If you love hiking and are visiting Gran Canaria, the Roque Nublo hike is the one thing you just have to do. It is a combination of a nice, but not too long, trail and stunning views along the way. And once you reach the top plateau, the view will be even better. Especially if you are planning a sunset hike.
Roque Nublo means ‘Clouded Rock’ or ‘Rock in the Clouds’, and when I hiked there for the second time to see the sunset, I got to experience why it has this name. And despite the clouds, it was one of the most impressive sunsets I have seen in my entire life.
In this hiking guide, you will learn all you need to know about this hike ranging from what the trail is like, how to get there, the best time to tackle this trail, and what to know if you want to turn it into a sunset hike. This great hike will make you want to pack your hiking boots and hit the trail!
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About Roque Nublo
Roque Nublo is a volcanic rock with a height of 67 meters and its top is at an altitude of 1.813 meters, which makes it the third-highest point of Gran Canaria.
This natural monument is close to the center of the island and became a natural space in 1987 and the Parque Rural del Nublo in 1994. It is an old Gran Canarian pilgrimage site and one of the biggest natural crags in the world.
Roque Nublo has formed around 4.5 million years ago when it used to be a volcanic plug of the Tejeda volcano. It is made of red basalt.
Hiking to Roque Nublo is one of the best things to do in Gran Canaria. As you hike, you have a stunning view over the Caldera de Tejeda and can marvel at rock formations and the sparse vegetation consisting of replanted pine wood & scrubs like scotch broom and sage.
Once you have seen and hiked to it, you will know why there are songs about it including ‘Altar de mi tierra maga’(eng. ‘Altar of my mystic land’) by Néstor Álamo.
The Roque Nublo hiking trail
There are different hiking routes that lead to Roque Nublo and one of them starts at ‘Pico de las Nieves’ viewpoint. However, the most popular Roque Nublo hike starts at ‘La Degollado de la Goleta’.
The trail to Roque Nublo leads you through a pine forest, over lava flows, and then the moon-like landscape of the upper plateau on which Roque Nublo is located.
There are no facilities except for a truck that sells soft drinks and snacks at the trailhead, so ensure that you have everything you need before you start your hike.
The beginning of the trail is a wide path and in great condition. However, you should watch where you are going, as there are rock lines in the path and some of the rocks stick out a bit which makes it easy to stumble if you do not watch where you are going.
If you look to the left around the halfway point of the trail, you will see small caves called ‘Cueva Nubla’. There is a steep trail leading up to them if you want to check them out. Doves live in some of the smaller caves, so be aware of the fact that they might suddenly exit their nests as you approach.
You are now really close to ‘El Fraile’ (the monk), a 1713 meters high rock formation that resembles a monk wearing a monk’s robe. However, it is easier to see it once you are a little bit further up the trail.
The hiking trail marked on Google Maps ends too soon. The actual trail continues, so do not turn around when the google maps route ends. (I’ve seen people do it.) Walk up the incline to your left. While some parts of this incline are slippery due to small rocks, getting up is much easier than it looks as long as you have proper footwear.
Once you have reached the top of the incline, you’ll see a trail marker according to which this specific location is called ‘DGDA Roque Nublo’ (altitude 1709 m). After this point, you have to walk up a path that has been carved into the ground until you reach the plateau.
The plateau itself is known as ‘Tablon del Nublo’ and walking over it feels like exploring a moon-like landscape. There is very little vegetation on the plateau, but in spring wildflowers tend to bloom in some spots.
Once on it, you will have a clear view of Roque Nublo and the smaller ‘Roque de la Rana’ (‘frog rock’) right next to it. Walk around the plateau and enjoy the view. Depending on where you are standing, you can spot different towns including La Culata, see the Chira dam, and of course also the nearby Roque Bentayga. And if the weather is good, you can also see Mount Teide in the distance.
Note: There is a smaller rock near the beginning of the plateau right at the cliff. Do not climb on it and jump on it as doing so is just a Darwin Award waiting to happen.
There is a loop trail around Roque Nublo that adds 1,6 km to the hike, so contemplate adding it to your hike if you want to see more of this stunning area.
Watching the Sunset from Roque Nublo
If you want to watch the sunset from Roque Nublo, it is best to start your hike around an hour before sunset. This way, you get the chance to hike up while it is still light and you get to see the sky change colors once you have reached the plateau.
