One of the last remaining unspoiled natural areas on Earth, Patagonia is an outdoor lover’s paradise and has all the makings for a trip of a lifetime. The inspiration for both the founders of The North Face and Patagonia, from peaks to lakes, Patagonia offers one breathtaking view after another.
Sprawling across two countries in South America, Patagonia is immense, 400,000 square miles to be exact, which can make deciding where to go and planning a trip a bit intimidating. Whether you stay on the Argentine side (the trekking capital with a smattering of remote towns) or the Chilean side (closer to the coast and the Andes Mountains), or crossover to see a little bit of both, there are plenty of active pursuits to try everywhere.
Here are our picks for where to go in Patagonia:
Most Popular: Torres del Paine National Park
The top hiking destination in Patagonia and famous for its granite towers and glacier filled valleys, the Chilean Park can be explored on foot for a day hike, but is more suited for rigorous multi-day excursions. The best views of the Torres themselves can be found at the top of Valle Ascensio, but to really experience Los Cuernos you should trek the Valle Frances, and spend the night at either Camping Los Cuernos or Refugio Los Cuernos.
Another Headliner: Perito Moreno Glacier
The crown jewel of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina, this massive ice field is one of only three in Patagonia that continues to grow, and is the world’s third largest reserve of freshwater. The best way to see the glacier is by strapping on some crampons and exploring. Whether you want to dedicate 1.5 hours to the trip or a couple days, there are plenty of photo opportunities here.
Climber’s Paradise: Fitz Roy / El Chalten
At the base of the Patagonian Ice Cap, El Chalten is the epicenter of Los Glaciares National Park. Unlike Torres del Paine, most of the best vantage points are accessible in just a day, allowing you to relax in comfort at a hotel in the sleepy mountain town of El Chalten.
Where to see Antarctica: Tierra del Fuego
The southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, and while it offers a host of outdoor pursuits in it’s own right, the main draw is its opportunity to travel across the Drake Passage to the White Continent. The Antarctic season runs from late October through late March, with various boat options (mainly cruise and expedition ships) offering 10 day to three week journeys.
The Ski Capital of Patagonia: Bariloche
Located on the foothills of the Andes, Bariloche is Patagonia’s answer to the Alps with the main ski resort being Cerro Catedral. During the summer, beautiful beaches replace the boards and skis, and brave lake swimmers venture into the frigid waters (which are really just melted snow).