Parque Natural Sierra Nevada is with 85.883 the biggest national park in Spain. Around the National Park is a Natural Park designated which contains 90.000 hectares. The Sierra Nevada National Park is shared between the Province of Granada (65 % of the park) and the Province of Almería (35 %). The park in total, is also recognized as a biospere reserve by UNESCO. Mulhacen is with 3489 meters the highest peak of the Spanish mainland. This park is a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, photographers, nature lovers and for ski lovers in the winter. The highest peaks are covered with snow from November untill July. On four different sides you can enter the park; by the region Guadix, Occidente or Granada, Valle Lecrín and Alpujarra.
On some days you can watch strange formed clouds above the Sierra Nevada. The nicest and most spectacular are the Lenticular clouds. Although lenticular clouds may look like they’re from outer space, they’re actually just the result of normal earthly scientific processes. Where stable moist air flows over a mountain or a range of mountains, a series of large-scale standing waves may form on the downwind side. Lenticular clouds sometimes form at the crests of these waves. Under certain conditions, long strings of lenticular clouds can form, creating a formation known as a wave cloud. When it is formed, it can seem to hover for hours. Especially with sunset this can results in spectacular views.
In spring the mountains are still covered with snow. Hiking is possible in the lower parts, but for the higher parts you need special equipment, because some parts can be very icy. The ski station in Pradollano is still open, which makes this the best period for planning your ski vacation. The days are longer and the temperatures are rising so the melting process is starting, which fills the mountain streams with fresh water. The best period to see the thaw process or the so called "deshielo" is in June / July. All depends on the wheather conditions and the amount of snow that is present on the mountains. This process will wil first start at the south side, or the Sierra Nevada Alpujarra .
The summer is an excellent period to enjoy the Sierra Nevada, especially the first month, when you can see the thaw process at the northern and western part of the Sierra Nevada. This process is amazing, the meltwater is flowing to the riverbeds and this is creating snow bridges, tunnels and caves. The light that is entering the snow is giving it a green and/or blue color. At the side of the Occidente or Granada the gondola lift will be operational in July and August in order to bring hikers and mountain bikers to an altitude of 3100 meters. There are several marked trails set out.
The autumn in Granada is not comparable with the autumn in northern Eurpean countries. Actually autumn does almost not excists. A very few trees are losing their leafs in October the most start changing color at the end of November and December, when the first snow has fallen. September, October and November are perfect months to hike in the Sierra Nevada, if you keep aware of the actual weather conditions. These months have still pleasant temperatures. The daytime temperatures are still above the 2oC degrees, although it can be fresh in the morning and in the late afternoon. The difference between maximum and minimum temperature can be 20C degrees.
The Sierra Nevada Occidente is changing totally in winter when the ski resort Pradollano is opening the ski slopes. The village which is part of the municpality of Monachil is offering a maximum of 100 km of ski slopes. Normaly the ski season is opening at the first of December until May. The winter of Granada will surprise many tourists. In January at the same time, you can still see some autumn colored trees in the city and spring blossoms of almond trees in the countryside from Alpujarra or Lecrin, but a view on the white mountains tells you it is winter. At some days it is even possible to do a ski tour in the morning and having a delicious lunch in your summer clothes on the beach.
The park has some unique ecosystems, high mountain grasslands, deciduous forests and even Mediterranean bushes, make this mountain a place with a high biological diversity. Thus, this enclave has one of the most valuable floras of all Europe, with over 2,000 cataloged plants of the about 8,000 that exist in the Iberian Peninsula. It is in the mountains, in the "Cascajares" and "Borreguiles" where most of the more than 60 unique species of the Sierra Nevada are located; including the Star of Snows, Mountain Poppy, the Violata de Sierra Nevada and the Mountain Chamomile are the best known.
In the park live more than 60 diffrent species of birds, not only typical mountain (golden eagle, Alpine Accentor), but also birds less wilderness areas (golden oriole, hoopoe, wren). Among mammals, is the mountain goat, which can be seen more easily. The invertebrate fauna is also important, with 80 endemic insects. (Source: http://www.juntadeandalucia.es/medioambiente)
The Sierra Nevada Observatory (OSN) is located on the Loma de Dílar, in Granada. It has two telescopes with Nasmyth configuration with a 1.5 m and 0.90 m aperture which are located in a rectangular building, 10 by 20 meters, The major axis is oriented east-west. The telescopes are installed in two domes of 9 and 6.5 meters. Recently they have installed a tetrascopio which consists of a set of four small telescopes in pairs in separate dwellings. The OSN is managed and operated by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA). On every Saturday night a workshop Astronomical Observation is organized, A combination of entertainmment and explanations when using astronomical equipment. it is designed for the night skiers and visitors, a trip with the Borreguiles gondola lift is included.
The northern part of the Sierra Nevada is called Guadix - Marquesado de Zenite. It is the most green part of the Sierra Nevada. The mountain flanks are covered with woods, which are crossed by several beuatiful mountain rivers. Because of the humidity, the trees and riverbeds are covered with green moss. This area is in general untouched and the tourist level is low despite the beauty of this area. From this side are also going trails to the highest peaks of More Info
Natural Park Sierra Nevada Occidente is the most popular part located at the north west side. This is first caused by the short distance from the capital and secondly this is the side where you are able to practice ski on in total 100 km of slopes in winter and spring. Also in summer a gondola lift and chair lift can bring you up from Pradollano to an altitude of 3100 meters with or without mountainbike. There are several marked mountain bike and hiking trails.....
On the side of Valle Lecrín are some very interesting aspects to see. First the wetlands of Padul, which are listed as a natural reserved area inside the Natural Park Sierra Nevada. This area has a lot of different species of waterbirds, that live here or are on migration. Next to the park is a educational center situated. Secondly there is a large rock accumulation called Natural Monument Falla de Nigüelas. It is situated on the border of the Natura Park.....
The higher Alpujarra is for a great part situated in the National & and Natural Park Sierra Nevada. So in order to enjoy the beauty of these mountains you have a lot of oppurtunities. There are over 15 villages that are situated or have there borders inside the Natural Park Sierra Nevada. Its situation on the south is causing that the average annual temperature is 16.6 °C. The best villages to start a trip to the peaks of the mountains are Lanjarón, Capileira and Trevélez.