El Valle y Carrascoy Regional Park
This regional park is situated in the eastern part of the Baetic mountain range within the Segura river basin, and occupies an area of almost 11,000 hectares. The height above sea level ranges from 200 metres to 1,000 metres at the top of the craggy escarpments, presenting diverse geological phenomenons at different levels.
Carrascoy has integrated wildlife corridors across the park, which have become home to a multitude of wildlife, including small mammals, birds and reptiles. Eagles can often be seen soaring on the thermals above the rocky outcrops. The park has a variety of trails and treks that are signposted and graded for the degree of ease or difficulty; as are the rock climbs, so that the easier, less-technical assents can be attempted by older children. Guided treks are available and can be booked at the El Valle visitors centre.
The visitors centre is a good place to start, located next to La Alberca village as you enter the park. El Valle has leaflets, maps and brochures to help you get the most from your visit. The centre also has an informative exhibition of the park’s geography, history and biodiversity, to help you understand its fauna, flora, geology and conservation work.
At the lower levels of the park, where the centre is located, several installations have been added for visitors’ enjoyment, including:
- El Valle Recreational Area
- Wild Fauna Recovery Centre
- Nature School (where you can learn about conservation)
- La Fuensanta Sanctuary (which has a pilgrimage in September)
- Las Navetas and Relojero (viewing points, with stunning 360-degree vistas)
This nature park has been included in the European Natura 2000 network for biodiversity, and has been declared a “Special Protection Bird Sanctuary”, mainly due to the important Eurasian Eagle Owl population that can be found here.
- Where: Fuente Álamo (40 minutes south of Murcia city), entry to the park free
- When: All year round, dawn till dusk
For more information…
Tel. +34 968 22 89 37
Download the printable information leaflet here
Salinas de San Pedro Coastal Park
This coastal park is a wetland and salt marsh of great importance as a nesting and breeding ground for many species of birds, including flamingos.
It is located in the municipalities of San Pedro del Pinatar and San Javier and covers an area of 856 hectares, which includes six kilometres of Mediterranean coast.
The diverse flora and fauna species and traditional activities live in harmony with the environment. Good examples of this are the salt exploitation industry and traditional method of coastal lagoon fishing (the only place in the Mediterranean area where this is still practised). The coastal park has become a protected natural space and an excellent example of sustainable development.
Take a tour of the salt flats at sunrise to enjoy spectacular colours reflected in the salt ponds, followed by a visit to the Las Salinas visitors centre where you can learn more about the natural treasures that this protected natural area holds.
A walk along the marked trails or by bike on designated paths, making stops at the information panels, enables you to discover the fauna, flora and diverse natural environments that exist in the park.
It is almost mandatory to stop at the various viewing points and observe the different waterfowl that inhabit the park. You can also enjoy a spectacular landscape formed by salt mountains, and swim at the park’s natural beaches or in therapeutic mud baths – a healthy experience in a quiet and privileged environment.
The park houses a great variety of different ecosystems: beach, coastal dunes, pine forest, salt marshes, salt ponds and reed beds. The narrow dune strip extends throughout the park, parallel to the Mediterranean Sea. These dunes are semi-fixed by vegetation.
El Pinar de Coterillo is a re-population of Aleppo pines undertaken in 1917 in order to prevent the advance of the dunes, which threatened to invade the salt ponds. Another ecosystem that you will find in the park is the salt marsh: a complex natural system, with steppe vegetation and soil loaded with salts, which also becomes flooded during part of the year. In summer, when water evaporates from the ground, the salts are dragged to the surface, where they are deposited and form the typical white salt crust.
When: open all year, admission free
Where: Between El Mojón and La Manga
For more information…
Tel: +34 968 178 139
Website: Murcia Turistica
Parque Minero (La Unión)
This park is a picturesque area of Sierra Minera where you can learn about the 19th century underground mining industry while travelling on the mine train, through over 4,000 square metre of galleries.
The visit takes approximately two hours, starting at the park’s interpretation centre, where a video helps visitors better understand the history of La Unión. The train will then take you on a tour during which you can view all the attractions related to mining, culminating with a visit to Mina Agrupa Vicenta, the principal mineshaft and the park’s main attraction. After you have visited the mine, you return to the interpretation centre, where you can buy souvenirs of the various places visited.
Sierra de Cartagena-La Unión contains major metallic mineral deposits, mainly lead and zinc. It was already an intensive mining activity in Carthaginian and Roman times. The 19th century mining boom filled Sierra de Cartagena with underground mining, and from 1950 open-pit mining caused a brutal impact on the landscape, until its definitive closure in 1991.
Mining activity has, nevertheless, left a valuable industrial heritage scattered throughout Sierra de Cartagena-La Unión: machine houses, chimneys, furnaces, powder magazines, mineral laundries, tunnels and mining trains, in addition to large excavations that have transformed the landscape, and an underground network of galleries and wells.
Then there is the equally important cultural heritage: flamenco ballads or “cantes” that emerged from the miners’ hard-working conditions, as they worked in the bowels of the mountain range, and remembered annually during the Cante de las Minas international festival.
When: Winter, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am and 12 noon; Summer, Tuesday-Sunday, 10am and 12 noon, and Tuesday-Saturday 6pm
Where: Camino del 33, La Unión, San Javier, Murcia
Tel: +34 968 002 140
Website: Parque Minero de la Union