Fire Walls

South of Chilecito, a cornice road flanked by deep valleys and narrow gorges takes us towards colossal deep red walls. We visited Cuesta de Miranda.

The Inka Ñan Tourism shuttle picked us up on the dot where we had arranged. We headed South through legendary Route 40. A clear morning with cool air predicted an ideal day to visit the famous Cuesta de Miranda, a place promising big rocky outcrops of changing shapes and intense red color. There we went.

The immensity of Famatina Hill, with its eternal snow, was the silent witness of our tour along the way. The contrast of the snow-capped summits with the blue sky and the green mountains creates a perfect postcard to keep in our minds.

Through the truck window we could see the town of Nonogasta (“town of the breasts”) and Sañogasta (”town of clay” in the Canano tongue) in the background. We found out that the remarkable jurist Joaquín V. González was born in Nonogasta. To the side of the road, we found some jarillas, gorse, chañares and algarrobos scattered around the nearby fields. Farther ahead, there were the first cardons pointing at the sky like accusing fingers while the Miranda River showed us the way. A historical site known as “La Pelea” (the Fight) is located there, where José Linares was beaten in combat by Colonel Felipe Varela in one of the riots between unitarios and federales.

  • A cornice road

    A cornice road

  • Flanked by deep valleys

    Flanked by deep valleys

  • Colossal deep red walls

    Colossal deep red walls

  • Near Talampaya National Park

    Near Talampaya National Park

  • South of Chilecito

    South of Chilecito

  • An unforgettable landscape

    An unforgettable landscape

We headed forward. We could see two hills around us and our imagination let us see the Sleeping Indian on one of the mountains on the way.

After several turns, the route became a gravel road and we started to drive along Cuesta de Miranda (the Miranda slope). It is called like that because the Spanish governor don Juan de Miranda was the former owner of these lands. It is a different geologic formation, belonging to the Carboniferous Permian Period, where iron oxide predominates producing a crimson red color.
The water from the recent rainfalls highlighted the clay color and the midday sunshine made it burn like fire.

The shuttle pulled over for us to take pictures. We watched how the cacti made a colony that seemed to come down from the hill as in a procession.
The steep ravines themselves were a show. The road went up and down alternatively. The precipices were over three hundred meters high.

Finally, we reached the highest point in our journey. We stopped at the viewpoint known as Bordo Atravesado, located about 2,020 meters above sea level. The big walls of the National Park Talampaya could be seen in the distance. The panoramic view was endless towards the four cardinal points. The wind, an invisible friend in these latitudes, softly stroked our foreheads while we were watching the hundreds of shapes of the red walls of Cuesta de Miranda.

After such a show, we started to retrace our steps. The excursion adopted a different tone as we changed perspective. Without noticing, we had reached the paved road and then civilization again. Cuesta Miranda was left behind anxiously waiting for other tourists to visit it.

Autor Marcelo Sola Fotografo Marcelo Sola

Contact of the excursion or tour


Inka Ñan Turismo

Leovino Martínez 49 (5360) Chilecito, La Rioja

Tel: +54 3825-423641 Cel: +54 3825-671933

Tour typeTour type: Mountaineering, hiking, contemplating nature

DifficultyDifficulty: Low

DurationDuration: half a day or all day

Opening hoursOpening hours: To be arranged with the guide.

How to get hereHow to get here: To reach Cuesta de Miranda, take Route 40 from Chilecito. At the beginning the road is paved but the last 12 km it is a gravel road in good condition which allows any vehicle through.

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