Nature in Castilla y León
The diversity of natural spaces to be found in Castilla y León single it out as one of the most complete regions of nature in the whole of Western Europe.
Castilla y León forms part of a policy of protection that started worldwide in 1872, when the United States declared the first ever National Park in Yellowstone. Spain joined this initiative and established the first protection measures for national parks in 1918.
In 1991, the Junta de Castilla y León set up the legal framework needed for the protection and regulation of these spaces of outstanding natural importance. Today, Castilla y León contains 40 Natural Parks managed within the programme "Parques Naturales de Castilla y León", under the umbrella of the "Red de Espacios Naturales" ("Natural Spaces Network"). In this extraordinary mosaic of environmental diversity and quality, the mountains, plains and river valleys provide home to a wide range of ecosystems of fauna and flora and, above all, an environment where human population centres can continue to coexist within the Natural Spaces.
In this way, Nature itself has become an outstanding tourist attraction, contributing to the continuous regeneration of a varied natural museum, full of ecosystems, leafy valleys, indigenous flora and fauna and amazingly beautiful landscapes and sites.
The rigorous environmental protection of these natural parks enables visitors and locals to coexist with the natural environment.
In Castilla y León, some of the most popular mountain areas amongst nature lovers, hikers and environmentalists include the Picos de Europa, Sierra de Gredos, Monte Santiago, the mountains of the Sierra de La Demanda, the mountains of Urbión or the Sierra de Ancares, among others. Other spots of uncommon beauty can be found in the picturesque lakes, leafy mountain ranges and the ravines and canyons, such as Los Arribes del Duero, Las Hoces del Duratón, El Cañón de Río Lobos, and La Yecla, formed where river waters have become trapped by riverbed erosion. For this reason, the region of Castilla y León is an obligatory destination for any visitor to Western Europe who wishes to enjoy a living natural landscape.