El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso), which was built in 1964, created a turquoise reservoir that can hold more than 253 million cubic meters of water. Though just a couple hours outside of Santiago, the snow-capped mountains that surround the site are more reminiscent of rural Patagonia than of the bustling metropolis.
El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso) is a staple of day trips to Cajón del Maipo, a dramatic gorge that boasts some of central Chile’s most arresting scenery. Join an excursion from Santiago to see some of the waterfalls and glaciers that the area is famous for. These tours typically take you to a viewpoint that overlooks the dam, where you can enjoy a picnic that includes Chilean wine.
Things to Know Before You Go
- El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso) is a great outdoor attraction for travelers who don’t have time to venture all the way down to Patagonia.
- The dam is a great place to go fishing and windsurfing.
- Sturdy shoes and warm, waterproof clothing are essential if you plan to hike in the gorge surrounding the reservoir.
- You can camp in the areas surrounding the dam.
How to Get There
El Yeso Dam is located on Camino Embalse El Yeso, about 2.5 hours from Santiago. A four-wheel-drive vehicle is essential on the rough roads that lead to the dam. Guided day trips typically include round-trip transportation.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the dam is during the spring and summer months (September–February). In the fall and winter, snowy and wet conditions can make the dam inaccessible.
Discovering Cajon de Maipo
While visiting El Yeso Dam (Embalse El Yeso), you can extend your visit and hike to one of several other natural attractions. One popular option is to trek to Termas del Plomo, about 2.5 hours away, to soothe aching muscles with a soak in natural hot springs heated by the San José Volcano. At 9,500 feet (2,900 meters) above sea level, the springs also offer panoramic views.