Introducing Río Grande
A monster trout sculpture at the entrance to town announces the de facto fly-fishing capital of Tierra del Fuego, with world-class blue-ribbon angling for colossal sea-run trout. But nonfishers will likely stay in windswept Río Grande for a few hours, before hopping on a bus to Ushuaia, 230km southwest.
As wool baron José Menéndez’ sheep stations developed, Río Grande grew as a makeshift service town. In 1893 the Salesian order, under the guidance of Monseñor Fagnano, set up a mission in an unsuccessful attempt to shelter the Selk’nam from the growing infringement. As a petroleum service center, the town has an industrial feel: even the public art looks like giant, grim tinker toys. Geared at the business traveler, it’s also pricey for visitors. Duty-free status, meant to foster local development, has brought in electronics manufacturing plants and wholesale appliance stores. During the Falklands War the military played an important role here; memorials pay tribute to fallen soldiers.
Catering to high-end anglers, Posada de los Sauces fosters a lodge atmosphere, with fresh scents and woodsy accents. Opposite Casino Status, Hotel Villa has a popular restaurant, and a dozen spacious and stylish rooms. Hosting both ladies having tea and cake, and boys at the varnished bar downing beer and burgers, Tante Sara serves good cafe food, though service can be sluggish.
Most visitor services are along Avs San Martín and Belgrano. For tourist information, visit Instituto Fueguino de Turismo on the south side of the plaza or the Municipal Tourist Kiosk, a helpful kiosk on the plaza, with maps, estancia brochures and fishing details. Mariani Travel books flights and represents nearby estancias.