Driving The Bardenas Reales – Northern Spain’s Navarre Desert

Driving The Bardenas Reales Natural Park - Northern Spain's Navarre Desert

The Bardenas Reales or desert de Bardenas is located in south-east Navarre in Northern Spain and is a natural desert that occupies near to 100,000 acres of land. The desert is made up of sandstone, clay and chalk which has been eroded over time by wind and rain giving the landscape a unique luna-esque look. As you can imagine vegetation is scarce but this allows the unique patterns of the stunning landscape to show through.

We drove the Bardenas Reales natural park in our 7.5m motorhome without any trouble and is fully accessible for cars or campers. The Bardenas Reales is also accessible by foot or bike with many routes and trails outlined on maps.me. Below is the map of the route we took on a looped drive taking in 43 km of the natural park. Driving the Bardenas Reales with a few stops took us around 3 hours so depending on how much you would like to stop or explore you could be there a little longer.

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Desert de Bardenas – Driving Through

There are a couple of entrances leading into the Bardenas Reales National Park, and after staying at the Aire de Bardenas or Area de Auto Caravanas in Arguedas we took the man road in ‘Calle Bardenas’ leading out of Arguedas all the way into the park.

As the scenery opened up we had an army bomber flew right above the van which is not uncommon. Upon later research, there is an army base located within the Bardenas Reales which many drills and exercises are regularly practiced there. So don’t be alarmed if there are some aerial drills going on whilst you are visiting. The more dangerous exercises are practiced when the park is shut.

There are so many opportunities when driving Bardenas Reales natural park to just jump out and take in the gorgeous panoramic views. One viewpoint located on our map above (point C) is a few km’s drive inside the park from Arguedas and offers a large map with all the names of landmarks around the park with a spectacular view.

Driving The Bardenas Reales – Game Of Thrones

The Natural Park has been amongst many Game of Thrones filming locations in Northern Spain and driving through the Bardenas Reales you can see why they picked the location. See if you recognise or spot any of the landmarks around the natural park form the series, especially in the earlier Dothraki Sea and desert scenes.

Points Of Interest

Being such a vast open space the Bardenas Reales is perfect for just pulling over and stopping to check out the park’s unique point’s of interest. Pictured below with our camper (and point A on our map) is one of the interesting landmarks within the park called the Castil de Tierra.

The geology of the landscape is a real spectacle and a unique experience to see. Once inside the park, it’s hard to believe that you are still in Europe!

Aire de Bardenas

The aire de service or area de auto caravanas for the Bardenas Reales is located right on the edge of the park and is the perfect place to stop before your driving adventure into the desert. Situated on the edge of the small town called Arguedas the aire is also right next to the Cuevas de Arguedas or Troglodyte dwellings in the mountainside. Which are great for a look round and insight into how people used to live inside the mountains. The caves are also free to check out.

See the location of Bardenas area de auto caravannas on google maps here.

The town of Arguedas has a real desert town feel with restaurants, cafes and a few small supermarkets where jetons can be purchased for the services at the aire de service.

Driving the Bardenas Reales – To Sum It Up

We loved exploring the Bardenas Reales in our motorhome and would highly recommend stopping if you are in the area or looking for some amazing views and a great day exploring. The natural park is truly a magical place and unlike anything we have seen in Europe before. A must visit if you are exploring Northern Spain. With the option to hike, bike or take the camper to drive through the park the choice is yours!

Happy adventuring,

Adam & Kelly x

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2 thoughts on “Driving The Bardenas Reales – Northern Spain’s Navarre Desert

  1. David says:

    I found your comments very helpful so many thanks for that. I am visiting Bardenas Reales in September 2020 and was wondering if I can access Bardenas Reales after dark to do some astrophotography.
    Many thanks in advance

    • Adam says:

      Hi David, Great! We’re glad you found it so helpful. From memory, we can’t remember seeing any restrictions or barriers as you are driving into the Bardenas Reales and the park, having said that we’re not too sure about the rules or accessibility at the night time so we can’t really confirm unfortunately. I can imagine the shots would be incredible at night! It is maybe worth having a quick scout out to the entrance into the park in the daytime to see if there are any notable signs/information up. Hope you’re able to get the shots you’re after and we would love to know how you get on!

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