Lonely Planet Writer

Why a Chilean national park is now named after the founder of The North Face

Chile made headlines last month with the announcement that the country would establish more than 10 million acres of new national parkland. Now, one of the parks will be named after the late co-founder of the clothing company The North Face, Douglas Tompkins.

Pumalin National Park. Image by Tompkins Conservation

The honour comes after Tompkins Conservation, a foundation established by Douglas and his wife Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, donated land to the Chilean government to help create the new national parks. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, the president of the group, signed the decree to create Pumalín National Park – Douglas R. Tompkins this week.

The wilds of Pumalin National Park. Image by ©Antonio Vizcaíno

The announcement was made to honour Tompkins’ legacy, as Pumalín National Park was the first of his conservation philanthropy projects in the country. Douglas died in 2015 following a kayaking accident in southern Chile. The entrepreneur and avid conservationist began creating Pumalín back in 1992 by buying up land to protect the region’s temperate rainforests. Now, the park is larger than Yosemite National Park in the US, covering 994,000 acres of which nearly 725,000 was donated by Tompkins Conservation. While Chile offers up plenty of incredible landscapes for travellers to enjoy, Pumalín is located along the Carretera Austral highway, allowing travellers to easily access its network of trails, campgrounds and more in the Andes and along the Pacific Coast.

Pumalin National Park. Image by ©Antonio Vizcaíno

When Douglas first began buying land in Chile, his efforts were “met with opposition and controversy,” according to the conservation group. Since environmental philanthropy was not common there at the time, locals were sceptical of foreigners buying up large pieces of land. However, Tompkins Conservation notes that since that time, communities have started to benefit from the conservation efforts and scepticism has subsided.

If you need even more reasons to visit this year, then find out why Lonely Planet named Chile the best country to visit in 2018.