Karwendel Nature Park

Experience nature in the Karwendel Nature park – Austria’s largest nature park


Between the River Inn and the River Isar

The Karwendel Nature Park is located between the River Inn and the River Isar, Lake Achensee and the Seefelder Senke lowlands. It is a conservation area with plenty of sites of special interest.
The Karwendel Nature Park is home to beautiful scenery of international significance, all of which is located right on the doorstep of the Tyrolean people.

It could hardly be any closer! The Karwendel Nature Park is home to the only primeval alpine landscape of its kind in Europe, including features such as the maple trees at Kleiner and "Großer Ahornboden", the Tortal Valley with the highest sheer rock walls in the Karwendel Nature Park, and its very own "Grand Canyon", the "Vomperloch".

Surface area:
The Tyrolean section of the Karwendel Nature Park covers 730 km2, while the adjoining Bavarian conservation area often referred to as the Karwendel mountains and foothills accounts for another 190 km2. In total, the two parks cover approx. 920 km2.

The Karwendel Nature Park is:
- One of the largest conservation areas in the Eastern Alps covering an area of approx. 920 km2
- The largest conservation area in Austria
- The largest conservation area in Tyrol (730 km2)

Due to its topography and climate, the Karwendel Nature Park has a higher than average proportion of natural habitats such as forests and wild rivers, and boasts an exceptionally high level of biodiversity.

Many animal and plant species typical of the Alps, such as golden eagles, sandpipers and the German tamarisk (a riparian forest plant), have a significant presence here. Due to the importance of its natural habitats, the Karwendel Nature Park is also a member of Natura 2000, a European network of conservation areas which was set up to preserve Europe's natural heritage.

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Nature Watch - package deal

Nature Watch enables you to experience eagles in flight at close quarters, near enough to see their individual feathers, while your expert guide imparts all the key facts.

More information on Karwendel Nature Park nature reserve

The Karwendel Nature Reserve is part of the Karwendel mountains, located mostly in Tyrol and to a lesser extent also in Bavaria. The reserve has a total area ofapproximately 543 km² and forms the core of Karwendel Nature Park, which also includes the protected areas of the Bärenkopf, the Falzthurntal and Gerntal valleys, the Großer Ahornboden, the Martinswand, Solstein and Reither Spitze, Nordkette and Vorberg, the reserves at Eppzirl and Achental West, and the small conservation areas of Martinswand and Fragenstein.
As an independent massif, the Karwendel mountains are bordered by the Inntal Valley between Zirl and Jenbach to the south. The other natural borders of the Karwendel mountains are the Seefeld saddle to the west, the River Isar to the northwest, Walchenbach to the northeast, and the Achensee lowlands to the east.

The mountain chain is made up of four separate mountain ranges:
- The Inntal Valley and Solstein mountains to the south. The highest peak is the Kleiner Solstein (2,637 m).
- The Gleirsch - Halltalkette. The highest peak is the Großer Bettelwurf (2,725 m)
- The Karwendel main ridge / Hinterautal - Vomp Chain including the Birkkarspitze (2,749 m), the highest peak in the Karwendel mountains
- The Northern Karwendel Chain. The highest peak is the Östliche Karwendelspitze (2,537 m). To the east, this mountain range is subdivided into the Falken Group, the Gamsjoch Group, the Sonnjoch Group, and the Rappenspitz and Stanserjoch Group.

The Karwendel foothills, of which the northern parts are located in German territory, are formed by the mountains in the Sojern Group (2,259 m), the Schafreiter and Mondscheinspitz Groups (2,105 m) and the Juifen and Hochplatte Groups.

More details about Halltal Valley:

Location: The Halltal Valley is bordered by the Haller Zunterkopf (1,966 m) to the south, the Stempeljoch and Stempeljochspitze (2,543 m) to the west, and the giant Lafatscher (2,696 m), Lafatscherjoch, Speckkarspitze (2,621 m) and the Kleiner and Großer Bettelwurf (2,650 and 2,726 m) to the north.

Landscape: The valley is dominated by the steep southern slopes of the Bettelwurf, with the limestone ledges of the Wetterstein Mountains perched at angles of almost 40°. The ledges contain bizarre towers formed by suspended breccia rock. The slopes are largely unforested, which lends the narrow valley a distinctly alpine character.

Accessibility: There is a toll road into the district of St. Magdalena. Countless wide forest trails and paths lead off the main road.

1. A mixed mountain forest rich in yew trees is located below St. Magdalena (in the Eibental).
2. A rare type of suspended moor caused by cool air is located between St. Magdalena and the Herrenhäuser administrative buildings. This type of moorland, which has only ever been found in Austria, is caused by cold air escaping from the surface of blocks of stone, coarse debris and landslide deposits. The condensation stimulates the growth of a variety of mosses, in particular peat moss (sphagnum). The area remains unforested due to the unique site conditions, and is populated mainly by alpine plants.
3. Immediately after the bridge over the Halltalbach stream on the way to Bettelwurfhütte alpine hut, there is a small area of rock debris in which the protected lady's-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) is growing. The yellow and brown flowers that measure up to 8 cm in length have a pouch that traps insects. They can only escape via the staminode, where they are forced to collect sticky pollen.
4. In terms of cultural history, the salt mine in Halltal Valley is of significant interest. Visitors can find out more in the Mining Museum located near the Herrenhäuser administrative buildings, complete with display mine gallery.
5. Issanger at the end of the Halltal Valley.
This area enjoys an idyllic location and diverse habitats. It is home to marshland, wetlands and fens, in addition to larch meadows and pockets of forest containing alpine rose. This unforested area is especially striking in summer, when it is transformed into a colourful floral habitat packed with:
Willow gentian (Gentiana asclepiadea) European globe flower (Trollius europaeus) Great burnet (Sanguisorba officinalis)

Several varieties of wild orchid also grown here (Dactylorhiza maculata, D. majalis, Traunsteinera globosa) along with the fragrant orchid (Gymnadenia conopsea). Wetter areas are dominated by sedges (Carex davalliana, C. elata and C. panicea), marsh horsetail (Equisetum palustre) and cotton-grass (Eriophorum latifolium). This habitat is also home to countless amphibians.

Avalanches have formed forests of larch and mountain pine at the head of the Isstal Valley, with alpine meadows and rocky outcrops perched above them.
Source: Karwendel Nature Park