The small mountain town of Patagonia was named when Welsh miners who had gone to Patagonia in Argentina migrated to the area to work in the silver mines of Arizona. They thought (correctly) that it resembled the area they came from in Argentina so they named it after their former home.
The entire area is well known as a birders paradise, with Patagonia Lake, a creek and a hummingbird sanctuary drawing people from all over the country. We stopped by for a brief visit, and was entertained by the birds, and the people.
In our travels across North America we have visited the Badlands in South Dakota, seen fossils in Arizona, and dinosaur bones in Colorado. In Southern Patagonia we had the chance to do this all in one place, La Leona.
And because it happens to be on a 30,000 acre ranch owned by one person, it is very restricted as to who can go there. We arranged a tour through one of the agencies in El Calafate, and were very pleased the next morning to see a mini van come to pick us up. Our group had 7 people, a driver and the guide!
The area is about 1.5 hours north of El Calafate – the scenery was fantastic along the way.
After a long drive up a bumpy dirt road, we got out and took off through the badlands.
It wasn’t long before we came upon the first dinosaur bone. They have been removing nearly full dinosaur skeletons from here for more than 20 years, so what is left are the ‘scraps’.
Still very impressive, they welcome you to touch them, hold them, and examine them – just leave them. They even gave us instructions on how to tell bone from rock – lick them. Or rather, lick your finger and press it against the object. If it sticks it is bone, otherwise it is rock.
There is even interesting vegetation throughout.
Our hike through the badlands continued with our guide Roci, until we reached the ‘petrified forest’. Roci was very knowledgeable and gave an excellent overview of what we were seeing, and how it got to be that way.
It is amazing how heavy small fragments of the petrified wood weighs.
We spent about 3 hours wandering around the badlands, finding plenty of petrified wood, and the occasional dinosaur bone.
What an amazing place, and fantastic day. To be able to see and touch these wonders of nature was great – and with such a small group at that.