Ride Report: Bardenas Reales Gravel Bike Route

The Bardenas Reales is a semi-desert natural region, or badlands, of about 420 km2, in southeast Navarre, northern Spain.

This dramatic landscape has been used for several cinema and television productions, like for example Game of Thrones and films like The Counselor and The world is not enough.

The reason for this extraordinary landscape is that the area has been eroded by water and wind creating surprising shapes, canyons, plateaus, tabular structures and isolated hills, locally called cabezos.

Bardenas Reales in northern Spain on my gravel bike ride

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More than the look of it, Bardenas Reales is a natural park protected also because of its unique flora and fauna, adapted to the characteristics of the soil, the extreme temperatures (really cold in winter and a oven in summer), and the scarce, irregular, torrential rainfall.

Bardenas reales gravel route

Knowing all these facts of this special habitat, it’s hard to understand how is possible that the army has a firing range right in the heart of the area… fortunately with not too much use. That still gives us an idea how this kind of terrain was considered useless not long ago.

Abandoned house along the Bardenas Reales gravel bike route I cycled

Talking from a cycling point of view, you don’t need a permit or to pay a fee to ride inside the park, but it’s not allowed to go out of the trails, which makes all the sense considering how fragile the landscape is.

There are several routes available that you can download from here. All routes inside the park are dirt tracks so you will need to use a gravel, hybrid or MTB.

My ride log: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/63456947

Bardenas Reales badlands rock formations in northern Spain

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Getting There

The typical starting point to enter in Bardenas is the city of Tudela, next to the Ebro river (the second longest river in Spain), with its interesting history and cathedral.

In my case, I started to ride from Artajo, a olive oil mill located southeast of Tudela, where it is possible to take a guided tour, buy some excelente olive oil and if you are travelling like me, park up your motorhome.

4 comments

  • Since Spain can be a pain when it comes to heat, when do you think it would be best to hit this route?

    Alexander
  • This would make for an amazing ride! Unfortunately I haven’t rode my mtb for almost a year, mostly because I didn’t manage to get the crew back together. I’ve saved the routes for later, I could do with a Spain trip this summer.

    William
  • I have wanted to go here for a while now and actually had a trip planned for 2020 in April. Unfortunately, we all know too well what happened that year! I am seeing if I can go this year in April. Do you think this is a good month to go if I can manage it or would you recommend a different month to go?

    Jackie
  • This looks amazing. It brings back memories of when I was a kid and I used to ride my BMX through the woods. I’d love to try cycling through here but it’s been decades since I rode a bike. I imagine a mountain bike would be the best bike. How on earth could a cyclist pass on a chance to ride here? Why would they pass up this opportunity if they were in Spain on holiday?

    Kyle Atkins

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