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National Parks in Austria

There are seven national parks in Austria. These parks have a combined area of 2,376 km², which is 2.8% of the total area of Austria. They include each of Austria’s most important natural landscape types — alluvial forest, Alpine massif, Pannonian steppe and rocky valleys.

Austria’s national parks are:

  • Donau-Auen National Park
    Gesäuse National Park
    Hohe Tauern National Park — Hohe Tauern
    Kalkalpen National Park
    Neusiedler See – Seewinkel National Park — Neusiedler See
    Nockberge National Park
    Thayatal National Park — Thaya valley

Danube-Auen National Park

Photo by Friedrich.Kromberg

The Danube-Auen National Park  covers 93 square kilometres in Vienna and Lower Austria and is one of the largest remaining floodplains of the Danube in Middle Europe.

The park was designated an IUCN category II national park and spans the areas of Vienna (Lobau), Groß-Enzersdorf, Orth an der Donau, Eckartsau, Engelhartstetten, Hainburg, Bad Deutsch-Altenburg,Petronell-Carnuntum, Regelsbrunn, Haslau-Maria Ellend, Fischamend and Schwechat.

 Official Website

Gesäuse National Park

The Gesäuse National Park is a national park in the Austrian state of Styria. Located in the mountainous Upper Styrian region, it covers large parts of the Gesäuse range within the Ennstal Alps and the steep water gap of the Enns river between Admont and Hieflau. The area also covers parts of the municipal areas of Johnsbach, Weng, Landl and Sankt Gallen.

The national park currently covers 110 km², with another 15 km² planned. It was established on October 26, 2002.

The highest mountain is Hochtor at 2,369 m (7,772 ft).

Official Website

Hohe Tauern

The Hohe Tauern or High Tauern are a mountain range on the main chain of the Central Eastern Alps, comprising the highest peaks east of the Brenner Pass. The crest forms the southern border of the Austrian state of Salzburg with Carinthia and East Tyrol, while a small part in the southwest belongs to the Italian province of South Tyrol. The range includes Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner.

According to the Alpine Club classification of the Eastern Alps, the range is bounded by the Salzach valley to the north (separating it from the Kitzbühel Alps), the Mur valley and the Murtörl Pass to the east (separating it from the Niedere Tauern), the Drava valley to the south (separating it from the Southern Limestone Alps), and the Birnlücke Pass to the west (separating it from the Zillertal Alps).

Its most important parts are (from West to East):

  • Venediger Group (including the Großvenediger, 3,666 metres (12,028 ft), and Lasörling, 3,098 metres (10,164 ft))
  • Granatspitze Group (including the Großer Muntanitz, 3,232 metres (10,604 ft), and Granatspitze, 3,086 metres (10,125 ft))
  • Glockner Group (including the Grossglockner, 3,798 metres (12,461 ft))
  • Goldberg Group including the Hoher Sonnblick (3106 m)
  • Ankogel Group (including the Hochalmspitze, 3,360 metres (11,020 ft), Ankogel, 3,246 metres (10,650 ft) and Reißeck, 2,965 metres (9,728 ft))

The eastern end of the Hohe Tauern is formed by the Hafner subgroup of the Ankogel range, which includes the easternmost peaks above 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) in the Alpine chain.

Further parts of the Hohe Tauern south of the main crest of the Alps are (from West to East):

  • Rieserferner Group (Hochgall, 3,436 metres (11,273 ft))
  • Villgraten Mountains (Weiße Spitze, 2,962 metres (9,718 ft))
  • Schober Group (including the Petzeck, 3,283 metres (10,771 ft) and Hochschober, 3,240 metres (10,630 ft))
  • Kreuzeck Group (Polinik, 2,784 metres (9,134 ft))

Along 100 kilometres (62 mi) of the main chain stretches the High Tauern National Park (Nationalpark Hohe Tauern), to which the Austrian Alpine Club as freeholder and the three states of Carinthia, Salzburg and Tyrol have contributed territory. With an area of about 1,834 square kilometres (708 sq mi), it is by far the largest of Austria’s seven national parks as well as the largest nature reserve in the Alps. It is divided into a core zone including the Grossglockner and Grossvenediger massifs, with complete prohibition of agricultural use, and a fringe zone used for forestry and alpine-meadow farming. Five special nature sanctuaries are protected from any human disturbance.

