One of the biggest drawcards in the whole of Jaén province is the lushly wooded, 2143-sq-km Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. It is the largest protected area in Spain, and its corrugated, craggy mountain ranges are memorably beautiful, as is the huge, snaking 20km reservoir in its midst. This is also the origin of the Río Guadalquivir, Andalucía’s longest river, which rises between the Sierra de Cazorla and Sierra del Pozo in the south of the park and flows northwards into the reservoir, before heading west towards the Atlantic Ocean.
The best times to visit the park are in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn, when the vegetation is at its most colourful and the temperatures are mild.
Exploring the park is a lot easier if you have a vehicle, but some bus services exist and there are plenty of places to stay within the park. If you don’t have a vehicle to get to the more remote regions, you do have the option of taking guided excursions to those areas. The tourist office in Cazorla can provide a list of tour operators.
The park is hugely popular with Spanish tourists and attracts an estimated 600,000 visitors a year – some 50,000 of those coming during Semana Santa. The other peak periods are July and August, and weekends from April to October.