It didn’t look like we were going to be seeing any waterfalls as we pulled off the road at the sign for Monasterio de Piedra. We’d driven past mountains, desert (the Spanish dirt kind, not the African sandy kind), and a lake, but still were in the middle of nowhere.
It was my second road trip in Spain, the first being a success in Asturias. By success I mean that it rained and/or snowed the entire time but my road trip partner-in-crime Jonathan and I still had a blast exploring despite the elements. This time headed toward Zaragoza with cell service dwindling and the tiny pueblo we passed by looking deserted, we started to think we might be very lost up until we pulled up to the monastery.
Monasterio de Piedra is an old monastery, park, and hotel. It was strange to me that the monastery is also a hotel and spa; the concept kind of ruined the historical feel I was hoping for. Regardless, we didn’t enter the hotel and I was only there to see the big attraction: the waterfalls.
Costing about $12 a person with a student ID, we had free rein over the park and the monastery. We shoved our maps into our pockets and charged down the muddy path, the trees acting as umbrellas, blocking out the warm sun above us and leaving only streams of sunlight shining on our surroundings. We were in our very own enchanted forest.
Aside from a few construction workers and a handful of other tourists, we were the only park dwellers on this unseasonably warm February day. We took our time hiking through the park, stopping to take silly photos and all.
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls…”
Against the words of one of my favorite 90’s girl music groups, TLC, I was in fact chasing waterfalls in this park. They were so gorgeous! When I’d first heard about Monasterio de Piedra, I pictured only one big waterfall in a jungle (as if Spain had one). I didn’t expect to ever visit a natural park like this in Spain.
We first approached a little waterfall with a larger one behind it. My eyes lit up, thinking this was all we were going to see for the day and completely satisfied with that. It wasn’t exactly Iguazu Falls, but the view was beautiful, and a nice change from the city parks I’m used to seeing in Madrid. I was finally in nature with no buildings in sight.
I was pleasantly surprised as I followed the arrows for the path and kept finding more cascading falls. Soft cushions of moss covered the rocks of the smaller waterfalls and the inner child in me just wanted to slide down them and splash around in the pools of water.
Cola del CaballoWhen we reached the top of finale, the Cola del Caballo (Horsetail), I could see down below to the lagoon-like, aqua colored river. The water looked as if it were warm enough to swim in on a sunny day, even in February. Unfortunately, no swimming allowed! As we followed along the path, we walked down through a cave and behind the waterfall. All I could feel was pure joy as the mist sprayed my face, I was having way too much fun standing behind the waterfall. The limestone formations in the cave were reminiscent of the cliffs on Koh Phi Phi, Thailand. Although a world away from that magical island, for a minute I thought I was in two places at once. The view once we arrived at the base of the waterfall was breathtaking, and it really did look like a horse’s tail! The color contrast between the orange rocks and the blue-green water was perfect. This was undoubtedly my favorite part of the entire hike.
Though not the largest waterfalls I’ve ever seen, the falls at Monasterio de Piedra were strikingly beautiful. It’s the first natural wonder of its kind that I’ve seen in Spain and undoubtedly is one of the most interesting places I’ve visited here. This country has so much more to offer than I ever expected. I was only looking for a quiet retreat in nature, I had no idea what I would find amidst the enchanted forest.
Have you ever visited a natural wonder that made you swoon?