While the great glacial masses of the last Ice Age receded in southern Patagonia, various plant and animal species began to colonize it. The conditions were then given for humans to gradually inhabit the great plains of patagonian steppe. These first inhabitants arrived more than 10,000 years ago.
The Tehuelches were the last natives to populate the present province of Santa Cruz. Their tribal groups of nomadic habits migrated through the steppe between the coast and the mountain range, mobilized mainly by the hunting of their food: the guanaco and the choique. There are no traces of important settlements of the Tehuelches people in the area of El Chaltén, mainly, because of their beliefs, they avoided living on this particual region of forests and mountains. It was them who named “Chaltén” to the mountain (Whose meaning is steaming mountain or blue mountain). Later the expert Pascasio Moreno baptized with the name of “Fitz Roy” in 1877. After the gradual occupation of Spanish settlers from the seventeenth century and the genocide known as the "Campaign of the Desert" initiated by General Roca in 1879, a few Tehuelches survived marginalized by society until they disappeared forever in a few decades.
In 1881 Argentina and Chile signed the treaty known as the Boundary Treat to give solution to the political conflict originated by the demarcation of the border between both countries, after their independence from the Spanish rule. In this treaty it is established that the border boundary is defined by "the highest peaks of the Cordillera (Andes mountain range) that divide the slopes". Unfortunately this criterion could not be adjusted to the complex orography of the previously unknown southern Andes. In order to explore this unknown mountainous region, the governments of Argentina and Chile created the Commissions for the limits, but their conclusions did not favor any agreement and the discrepancies continued.
In 1937 Los Glaciares National Park was created to protect one of the remnants of the last great glaciation: an extensive sub-Antarctic mountain range defined mainly by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, contiguous native forests, part of the steppe and A great native biodiversity. Mount Fitz Roy is one of the points that determine the northern limit of the National Park..
Salesian missionaries arrived in Patagonia from Italy in 1887. From 1932 one of them, Alberto DeAgostini, mobilized by a personal interest in geography and geology, began to explore the area of El Chaltén. The photographs of his numerous expeditions by the unknown and enigmatic Andes reached Europe and aroused great interest in the climber environment. Then begins an era of great alpinistic conquests in the area. From 1937 began to arrive the first sport expeditions with intention to climb the summits of the zone of El Chaltén. El Chaltén (Fitz Roy) summit was first reached by French Guido Magnone and Lionel Terray in 1952. The slender Cerro Torre received several expeditions that -for decades- tried unsuccessfully to reach its summit, until in 1974 the Italians Ferrari, Conti, Chiappa and Negri succeeded.
In 1965 an armed confrontation takes place in the area of Lago del Desierto between National Gendarmerie (Argentina) and Carabineros (Chile) that puts in front page the dispute of the demarcation of the border that was originated a century ago. In 1985 the Argentine government made the political decision to create El Chaltén town at the confluence of the rivers De las Vueltas and Fitz Roy, 37 km from the Lago del Desierto. Finally, in 1994 an international jury fails in favor of Argentina the sovereignty of the Lago del Desierto. Many of the streets of El Chaltén are named after numerous immigrant pioneers who arrived in the area at the beginning of the 20th century, mostly from different parts of Europe.