The best place to see the sunset from Roque Nublo is to the left of the natural monument. Walk towards the Roque Nublo and then climb down a bit to reach an outcropping. There is also a rock on which people like to sit, but I only recommend sitting there if you have a good sense of balance and are not afraid of heights. You can spot the popular rock by looking through the triangle-shaped natural window just before Roque Nublo.
Climbing the natural monument
Aside from hiking to the foot of this natural marvel, experienced climbers can also climb to its peak. There are ten climbing routes on Roque Nublo and some on Roque Rana. Please only attempt the climbs with proper gear and if you know what you are doing.
My Roque Nublo hikes
I first hiked to Roque Nublo on my second day in Gran Canaria, during a time that locals called ‘El Infierno’. It was incredibly warm even as we reached the top or rather the foot of Roque Nublo.
It appeared to be the perfect place to watch the sunset, but we were staying in Las Palmas, so we decided it was best to leave before it was dark as none of us felt comfortable tackling a curvy drive on an unknown road at night.
But based on that experience of our first Roque Nublo hike, we decided to hike there again only two weeks later. This time with the intention of watching the sunset from this elevated point with an astonishing view over the surrounding area.
And the sunset was beyond belief. We were even able to see Mount Teide in Tenerife. However, ‘El Infierno’ was clearly over, and even wearing two pairs of pants did not help fight the cold. It was a completely different experience than two weeks before, and I would have loved to have a thermos can of hot tea as I was taking photos of the sunset.
And then the cloud that had previously circled about Roque Nublo decided to descend on us and the wind pushed icy particles into our faces. I was incredibly glad that I had brought a head torch for the way back as it would have been impossible to see anything otherwise. And yet, I would do it again and again.
Based on that I can only encourage you to bring thick pants, a waterproof jacket, a head torch, and maybe even a hot drink if you want to see what might just be the best sunset view in Gran Canaria.
Best Time to hike Roque Nublo
The Roque Nublo hike is a great hike year-round. However, the trail can get crowded during the high season, so it is best to come early to ensure that you get a parking spot.
When I hiked to Roque Nublo in early September, there were plenty of free parking spaces just before 7 PM, and two weeks later, there were even fewer cars around 8 PM. Therefore, there is a good chance that you do not have to worry about finding a parking spot if you plan to hike to Roque Nublo just in time to see the sunset.
Hiking to Roque Nublo in the morning also has the benefit that there will be fewer clouds in the morning. The entire island is located in the trade wind zone, so there is northeastern wind with humid air. Throughout the day the moist air starts to form clouds in areas with an altitude between 1000 m and 2000 m. This includes the area around Roque Nublo, and if my second hike taught me anything, it is that you do not want to be up there when the clouds descend on this natural monument.
How to get to Roque Nublo
The easiest and most convenient way to get to the Roque Nublo trailhead is by car. Therefore, you should at least consider renting a car for a day so you can add this amazing hike to your Gran Canaria itinerary. There are many other great places to see in the island’s mountainous center, so I recommend turning the day into a Gran Canaria road trip day.
If you do not want to rent a car, getting to the Roque Nublo hike means an additional hike, as there is no bus stop right at the trailhead. The three best options are to take a bus to Cueva Grande, Ayacuta, or the Cruz de Tejeda bus stop.
The distances between the trailhead and the bus stops are as follows: Cueva Grande bus stop – 8,6 km; Ayacata bus stop – 3,3 km; Cruz de Tejeda – 9,8 km.
The Roque Nublo hike begins along the GC-600 between Ayacata and Cueva Grande. Due to its central location, it takes around 1 hour to drive there regardless of where you are staying. The distance from Las Palmas is 42 km, 39 km from Maspalomas, and 45 km from Puerto Rico de Gran Canaria.
If you want to take the scenic road, you should drive there via Tejeda. After all, the GC-60 is one of the most scenic roads on the entire island.
The hike is located in a mountainous area with many curves, so it is better to stay nearby if you want to watch the sunset and are not used to driving on mountain roads with sharp turns.
Parking at the Roque Nublo hike
If you drive to Roque Nublo, you can park for free at the ‘Aparcamiento Roque Nublo’ right at the trailhead of the Roque Nublo hike. There are two parking areas and both tend to be full during the high season, so come early to ensure that you get a parking spot.
Roque Nublo hike difficulty
The Roque Nublo hike is a 3,1 km long return hike with an altitude gain of 155 m, so it is a rather easy hike if you are moderately fit. It should take around 30 minutes to hike to Roque Nublo. Therefore, it is also suitable for children and dogs.
