Ghost route in Rioja

Some of the strange geological features found on the Ghost Route. Credit: Rioja Town Hall

In Rioja families can discover the ‘Ghost Route’ an attraction in the Bajo Andarax region, which is perfect for kids, blending natural heritage, sports, and tourism.

Manuela Mañas, a guide, explains that along the way, visitors encounter surprising geological shapes caused by erosion. You can see a landscape that resembles ghost faces and fairy chimneys. They look artificial, but they’re natural.

The route offers two options: a long one of 10 kilometres and a short one of only 4. The longer route starts from Constitution Square and passes through Cañadas de Vela, Rambla Los Arcos (starting point of the short route), Barranco del Lobo, and Barranco de La Palma.

Intriguing formations

The intriguing geological formations begin to appear in Rambla de Los Arcos, including what’s known as “the circus of ghosts,” also found in Barranco de Los Lobos. In Barranco de La Palma, fairy chimneys and “sand tears” can be seen. Here, on school trips, children are told, “The earth cries because we don’t treat it well.”

Millions of years ago, this area was underwater. Soft materials like sand and clay were deposited on the slopes. Exposed to erosive processes (wind, runoff, rain, hail, heat), these materials degraded, forming the curious shapes resembling.

Since 2015, efforts have been made to highlight this route, although it remains unmarked.

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Written by

Julian Phillips

Born in the UK, has lived in 9 countries, before finally coming to Spain in 2015. Currently living in Almeria and working out of the EWN office in Mojacar.