The Park

It was declared a Protected Area by the Government of the Province of San Juan on November 3, 1971, mainly for its paleontological value, which was subsequently confirmed with the Declaration of World Heritage by UNESCO on November 30, 2000.

Dr. William Dudley Sill was the first researcher from San Juan to lead paleontological explorations in search of fossils in that place, also known as “The Valley of the Moon.” He was also responsible for creating the “Ischigualasto Provincial Park” by law and the main promoter of the declaration of the site as a “World Heritage Site”.

William Sill was born in 1937 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. In 1959 he came to San Juan as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In this province he met the saddler Nélida Salinas, with whom he later formed a family.

After his first stay in San Juan, he moved to Utah to complete his studies in geology in 1963, under the supervision of noted paleontologists Bryan Paterson and Alfred Romer. After graduating, he began teaching at Yale University.

William Sill returned to Argentina in 1969 as a geologist hired by YPF to work in Luján, Mendoza. A year later, he took over the chair of Paleontology in San Juan in the brand new career of Geology of the Faculty of Engineering and Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences (FICEFN), then dependent on the National University of Cuyo (UNCUYO); later it was also incorporated into the Museum of Natural Sciences of the Domingo F. Sarmiento Provincial University.

William himself had created a very good relationship with the Government of San Juan and the National University, so it did not take him long to convince the authorities to create by law in 1971 the “Ischigualasto Provincial Park”. During the period 1971-1976, the paleontological campaigns of Williams Sill and his team made it possible to assemble the first collection of paleovertebrates from Ischigualasto in San Juan. In 1978 they decided to return to the United States due to several acts of insecurity by the military government of the time.

However, his affection for Argentina, especially Ischigualasto, brought him back in 1992. Here he returned to join the Research Institute and Museum of Natural Sciences, this time as Deputy Director of the unit and Head of the Vertebrate Paleontology Area.

Sill’s big goal came true on December 2, 2000. That day, after several trips to UNESCO headquarters in Paris to defend the qualities of the geological and paleontological heritage of the “Ischigualasto Provincial Park” and also of the “Talampaya National Park” of La Rioja, “El Gringo” received with more happiness than anyone the announcement of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: both parks are “Natural Heritage of Humanity”.

The “American-born Sanjuanino,” as he used to call himself, died on March 15, 2008 in Las Vegas. His remains rest in that city, except for his heart, whose ashes are preserved in an urn buried in Ischigualasto, as was his wish, along with the secrets that this extraordinary place still keeps in its bowels.

That is why the Interpretation Centre, which is located on the tourist circuit, deservedly bears his name and inside it the visitor can see fossils that will allow them to better understand the evolution of this species that interests both children and adults, such as dinosaurs.

The Park has a “Management Plan”, where its fundamental pillars are the care of the anthropological heritage, the development of the host communities as well as the tourist activity.

Geographic location

The Ischigualasto Provincial Park is located northeast of the province of SAN JUAN, in the departments of VALLE FÉRTIL and JÁCHAL; and it borders the province of LA RIOJA to the north.

The height above sea level includes a range from 1200 to 1800 meters in the highest peaks.

According to the records of Directorate of Geodesy and Cadastre of the province of SAN JUAN of May 24, 2005, the extension of the Park covers 62,916 hectares.

Creation goals

“Conserve the only place in the world that possesses the complete sequence of continental sediments of the Triassic period, with an abundant fossil record which reveals the evolution of the life of the vertebrates and the nature of the paleoenvironments.”

Conservation objectives

1. Conserve the complete Ischigualasto – Villa Unión basin and the particular geological processes that take place in it.
2. Conserve and protect paleontological sites of global relevance.
3. Conserve biological processes and critical sites or particular biotypes for species of special value.
4. Conserve a representative sample of the Bio-Geographical Province of Monte, Pre-Puna and CHACO.
5. Conserve and protect the archaeological and historical heritage.
6. Conserve sites of unique scenic beauty.
7. Contribute to the socio-economic development of the region through sustainable public use.


“A protected area of international recognition, fully conserved, adaptive management model, with diverse options of sustainable use, which generates a strong sense of belonging in the community, and which is a producer of knowledge of great relevance to transfer it to the world.”


We offer the visitor a traditional circuit, with a duration of 3 hours, where they will be able to know the most famous geoforms of this site, such as the Mushroom, the Submarine, Bocce Court and Painted Valley. Also in the middle of the circuit you can visit the WILLIAM SILL Site Museum. There you can see real fossils and see “in situ” how you work with them.

The traditional circuit is complemented by the tour of the Interpretation Center of the National University of SAN JUAN, there you will know the scientific value of ISCHIGUALASTO and they will be able to observe the timeline of the Triassic era up to the present.

Every month during 4 days we offer the Full Moon Circuit, as well as alternative trekking and mountain bike circuits.

We also have great amenities at the base of the park as a mobile phone signal from Movistar, Wi-Fi, bathrooms, showers, confectionery, craft center and camping area.

How to walk it

The Ischigualasto Provincial Park offers different options to visit it and each of them with different modalities. In all the circuits the visitor will be able to know fantastic landscapes being the main attraction the multiplicity of colors that contrast depending on the time of day in which one enters.

The traditional route and the circuit with a full moon takes place in the vehicle with which the passenger arrives at the attraction. It is mandatory to enter accompanied by a park guide, who will have as main objective to explain the importance of the place, as well as each one of the visitor’s questions.

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Parque Provincial Ischigualasto
Parque Provincial Ischigualasto
Parque Provincial Ischigualasto