Roques de Garcia is one of the most famous natural attractions in Tenerife. Located in the Las Cañadas del Teide caldera in the Teide National Park, the otherworldly rock formations known as Roques de Garcia are a sight to behold. In particular, Roque Cinchado, which is one of the rock formations, is a freakishly unique rock landform, which attracts many visitors. On top of that, the views from Mirador de la Ruleta of Las Cañadas del Teide are sensational. In this guide, we’re not just going to talk about simply visiting Roques de Garcia. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about hiking the incredible Roques de Garcia trail.
Before reading this guide, feel free to watch our Tenerife Hiking YouTube production below. By using the chapter function, you can check out footage of Roques de Garcia and Roque Cinchado.
We hope you find this guide helpful. For information about other great hikes in Teide National Park, read our guides about Mount Guajara, Montana Rajada and the Mirador de Samara Walk. Otherwise, read our Tenerife Hiking Guide.
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Overview of Roques de Garcia (Guardians of Mount Teide)
There’s no wonder Roques de Garcia (AKA Guardians of Mount Teide and Gods of Mount Teide) has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2007. Being located in the spectacular Las Cañadas del Teide and featuring the immense Roque Cinchado, Roques de Garcia is a truly beautiful part of the Canary Islands. Indeed, you’ll need to visit this place during your trip to Tenerife.
Of course, we’d recommend going that one step further and hiking around the immense natural attraction, rather than just simply visiting and gawking at it. We’ll talk a bit more about the adventurous hike, which explores Roques de Garcia, Roque Cinchado, Mirador de la Ruleta and Las Cañadas del Teide below. Before we do so, a little history – how was this natural attraction formed?
Well, many moons ago (approx. 200,000 years ago), there was a huge volcano that towered over (and was positioned in between) Mount Teide (3,712 metres) and Pico Viejo (3,155 metres). One day, this huge volcano erupted and collapsed. This formed the caldera named Las Cañadas del Teide, which is now a volcanic passage, positioned at the base of both Mount Teide and Pico Viejo – the two highest volcanoes in Tenerife.
From these volcano eruptions and lava flow, these unusual rock formations, known as Roques de Garcia, were formed. Over time, the shapes of these rock formations have been carved by wind, rain and changes in temperature. Thanks to erosion, we now have these spectacular rock formations, such as Roque Cinchado, to enjoy. Now you know a bit more about the history of this natural attraction, let’s talk about the epic hike!
FYI – Roques de Garcia is written as Roques de García in Spanish. Roques de Garcia is also commonly known as Los (the) Roques de Garcia.
Hiking Around Roques de Garcia
There is a simple short trail that leads you around the stunning Roques de Garcia. The Roques de Garcia trail is also known as S-3 (AKA Sendero 3). Technically speaking, according to the Tenerife Footpath Network, Sendero 3 is an unapproved trail. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean hiking the trail is illegal or forbidden. It just means it doesn’t have an authority in charge to look after track maintenance, which means the trail isn’t considered as safe as approved trails. But, to be honest, Beck and I found the trail well-maintained, signposted and very safe. So, you’re absolutely fine to be walking around Roques de Garcia!
Before reading our trail description, you’ll find the trail specs and a link to a GPS-guided map below.
Roques de Garcia Hike: Map and Stats
- Type: Loop
- Distance: 4.3km
- Time: 1.5–2 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 200m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Mirador de la Ruleta
- Map: Wikiloc
Roques de Garcia: Trail Highlights and Images
To inspire you to do this incredible hike, please read our brief trail description and have a look at our photos. We did this trail around sunrise, which meant hiking during golden hour. Certainly, we recommend doing the same. Hiking around sunrise beautifully lit the Las Cañadas del Teide landscape, making for an even more spectacular hike around Roques de Garcia and Roque Cinchado.
Strictly speaking, Sendero 3 is a loop trail, circling Roques de Garcia, which doesn’t include some additional viewpoints. For the ultimate hiking experience, we recommend adding on some short out and back walks to various viewpoints along the traditional trail. We’ll include details about these additional viewpoints below.
