Midway between the cities of Colón  and Concordia, 8,500-hectare Parque Nacional El Palmar offers a backward glimpse of what Entre Ríos  and adjacent areas of Uruguay and Brazil looked like before 19th-century farming, forestry, and cattle altered the ecology of the native yatay-palm savannas. Although Syagrus yatay remains in substantial numbers here and its reproduction has improved since the park’s establishment in 1966, its population structure is uneven—some individuals are more than 200 years old, but “middle-aged” trees are few.
The unnatural clusters of older specimens caused by grazing livestock give real character to the park’s surviving savannas, but they are not its only attraction. Along with the gallery forests along the Río Uruguay and its tributary creeks, they provide ample habitat for mammals, birds, and other wildlife.
There is also unwelcome animal life: About 3,000 European boar, introduced for hunting in the 1930s, inhibit the yatay’s reproduction by consuming fallen seeds (there is now a program to reduce the boar population by hunting). Introduced for similar reasons, the axis deer (native to India) competes with native cervids.
El Palmar is an 8,500-hectare unit 360 kilometers north of Buenos Aires  and 50 kilometers north of Colón  via RN 14; it is 50 kilometers south of Concordia via the same highway. Except for a small information center at the highway turnoff, all services are 11 kilometers east.
The park takes its name from the yatay, which grows up to 18 meters in height with a diameter of 40 centimeters. The most conspicuous mammals are the innocuous semiaquatic carpincho (capybara, the world’s largest rodent, weighing up to 60 kg), and the chinchilla relative viscacha, once abundant but now reduced in numbers. Wild boar (a European introduction responsible for habitat damage), foxes, and raccoons are also common.
The ostrich-like ñandú or rhea races across the savannas, but the wetlands and gallery forests are also home to cormorants, egrets, herons, storks, caracaras, kingfishers, parakeets, and woodpeckers. The most conspicuous reptiles are the large nocturnal toads that invade the campground showers and toilets; bites from the highly venomous yarará, a pit viper that reaches upward of two meters, are rare, but it deserves respect in its savanna habitat.
Near the Los Loros campground, beaches along the Río Uruguay draw swimmers and boaters, but hikers and cyclists can enjoy Paseo Arroyo los Loros, a better wildlife-watching area northwest of the campground (rental canoes and bicycles are available at the campground store).
Five kilometers southwest of Los Loros, a gravel road leads across the savanna to Arroyo El Palmar, a Río Uruguay tributary that’s also one of the best areas to see the yatay palms that give the park its name. There’s a fine swimming hole here.
The nearest hotels are in the cities of Colón  and Concordia. El Palmar’s only accommodations are at shady Camping El Palmar (tel. 03447/42-3378), which has showers, a grocery, and a confitería for simple meals. Campers pay a one-time fee of US$2.50 per tent plus US$2.50 pp per day.
At the park entrance, immediately east of RN 14, rangers collect an admission fee (US$2 for Argentines, US$4.50 for foreigners).
Across from the campground, the APN operates a Centro de Interpretación (tel. 03447/49-3053, elpalmar [at] apn [dot] gov [dot] ar, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. daily). In addition to permanent natural history displays, it offers videos on park attractions and ecology.
RN 14 goes directly past the park entrance, so any north- or southbound bus between Colón  and Concordia will drop passengers there, and even long-distance buses may do so. There is, however, no public transport over the 11 kilometers from the park entrance to the visitors center and camping area. Hitching is feasible, as are remises from Colón or Concordia.