Chile's Epic 'Route of Parks' Will Link 17 National Parks to Save the Patagonia Wilderness
Travelers looking for adventures will have a jaw-dropping new trail to chase. A new "route of parks" will stretch a jaw-dropping 1,500 miles across 17 national parks, an idyllic road winding some of the most spectacular natural sceneries in the entire world.
According to a report from National Geographic, Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet ordered the construction of Route 7 in 1976. The dirt road, one that passes through Patagonia's wilderness, went on to be called Carretera Austral (Southern Highway), a product of 10,000 soldiers who built it.
Now, part of the road will be rebranded as Ruta de los Parques or "Route of Parks." A road which stretches 1,500 miles and lets travelers see 17 of the country's most beautiful national parks.
American philanthropists Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of the clothing company Patagonia, and her late husband Doug Tompkins, co-founder of the North Face and Esprit, spent two decades buying land across the Patagonia region in hopes of saving the natural wilderness. The couple's organization was able to acquire and donate one million acres to the government as a public, national park Parque Pumalín. As a response, the government -- led by Chilean president Michelle Bachelet -- promised the creation of five new national parks and an additional 10 million acres of federal land.
"This is unprecedented and will become one of the most famous routes in the world, connecting up communities and bringing new economic activity to each region," Tompkins explained the route of parks to the people gathered in the new national park, according to a report from The Guardian. "There is no long-term conservation possible unless neighbouring communities find that their best interests are served. National parks have proven to be a strong source of national pride, creating honour and admiration throughout their citizenry."