Roque Cinchado (Stone Tree)
Basically, the walk starts at Mirador de la Ruleta. But, just before heading there, we recommend visiting two viewpoints, positioned on either side of Mirador de la Ruleta. The first viewpoint, to the right of Mirador de la Ruleta, is reached via a short and steep trail (about 100 metres in distance).
This viewpoint positions you amongst the wondrous Roques de Garcia. From this viewpoint, you’ll have some of the best views of Roque Cinchado. Also known as Stone Tree and Finger of God, Roque Cinchado is an unbelievably shaped top-heavy rock formation. Personally, Beck and I thought Roque Cinchado resembled a cartoonish cavemen’s club (but without the spikes).
After enjoying the viewpoint and before commencing the Roques de Garcia trail, we recommend heading to a second lookout. This viewpoint is located to the left of Mirador de la Ruleta and is accessible via another short and steep trail. From this vantage point, you’ll have stunning views of Roques de Garcia, Roque Cinchado and Las Cañadas del Teide. After soaking in the views, make your way down to Mirador de la Ruleta.
Mirador de la Ruleta: Views of Las Cañadas del Teide
Mirador de la Ruleta is the trailhead for the Roques de Garcia trail. From Mirador de la Ruleta, you’ll enjoy marvellous views of Pico Viejo, Las Cañadas del Teide and Mount Teide. You’ll also enjoy a great view of some of the other well-known rock formations that make up Roques de Garcia. These include La Catedral, La Cascada, El Torrotito, El Burro and Roque Blanco. All of these rock formations, you’ll soon explore and walk around by commencing the walk.
From Mirador de la Ruleta, you’ll descend a windy and rocky trail down to the base of La Catedral. The lower you climb down, the more impressive La Catedral becomes as it dwarfs over you. Near the base of La Catedral, you’ll be fully immersed in Las Cañadas del Teide, surrounded by other rock formations of Roques de Garcia. The hike then continues to the west of Roques de Garcia, with Roque Cinchado falling out of sight. This part of the trail along the Las Cañadas del Teide is relatively flat and gently meanders throughout the rocky landscape.
Eventually, you’ll reach the northernmost component of Roques de Garcia. Again, you’ll be amazed by the unique and rugged rock formations that stand tall above you. After circling around this northern tip, you’ll walk along the eastern edge of Roques de Garcia, returning to Mirador de la Ruleta to complete the circuit walk.
How to Get to Roques de Garcia in Tenerife
In terms of getting to Teide National Park to do this hike, you have three options – car, bus or tour.
The easiest and quickest way to get to El Teide National Park is to drive there yourself. If you’re visiting from abroad, you’ll need to hire a car. We recommend using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars, which are easy to book online. The free and flexible cancellation policy is an added bonus too.
In terms of Roques de Garcia parking, you have two options. You can park along the road that leads to Mirador de la Ruleta. Otherwise, you can park at the Cañada Blanca Visitor Centre. From there, you’ll simply cross the road and walk around 200–300 metres to access Mirador de la Ruleta. Both parking options are free. Personally, we parked at the visitor centre, which is where the trailhead for the Mount Guajara hike is located. We did the Roques de Garcia trail and then completed the longer and harder Mount Guajara hike afterwards.
It’s possible to reach Roques de Garcia in Teide National Park by using public transport. Titsa is the bus company that runs the 342 bus to and from the national park. The bus stops at Cañada Blanca Visitor Centre. Visit their website for the latest information about departure times, locations and costs.
If you don’t have your own set of wheels, you could think about hopping onto an organised Teide National Park tour. All tours of this nature will visit Roques de Garcia as it’s one of the main attractions of the national park. We’ve heard great things about GetYourGuide’s Tenerife: Teide National Park Full-Day Scenic Tour. The only downside is, the tour’s schedule is very unlikely to accommodate time for you to be able to do the walk around the natural attraction. But, if you’re just keen on visiting and viewing the nature site, then this tour will be perfect for you.
