It’s immediately obvious when you look on a map that Chile is a narrow country. From the salty shores of the Pacific Ocean, rarely is it more than 100 miles east to the snowcapped Andes. For urbanites living in Santiago, Baños Morales is a favorite spot for escaping to Chile’s mountains—leaving the heat of the lowlands behind and retreating into the hills. Here at an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet, visitors are surrounded by snowcapped peaks and glacially fed alpine lakes, as well as springs that are naturally heated by the rich, volcanic earth. While the town of Baños Morales itself houses no more than three dozen people, it’s nearby Monumento Natural El Morado that draws hikers and travelers in droves. Hike the Sendero El Ventisquero trail that leaves from Baños Morales, and passes by hot springs, lakes, and vistas over the 3.5 mile trail. Horseback riding is a popular option for those who prefer not to hike, as is soaking in thermal springs to ease the achy joints. While here, take a deep breath of fresh mountain air that blows through the Andean valleys, and leave the city smog behind to commune with the natural beauty.
Baños Morales is located 56 miles from the capital city of Santiago, and while it’s technically possible to visit as a day trip, most travelers opt to stay overnight in Refugio lo Valdés. For hikers, there is an admission fee of $4 for visiting the natural park.