The park of the IUCN II category comprises the Pasterze and numerous further glaciers, the Krimml Waterfalls, several glacial valleys and alluvial fans, as well as extended tundra areas and forests. Among the flora of the Alps, especially Swiss Pines grow along the tree line; above subshrub, mainly alpenrose but also the endemic saxifraga rudolphiana, up to nival level at about 2,800 m (9,200 ft). The fauna includes chamois, Alpine ibex and red deer, as well as griffon vulture and the golden eagle. The former extinct bearded vulture and the Alpine marmot have been successfully reintroduced.

The park was established according to a 1971 declaration signed by the participating states at Heiligenblut, it nevertheless took until 1981, when the first parts around Großglockner and Hochschober in Carinthia were put under protection. The adjacent area in Salzburg followed two years later, and Tyrol finally joined in 1992. Tourism only increased marginally since the creation of the national park, but has become less harmful to the environment. A particular emphasis is put on environmental protection and the maintenance of traditional ways of life in the Alps.

Tunnels and Passes

The Hohe Tauern are crossed by three tunnels:

Tauern Railway Tunnel between Bad Gastein and Mallnitz, finished in 1906
Katschberg Tunnel on A10 Tauern Autobahn (European route E55) leading from Sankt Michael im Lungau and the Tauern Road Tunnel to Rennweg
Felbertauerntunnel on B108 Felbertauern Straße highway, between Mittersill and Matrei in Osttirol
The best-known mountain pass road of the Hohe Tauern is the scenic Grossglockner High Alpine Road inaugurated in 1935, including a tunnel at an elevation of 2,505 metres (8,219 ft) under the Hochtor Pass (2,573 metres (8,442 ft)). East of it, the Katschberg Pass (1,641 metres (5,384 ft)) on B 99 Katschberg Straße highway parallel to the Katschberg Tunnel links Sankt Michael and Rennweg. Another road crosses the Staller Sattel between Sankt Jakob in Defereggen and Rasen-Antholz at 2,052 metres (6,732 ft).

National Park Kalkalpen Upper Austria

The National Park Kalkalpen extends over an area of 20,856 hectares.The park has been inhabited since Neolithic days,stone tools and animal bones and teeth found in a local cave are considered to be between 65,000 to 30,000 years old. From the middle ages, the region developed into an important area for iron ore trade and iron manufacturing, and although you can still see evidence as in the steel industry in Linz,the park itself has remained unharmed.The National Park Kalkalpen is a relatively new park and was only founded in 1997, it extends
across two mountain ranges at the northern end of the Alps, the Sengsengebirge and the Reichraminger Hintergebirge.The visitor centres are in Molln, Windischgarsten and Reichraming, and offer guided tours and information on the park. Other villages in the the park include Roßleithen, Rosenau, Hengstpass, Weyer, Großraming and Sankt Pankraz, all of which make a good base for exploring the area.There are many caves within the National Park Kalkalpen, more than 70 caves have been discovered, although they are not all fully mapped, some of these are ice caves and may only be visited with a qualified guide.The National Park Kalkalpen is home to many different mammals, birds, plants and reptiles.

National Park Neusiedler See-Seewinkel

In 1993 the National Park Neusiedler See-Seewinkel gained international acceptance as an IUCN Category II preserve. In 2001 the national parks in Austria and Fert?-Hanság in Hungary were together accepted as a World Heritage Site. The Neusiedler See and its surrounding areas in Austria also enjoy protection through the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

Neusiedler See

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