The Nuria Valley is a fantastic natural area in Catalan geography, of glacial origin and with a wide variety of flora y la fauna. It sits on the southern side of the eastern part of the Pyrenees, at two thousand metres above sea level and is surrounded by peaks reaching up to three thousand metres. Its highest point is the Puigmal, at 2,913 metres.
The Núria Valley is a fantastic natural area in Catalan geography, of glacial origin and with a wide variety of flora and fauna. It sits on the southern side of the eastern part of the Pyrenees, at two thousand metres above sea level and is surrounded by peaks reaching up to three thousand metres. Its highest point is the Puigmal, at 2,913 metres.
The valley is characterised by its geomorphology that has been greatly influenced by the vast swathes of snow and ice that covered this land 25,000 years ago. The location of these masses shaped a main glacier, where other smaller ones from the side valleys converged. This is why today there are glacial cirques, rugged terrain, deep gorges and karstic cavities. Another important consequence of this glacial activity is the large number of torrents and small lakes in the valley.
The action and accumulation of snow in the ice source zones during the glacial period gave rise to the current pot-shaped terrain, with almost vertical walls. The La Coma de Eina glacial cirque, next to the peaks of Eina and Noufonts is a stunning sight, with walls reaching up to five hundred metres in height.
Another effect of the snow was the formation of spectacular U-shaped valleys, many now occupied by lakes. The best examples are Coma de Vaca and the Núria River valleys. You can also see waterfall deposits, small moraine deposits and the so-called hanging valleys that end abruptly, such as that of Fuentealba, which descends from the foot of Puigmal and concludes with a stunning waterfall.
Water has also played a major role in the valley. Over time it has created deep gorges dug out through the substrate in places such as the Coma de Vaca Valley. In areas of calcareous rock, the action of the water has caused the formation of karstic phenomena as can be seen in the Forat de l'Embut, a network of subterranean tunnels reaching almost a kilometre in length through which water flows to the Finestrelles Torrent.
This is one of the main torrents in the valley, along with the La Coma del Embudo, Eina, Noufonts and Mulleres. All collect water from the headwaters on the highest peaks and transport them to the bottom of the valleys until reaching the Núria Lake, from where they descend via the Núria River between the Totlomón rocks.
A tremendous biodiversity has developed throughout the valley, especially the flora and fauna that inhabit the gorges and banks of the torrents. In the Alpine zone, above 2,400 metres, there is a highly selective habitat owing to the harsh climate. Here the vegetation grows low, with meadows of Pyrenean gentiana, a bluey-coloured flower, inhabited by animals such as the chamois, ptarmigan and mouflon.
The landscapes in the sub-Alpine zone, up to 1,600 metres, are typically extensive forests and gorges, with green-colour rocks. The black pine forests, mushrooms (especially St. George's mushrooms) and the golden eagle are all worthy of a mention too. Finally, in the mid-mountain zone, which descends from 1,600 metres, there are forests of deciduous trees, large leafed oaks, hazelnut trees and ferns. Amongst the animals to be found here are the blue tit, robin and the salamander.
The only means of reaching the centre of the valley, where the Núria Sanctuary is situated along with the rest of the ski resort, accommodation and leisure facilities, is by the rack train, a service that was opened in 1931 (with stations in Ribes de Freser and Queralbs). It is here where you can enjoy activities and amenities such asarchery, forest walks, a picnic area, horse riding across the mountains, a cable car and minigolf.
Climbing the Núria Valley can be done in three stages: the mid-mountain stage (up to 1,600 metres above sea level); the sub-Alpine stage (1,600-2,400 metres) and the Alpine stage (from 2,400 metres).