Are there other places of interest you’d like to visit in Teide National Park? Riding the Teide Cable Car is another popular option for tourists wanting to visit the peak of Mount Teide. Tickets for the cable car can be booked online here. This is a good option if you can drive to Teide National Park yourself. If you’re needing transport also, we recommend GetYourGuide’s Tenerife: Mount Teide Tour with Cable Car Ticket & Transfer.
FYI – with either of the above options, you won’t be able to access the crater summit. To do so, you’ll need a Pico del Teide Access Permit, which can be bought on the official website. But, unfortunately, permits sell out months in advance. The best backup option is to do an organised tour, that reserve permits far in advance. With that said, GetYouGuide’s Tenerife: Mount Teide Hiking Tour with Cable Car is a fantastic option for securing a last-minute permit.
Useful Things to Know When Visiting
Below, we’ve highlighted some of the best things to know before visiting and hiking around Roques de Garcia.
- Be sun smart: in summer, the temperatures in Tenerife are usually very dry and hot. Even though it’s a relatively short walk, make sure to pack plenty of water and wear long sleeves, sunscreen and a hat.
- Trail terrain: the trail can be uneven and rocky underfoot. Keep this in mind if you’re not an experienced hiker or have dodgy ankles or knees.
- Popularity: given the ease of visiting Roques de Garcia and Roque Cinchado, expect this attraction to be very crowded! At least, by doing the walk, you’ll escape most of the crowds.
- Signage: despite the walk being an ‘unofficial trail’, it’s still signposted and easy to follow.
Weather and Crowds: When Is the Best Time to Visit?
The best time to visit comes down to personal preference. Outside of peak season, in winter, you’ll have fewer crowds. But, in winter, the Mount Teide temperature is quite cold (-10°C to 10°C) because of its height above sea level (Roques de Garcia is around 2,100 metres). Also, the weather is less predictable in winter, so you’re more likely to experience adverse weather conditions.
During the peak season in summer, you’ll avoid the colder weather and enjoy lovely sunny days. But, with this, comes really hot temperatures, which can be difficult for hiking. Also, there will be plenty of crowds in the peak season. Perhaps, visiting in the shoulder season (March to May or September to October) means milder weather, that’s not too hot or cold and fewer crowds.
Personally, Beck and I visited Roques de Garcia and Roque Cinchado in winter in February. Yes, it was really cold when we arrive before sunrise. But, we enjoyed visiting with fewer people around.
Accommodation Near Roques de Garcia
The closest accommodation to Roques de Garcia is the highly-rated Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide. This hotel is located right next to the Cañada Blanca Visitor Centre, facing opposite Roques de Garcia. Indeed, staying at Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide would be an awesome place to stay for exploring Roques de Garcia and the surrounding Las Cañadas del Teide. Otherwise, the closest sizeable town with more accommodation options would be Vilaflor de Chasna.
Of course, where you stay will be dependent on your plans for visiting Roques de Garcia and Teide National Park. If you’re doing an organised tour such as GetYouGuide’s Tenerife: Mount Teide Hiking Tour with Cable Car, pickup is available from the south and north of the island. So, you could stay in Santa Cruz de Tenerife if you wanted to. Otherwise, most visitors stay in the south of the island, where there are more hotels, resorts, restaurants, bars and nightlife.
Maps and Books
In terms of maps, you can easily download GPS-guided maps for many walks in Tenerife from Wikiloc or AllTrails. If you’re after a Tenerife hiking book with maps, this one comes highly rated – Tenerife: The Finest Walks on the Coast and in the Mountains (Rother Walking Guide).
These are our five gear essentials for hiking at Tiede National Park.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
- Hiring a car is easiest for hiking in Tenerife: certainly, buses visit most parts of the island. But, there are some trailheads which buses don’t go to. With that in mind, a car will give you the ultimate flexibility and freedom to explore and hike around Tenerife.
- Shop at Lidl: you won’t find much in the way of food in Tiede National Park beside a cafe at Cañada Blanca Visitor Centre. If you want to take food and drinks with you, head to Lidl beforehand for decently-priced groceries.
- Another great Tenerife hiking trail to consider: we’ve heard the Taganana to Playa de Tamadite hike is an underrated walk in the Anaga Mountains.
Leave us a comment below, we’d really like to hear from you!