Urkiola Natural Park, as is the case with Gorbeia Natural Park, is divided between the historical territories of Álava and Bizkaia. It was declared a Natural Park in 1989.
Urkiola Natural Park takes in the highest terrain of the Sierra de Aramotz and is the backdrop for various tales, traditions and legends. The story goes that Mari, the lady of Anboto, lived there, the most classic and deeply rooted legend among the inhabitants of the Basque Country.
This park is an area of great pastoral tradition, so you can walk among flocks of sheep, herds of cows, horses ...
The crags provide shelter for numerous birds and reptiles, and other creatures such as the marten or wild cat can be found in the woods. With regard to its flora, its woods include beech, oak and some birch trees, which give the park its name.
When speaking about Urkiola Natural Park it is also necessary to mention its surrounding municipalities. Because, beyond the park itself, are valleys where the isolated villages and hamlets scattered about the hills and slopes retain a truly rural environment. In places such as Aramaio or Otxandio time seems to have stopped over 200 years ago.
Reaching summits like Anboto, delving into caves, enjoying the mosaic formed by meadows, crops and baserris (hamlets), are just a few examples of the broad range of activities that this area has to offer. A unique setting within the Basque region that transports us to the heart of the rural world.
Each year Urkiola Natural Park is visited by thousands of mountaineers, attracted by its limestone peaks, especially by the summit of the famous Mount Anboto (1,331 m), but also because of it facilities, with several recreational areas, in addition of two shelters at the Sanctuary of Urkiola for those who want to spend the night in the park.
These are joined by the many visitors who enjoy strolling through the large wooded area that shelters a numerous and varied fauna. The nocturnal tawny owl is the bird of prey with the strongest presence, without undermining the importance of the vulture, peregrine falcon and Egyptian vulture.
Pilgrims who visit do not want to leave without seeing the interesting Santos Antonios sanctuary and the hermitage of Santo Cristo de Atxarte, birthplace of the mythical Basque lamia legends.
The Toki Alai Interpretation and Visitors’ Centre located on the slope of Mount Saibigain, provides information about routes, points of interest and programmed activities in the park.
- The mountain routes are not suitable for people with mobility problems.
From Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastián, via the A-8 or the N-634 as far as Durango and then take the BI-623.
From Vitoria-Gasteiz via N-240, then take the BI-623.