I saw several people hiking with (smaller) dogs. Due to the drops, I recommend not taking off the leash at any point. Your dog might run off and fall down a cliff or scare another hiker who could then slip.
Looking for a more challenging hike in Europe? Read all about the Preikestolen hike in Norway.
Roque Nublo Photo Tips
Bring a tripod if you want to take sunset photos. It can be quite windy on the plateau, so a heavier tripod is better.
As the sun sets, some parts of the terrain can get quite dark, which means you will have to adjust your camera’s settings. While doing so, you want a longer exposure time to avoid having to use a high ISO that causes pixelation.
Great Photo Spots
I ended up leaving my tripod in the car when I abandoned my idea of astrophotography because it was too cloudy, and regretted it, as there is no spot that would have been an ideal ‘natural tripod’. Therefore, my shutter speed was by far not as long as I would have liked it to be.
There are two holes in the rock formation left of the foot of Roque Nublo. A smaller one frames Roque Bentayga, while a bigger triangle-shaped one frames an outcropping rock in front of the caldera backdrop. Both allow you to take stunning photos, so be sure to stop there at the end of your Roque Nublo hike.
If you want to see a natural formation that frames Roque Nublo, you have to climb to the ‘Ventana de Morro’ near the Pico de las Nieves viewpoint. This natural window is a real hidden gem of Gran Canaria and well worth the scramble to get there.
Want to know why it is important to visit hidden gems in an ethical way? Read all about Barranco de las Vacas.
What to bring when hiking to Roque Nublo
stable footwear – hiking boots are the best option if you plan to hike in the dark. It is easy to slip in some areas of the trail, so wearing them ensures that you do not twist your ankle.
a warm jacket – a waterproof one is best, but in most scenarios, a windbreaker will be fine too. Just ensure that it is thick enough as it can get quite chilly. Unless you are hiking during ‘El Infierno’ that is.
camera – You have one of the best views of Gran Canaria once you reach the top, so be sure to bring your camera.
long pants – When it is cold and windy, long pants are a saving grace.
water – enough water should be part of every basic hiking kit, so do not forget to bring enough. There are no places to get more once you have started the Roque Nublo hike. So fill up your insulated water bottle before you start hiking to Roque Nublo.
Planning to watch the sunset from Roque Nublo? Also bring gloves, a hat, a head torch or a flashlight, and a warm drink!
Where to stay near Roque Nublo
There are several nearby vacation homes in the area, so consider renting one for a few days so you can enjoy the scenic views in the area of Gran Canaria.
If you want to stay in a more luxurious hotel in Gran Canaria, you should stay at the Parador de Cruz de Tejeda. A 4-star hotel that has a swimming pool with one of the most scenic views of the entire island.
Camping near Roque Nublo
If you want to camp near the Roque Nublo hike, you can do so at the Llanos de la Pez campground or the El Corral de Los Juncos campground. Hereby, the Llanos de la Pez campground is suitable for tents and has tables, bathrooms, water, and barbecue areas. The El Corral de Los Juncos campground is for caravans and motorhomes only and has 81 plots. Bathrooms, water, and barbecue areas are on location.
Spots at both campgrounds have to be reserved in advance. You can do so online, via phone, or in person. Read all about it here. The website is in Spanish, but if you click on the flag, you will find an English translation.
Things to do near Roque Nublo
While the hike itself is more than worth the inland trip, it is not a daylong activity. Therefore, it is ideal to combine the Roque Nublo hike with other activities in the central part of Gran Canaria. Some of the best nearby places to see are:
Tejeda – Tejeda is one of the charming towns in Gran Canaria. With its historic white houses, church, and great restaurants, it is a great place to visit. Stroll through the street and grab a bite while enjoying a great view of the surrounding area.
Pico de las Nieves – Pico de las Nieves is the second-highest point of Gran Canaria, and the highest point is in the same rock formation. Therefore, visiting the Pico de las Nieves viewpoint grants you an amazing view over most of the island. While there, you can even spot the Maspalomas Sand Dunes.
Roque Bentayga – The Roque Bentayga hike is slightly harder than the Roque Nublo hike and the best thing to do in combination with the Roque Nublo hike if you want to spend an entire day hiking.
Roundup: Roque Nublo Hike
If you are a passionate hiker and love stunning views, you are bound to love this trail. While it is rather easy, it offers some minor challenges and more than rewards you with awe-inspiring views of the Tejeda caldera. So be sure to tackle this hike while in Gran Canaria even if you are only planning a relaxed resort holiday. It is more than worth it!