The Calingasta Valley is a vast smear of scenic butter cradled between the Andes and the rumpled, multicolored precordillera, and is one of the most beautiful regions in both San Juan and Mendoza provinces. The town of Calingasta itself is a small agricultural oasis shaded by álamos (poplars) on the shores of Río de los Patos. Other than appreciating the views, there’s little to do, though a visit to the 17th-century whitewashed adobe chapel Capilla de Nuestra Señora del Carmen makes a nice stop on the way to Barreal.
Looming on the horizon 7km out of town is Cerro El Calvario, the site of an indigenous cemetery where several mummies have been found. One example can be seen in Calingasta’s small archaeological museum, just off the main plaza.