply of drinking water and revitalising snacks with you.
The walking trails are not difficult but the ground can be uneven underfoot, so a stout pair of walking boots is always recommendable in order to avoid the risk of a twisted ankle.
When calculating how long your walking route will take you, don't forget to leave plenty of time for photo taking and vulture watching.
And have fun!!!
Tourism Guide for your first visit to the Canyon
Description, Photos, Maps, Field Guides and Suggestions
Birds, Wildlife, Ecosystems and the Presence of Man