National Park Hohe Tauern
The National Park Hohe Tauern (in German spelled Nationalpark) is the largest nature reserve of the Alps and the second-largest national park of Europe - it is 1.800 square kilometres big. It includes mountain ranges along the central Alps with Austria′s highest mountain, the Großglockner (3,789 metres), some 130 square kilometres of glaciers (even though they are decreasing), several major rivers (most importantly Salzach, Mur, Isel and Möll).
The national park extends over three Austrian provinces: Salzburg (biggest share), Tirol (in English also Tyrol) and Kärnten (English Carinthia). This article focuses on the Salzburg share of the park. Entrance is free of charge. As a nature reserve, the Hohe Tauern range exists since 1981. For many years, it failed to meet the criteria of a national park and was therefore not officially acknowledged.
This changed only in 2006; until then, various economic interests such as hunting and skiing undermined attempts to make the area an official national park. The core zone with the strictest regulations includes the highest peaks of Austria and attractions like the Großglockner Hochalpenstraße. The outskirts of the National Park Hohe Tauern are more intensively used, the landscape there is shaped by traditional farming with so-called "Almen".
The German term "Alm" refers to a traditional mountain cabin that served for shepherds and other peasants during the summer season; cattle was kept in stables in the valley during the winter, whereas summers were spent at the Alm. This allowed local farmers to utilise high pastures that would not be sufficient as farmland throughout the year. Today, many Almen are run as a mix of agricultural facility and inn.
Facts & Figures: National Park Hohe Tauern at a Glance
The National Park Hohe Tauern comes with one third of all plant species that can be found in Austria, alongside with some 10,000 animal species. More facts and figures?
Here we go: There are 300 summits at an altitude higher than 3,000 metres; there are 342 glaciers within the National Park Hohe Tauern; 280 creeks; 26 significant waterfalls, including the famous Krimml waterfalls; as well as 551 Alpine lakes between 35 square metres (tiny, more a pond than anything) and 27 hectares (quite respectable). The difference in altitude between the lowest and highest spot in the Nationalpark Hohe Tauern is 2,600 metres, which only adds to the diversity.
There are several information facilities in the National Park, as well as major visitor centres: The biggest in the Salzburg share of the park can be found in Mittersill. Others are in Hollersbach and Rauris. Note the ones of Tyrol in Matrei and Jakob in Defereggen; and the Carinthian one in Mallnitz.
Via these visitor centres and other information spots and in collaboration with the local tourist information centres of the 29 communities within the park, there are all sorts of events organised: Guided tours, hiking advice, open days at research facilities, family events. All tourist information centres in Salzburg will be able to look at events currently scheduled for the park, it is worth asking.
National Park Communities
The following municipalities have shares in the Salzburg part of the National Park Hohe Tauern: Muhr, Krimml, Mittersill (visitor centre!), Wald-Königsleiten, Neukirchen am Großvenediger, Bramberg am Wildkogel, Hollersbach, Uttendorf - Weißsee, Kaprun, Fusch an der Glocknerstraße, Rauris, Hüttschlag, and Bad Gastein.
Official website - opens in new window
Travel Information for the National Parks of Austria
More touristy information - opens in new window
Information on the region of the national park - opens in new window