Ride Report: Bardenas Reales Gravel Bike Route

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

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.