Two park rangers from the United States recently spent 10 days with their Chilean counterparts in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine in the extreme south of the country assessing the park’s master plan. The visit was part of the U.S. National Park Service’s Sister Park Initiative.
The two rangers, Shauna Potocky and Kristin Ramsey, met with the staff of Torres del Paine to lend their experience toward the development of the park’s long-term plans and promotional materials. More than 3.7 million people visit Yosemite, one of the oldest national parks in the world, per year.
“We want to have a strategic plan to project Torres del Paine into the future, hopefully until 2025,” Federico Hechenleitner, a Chilean National Forest Service (CONAF) ranger, said. “We imagined how this would be, and we made it into a project we could work together on.”
The Sister Park program links U.S. national parks with parks abroad whose landscapes have a lot in common. Situated in the stunning Sierra Nevada Mountains of northern California, Yosemite national park bears a striking resemblance to the beautiful forests and iconic granite towers in Torres del Paine.
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine receives about 150,000 visitors per year. Two major trails through the park — the well-known W and the longer, more challenging Circuit — lead hikers through the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The trails pass by the famed Torres del Paine massif (three huge granite towers best seen at sunrise), the breathtaking Valle Frances, and Glacier and Lago Grey.
The program also links two other parks between the two nations: Parque Marino Francisco Coloane, located south of Punta Arenas, and Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. Parque Marino Francisco Coloane is Chile’s first aquatic reserve and one of the Andean nation’s best places for whale watching. It is also a great place to see nesting penguins and enjoy outdoor activities such as sea kayaking.