More tumble weeds than people in the Spanish Desert

As we drove along the bumpy dirt road and turned a bend we couldn’t believe the scenery that lay ahead of us; a desert that resembled Monument Valley, but we were thousands of miles from Arizona. We were actually driving through the badlands of Northern Spain.

Bardenas Reales is an unpopulated area made up of clay and sandstone which over time has been shaped and carved by wind and water. It’s like mother natures pottery class. The main highlight of the park is a lone rock formation that’s shape is hard to describe; like a pyramid with a candle poked into the top and the wax has all dripped down giving it an unusual shape and texture. The sun was at the perfect height to make the surroundings glow a beautiful burnt orange colour. We walked around the rock formation which had gullies and creases along its edges, like the wrinkled face of an old lady. The top spire had rocks balanced on top which were so neat and square shaped that they looked like the remains of a man-made wall, as appose to a layer of natural deposits.

It’s shape changed as we walked around, it was a beautiful sight and we couldn’t stop taking photos. The clay ground below it had been swept away by a wild torrent and left a deep canyon. In other areas the clay just fell down in 3 meter deep sinkholes. We certainly walked lightly over that area.

We saw it just in time as the sun got swallowed up by a black cloud and we had to leave the park one hour before dark anyway; no idea why this is but I guess it has something to do with the military base in the park.

So the next day we woke to more hurricane style winds but blue sky again, it’s the desert after all. The park only has three marked walks which are very short, it has lots of mountain biking trails though and a scenic loop drive (how very American) which is what we did.

We passed beautiful mounds with curved walls that folded into one another and would look flat unless the sun was angled to the side and the crevasses would become shadowed and prominent. We followed some concrete steps up one of the mounds to a viewpoint. The rain had caused havoc here and clearly gushed down the side creating a gully which had swept away a few of the steps entirely, one section the steps were half on the clay and half floating above the gully. Just goes to show how fragile and ever changing this area is.

Around the northern section of the road were a mix of pyramid shaped formations and behind them were sheer walled and flat topped ones. It was such a stunning area to drive around, with canyons beside the road, sunset stained rocks and vultures soaring above, what more could you want?

We didn’t see anyone else while in the park, it felt extremely remote, but we did pass hundreds of tumble weeds. We were like big kids throwing them across the road and chasing them along the fields.

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