Toponymy: Its name comes from Barrancas River, which constitutes the border with Mendoza Province.

Access: By National Route 40

Temperatures in summer: Maximum average 30ºC / Minimum average 16ºC

Temperatures in winter: Maximum average 13ºC / Minimum average 4ºC

Distance from Neuquén (capital city): 520 km.

Distance from Buenos Aires City: 1337 km.

Secretariat of State, Production and Tourism: Ruta Nacional 40 - Tel: +54 2948 482027

Gas/Service station: Yes

The town Barrancas is situated to the north of Neuquen Province, in Pehuenches District, 520 km from the capital city of Neuquén, on the right bank of Barrancas River. To the north, it borders Malargüe District in Mendoza Province.

Having a significant number of inhabitants involved in trade, fodder crops and the breeding of livestock (mainly goats), the town has flourished during the past years, especially after the paving of NR 40 was completed.

40 National Route and Barrancas River - Photo:

Barrancas History

Barrancas was the former District capital, originally named “Río Colorado Arriba” (upstream Colorado River). With the territorial division of Neuquen in 1915, the district was given the name “Pehuenches”, with Buta Ranquil as its main town.

50 km upstream from this town, Cari Lauquen Lagoon used to be tributary to Barrancas River from a natural stone dam. In December 1914, this dam collapsed causing Barrancas River to overflow, sweeping villages and livestock away.

In 1901 the local school was founded, having Jesús María Pereyra as its director. The same year the Police Department and the Registry Office started their activities in Don Benjamín Cuello’s house. The Commission for Development was created on May 30, 1969, by Provincial Decree Nº0769 signed by Governor Ernesto Rosauer. The members of this Commission were Elem Meruf, Leopoldo Carreño, Manuel Antonio Valenzuela, Carlos Segundo Figueroa and Rosendo Valenzuela.

The town was officially recognized as such on August 1, 1972, when the Governor Felipe Sapag named it Barrancas (Decree Nº1809). The Commission changed its functions into those of third-category Municipality.

Barrancas church - Photo:

What to visit in Barrancas

Barrancas constitutes the entrance to the adventure tourism circuit that covers the northern border of Neuquen Province. All along Barrancas River there lie different towns and areas of astounding natural beauty, such as:

Barrancas River. Old and new bridge. Ruta Nac. 40 - Photo:

Paraje Coyuco Chico

It lies 53 km from the town. A group of families devoted to rural activities settled down here, where the natural richness of the land provides their herds with the necessary sustenance.

Important and rare geological formations can be appreciated from this paraje, as well as mountains with eternal snow and the northern slope of Domuyo peak (4709 m).

Coyuco - Photo: Luis Alberto Reyes

Huinganco Cascade

Going northwards along PR 53, we get to Huinganco Cascade, whose crystalline waters come from the thaw of the surrounding mountains. Only 1 km from the fall, on the left side of the road, water and wind erosion have given the rock formations the appearance of a medieval castle. This place is known by the locals as Castillo Los Caciques (Los Caciques Castle), which is a spectacular viewpoint.

Cari-Lauquén and Pitra-Lauquén Lagoons

66 km from Barrancas, along PR 53, there lies Cari-Lauquén lagoon (in mapundungun, green lagoon). This body of water is closely related to the history of the community, since the natural stone dam that used to retain the lagoon’s water collapsed in 1914, causing a severe flooding. The previous level that water reached before the flooding can be seen on the hillsides by the road.

Pitra-Lauquén lagoon lies along the same route, approximately 10 km from Cari-Lauquén. In this small piece of paradise, ducks, taguas (coots) and cauquenes (a kind of bustard) feed in a calmness that only seems to be broken by the teros’ (Southern hapwing) chants when they approach the shore.

Cari Lauquen Lagoon - Photo: Sergio Zerega

Cerro Wayle Snowpark

Along PR 37, 49 km from Barrancas and 48 km from Cordillera del Viento, Wayle Hill offers the possibility of practicing winter sports at 3182 m high.

Batra Lauquén Lagoon

At 12 km from Barrancas, this pond is home to different species of migrant birds.

Batra Lauquen Lagoon - Photo:

Río Barrancas Viewpoint - Photo:

What to see in Northern Neuquén