The Cascadas del Rio Gandara (or more accurately Cascadas del Río Gándara with the accents) was supposed to be a long cascade viewable from a pair of overhanging observation decks that could induce a sense of vertigo. As you can see from the photos on this page, the falls was barely visible (if at all) though there were certainly sounds of rushing water coming from down below even though I was high up on the overhanging platform. The lady at the Centro de Interpretación Los Collados del Asón had told me that this falls didn’t have much water this late into the year, and that they would typically run in the Winter or early Spring, where there’s a higher likelihood of heavy rains. Of course, it could’ve also been a pretty dry year in this part of the land even though we visited on a day when there was a storm the day before.
As for the visit itself, it was pretty straightforward once we found the car park or pullout (see directions below). From there, we followed a pretty flat sidewalk leading right up to the overhanging platforms. There were views to be had all around both during the walk and from the observation decks. However, there was little reason to linger much longer given the state the falls was in. It also didn’t seem obvious to get access to the falls for a closer look though admittedly, we didn’t try that hard for alternate routes. So it was pretty much a nearly drive-to waterfalling excursion (unless one decided to walk the unpaved road from the Centro de Interpretación to the mirador).
Something that I noticed concerning the nomenclature of this waterfall that I found to be confusing was that I noticed that both genders el and la were applied to the name of this waterfall. So, in addition to how we’re referring to the falls, we’ve also seen it referred to as Cascadas del Gándara, Cascada de la Gándara, or Cascada La Gándara. I think part of this confusion had to do with the fact that the town nearest to the falls was called La Gándara. So perhaps when they’re referring to the masculine form, they really mean el Río Gándara, which was how we addressed the falls on this page. When they use the feminine form, they’re probably referring to the town’s name.
We visited the Cascada del Rio Gandara as part of a long out-and-back loop that began and ended in Bilbao. We’ll describe this “lasso” loop so you can at least see two different ways of getting to this waterfall.
From Bilbao, we motored west on the A-8 autovía (Autovía del Cantábrico) for about 55km. We then exited the highway and onto the N-629 road headed south away from Colindres. We followed the N-629 road for about 18km entering the town of Ramales de la Victoria. At this point, we had a choice of going west on the CA-261 road or continuing south on the N-629 road. Incidentally, this was also where we started and ended the loop.
So from the CA-261 and N-629 road junction, we decided to follow the pink “Los Collados del Asón” signs, which led us another 2km south on the N-629 to the CA-256 road. We then followed the narrow and twisty CA-256 road for about 18km into the town of La Gándara and the Interpretation Center. Just beyond the center, there was a signposted turnoff on the left for the Mirador del Gándara. So we followed this unpaved turnoff for the last 300m (keeping left at the fork) where we stopped the car at the small car park.
The drive from Bilbao to the Cascada del Rio Gandara using the CA-256 road took us on the order of 90 minutes.
Then, after finishing our visit, we continued driving on the CA-256 road for another 2km before it became the CA-265 road headed into the Valle de Asón. Then, we’d head north on the CA-265 road eventually leading us to the CA-261 road after 12km. Note that along the CA-265, we encountered the Mirador at the head of the Asón Valley at about 1km beyond where CA-265 began, then the Mirador del Nacimiento del Río Asón another 800m later.
Once we were on the CA-261, we turned right and followed this road for about 12km back to the junction with the N-629 road in Ramales de la Victoria. We then returned to Bilbao back the way we came in. So overall, this part of the route from the Cascada del Rio Gandara to Bilbao also took us about 90 minutes. So the grand total of just the driving of this entire route took on the order of three hours (not including stops).
Finally, for some geographical context, Bilbao was 101km (over an hour drive) west of San Sebastián, 159km (over 1.5 hours drive) northeast of Burgos, 336km (over 3 hours drive) east of León, and 402km (4 hours drive) north of Madrid.
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