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Public Lands

Creating Patagonia National Park

How one magical camping trip turned into the world’s largest private land donation and the massive, spectacular Patagonia National Park


If Patagonia National Park isn’t on you bucket list, add it. Like, now.

The massive 752,503-acre crown jewel of the region is gorgeously diverse, featuring unclimbed snow-capped peaks, sparkling glacier-fed rivers and expansive golden grasslands that are home to a diverse array of threatened and endangered species, like the huemul (a.k.a. South Andean deer).

The park represents the vision of Kristine and the late Doug Tompkins, who fell in love with each other and the region during a camping date in the early 1990s. According to Kris Tompkins, they then hatched a plan to buy the land and donate it back to the people in the form of public land.

“If you buy a Picasso and you hang it in your living room, your friends can see it, your family can see it. But that’s really it,” she told CBS News during a recent segment called Postcard From Patagonia. “If you buy the same Picasso and you put it in a museum in New York City, millions of people will see that Picasso. Well, national parks are the same thing. We think it’s important that the masterpieces of a country belong to everyone.”

Learn more about Tompkins Conservation, which aspires to save biodiversity, create parks, and restore ecology, here.