Lago Puelo National Park

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Lago Puelo National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Puelo Lake.jpg
Location Chubut Province, Argentina
Coordinates 42°11′S 71°41′W / 42.183°S 71.683°W / -42.183; -71.683Coordinates: 42°11′S 71°41′W / 42.183°S 71.683°W / -42.183; -71.683
Area 276.74 km²
Established 1971
Governing body Administración de Parques Nacionales

The Lago Puelo National Park is a national park of Argentina, located in the northwest of the province of Chubut, in the Patagonia. It has an area of 276.74 km². It was created in order to protect its wonderful landscape and the Valdivian flora, as an annex to the Los Alerces National Park, and declared National Park and independent reserve in 1971.

The protected area is named after the Puelo Lake, and belongs to the Patagonic forest and steppes and High Andes eco-regions, with maximum heights of two hundred meters over sea level. The climate is cold and wet, with snowfall in winter. The valley has a trans-Andean connection and a particular microclimate.

The mountainous zone where the park lies was modified by the action of glaciers, which created many rivers and lakes, including the one (Puelo Lake) that gives the park its name. The rivers of the region show high levels of glacier sediment (silt), which gives Puelo Lake its blue color.

Some of the flora of the park belongs to the Valdivian rain forests (avellano, tique, lingue, ulmo). It also includes the ciprés de la cordillera, the coihue, the lenga, the radal, and the arrayán. The rosa mosqueta is an exotic plant.

The fauna includes the pudú, the huemul, the red fox, the cougar, and the coipo. Among birds we find the huala, the pato vapor volador, the bandurria, the pitío and the zorzal patagónico. The lake features native fish such as the perca, the peladilla and the puyén grande, and foreign species of trout.

The first settlers of the region were hunter-gatherers who lived in the steppe and employed stone tools to hunt guanacos. There are cave paintings within the park, apparently showing representations of paths into the forest. Nowadays Mapuche communities live in the eastern part of the park.

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