Located some 217 km. from La Rioja city (capital of La Rioja province), Argentina, Talampaya National Park is the most visited tourist destination in La Rioja, that you could combine with a visit to neighboring Ischigualasto Provincial Park, in San Juan province.
Both Parks share a geological basin of around 5.000 km.
Talampaya is named after the Quechua "Dry riverbed of the Tala" (Tala is a tree), as it was running water from the Talampaya river that created its steep-walled sandstone canyons - 150 meters high some of them - during Permian and Triassic times...
There is also an archaeological record of caves and shelters (burial sites, habitations, etc.) as well as rock art: figures, zoomorph engravings and geometrical motifs that goes back to the years 120-1180 AD.
You can visit the remains at two sites: in la Puerta de Talampaya (entrance to Talampaya National Park) and Los Pizarrones (the blackboards).
Its most distinctive fauna - around 250 millions years ago - were the Lagosuchus Talampayensis(dinosaur) and Palaeocheris Talampayensis(turtle).
Today, you'll find mainly a common type of grey fox, armadillos and vizcachas. Andean condors and falcons are also a frequent sight in the area.
Please note that Park access is by guided tour only, irrelevant if you choose to do it by foot, bicycle or a 4WD vehicle. The entrance fee is $12.00 (around U$S 3) and you can visit it all year round - preferable in the morning, to avoid the afternoon heat.
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There are frequent flights from Buenos Aires, Argentina to the cities of La Rioja and San Juan.
From either city, you can arrange a trip to both Parks (Talampaya and Ischigualasto National Parks) through local tour operators. There are several of them, so you can shop around and also choose other itineraries as well.
If you are driving, route 26 traverses de Park and join the small towns of Villa Union and Baldecitos (on the border with San Juan province).
For all your needs: provisions, beverages or fuel, use these towns, as the Park has limited facilities.
The nearby towns of Pagancillo (30 km. to the north) or Villa Union (60 km. away), provide hospedajes, hotels and pensiones for you to stay...Pagancillo: