The Nature Park Karwendel comprises almost the entire Karwendel massif and is the largest protected area in Tirol with an area of 727 km². The nature park has an above-average proportion of natural habitats such as primeval forests and wild rivers and is home to a large number of animal and plant species significant to Europe, such as golden eagle, white-backed woodpecker and lady’s slipper.
Nature park of the year 2020
The Nature Park Karwendel has been named Nature Park of the Year 2020 by an independent jury of experts consisting of representatives of the Federal Environment Agency, the Alpine Pearls, the University of Vienna, the Environmental Education Centre and ORF Carinthia. The Nature Park Karwendel scored 129 out of a maximum of 150 points in the evaluation of the sectors nature conservation, recreation & tourism, environmental education, regional development and public relations.
From the hunting grounds of Emperor Maximilian to Austria’s largest nature park
The Karwendel mountains can look back on a long historical development of human use. In addition to alpine pasture farming, which has been documented since the 12th century, hunting played a major role and was first documented in 1420. The most famous hunter was undoubtedly Emperor Maximilian (1459-1519), who valued the Karwendel especially because of the abundance of chamois. Even today hunting plays an important role, and there are still aristocratic game tenants.
Nature reserve since 1928
Established as a nature reserve in 1928, the Karwendel Nature Park is one of the oldest protected areas in Central Europe. At the beginning of the nature conservation movement, the focus was mainly on the protection of individual flowers and animals, but today it is more about the preservation of the entire biodiversity and natural processes. A stronger collaboration among stakeholders is also reflected in the tasks of today’s protected area management and ranges from classic nature conservation projects such as replanting trees on the Ahornboden to environmental education and a wide range of nature excursions for visitors and locals.
Rich in stones
What is a constant battle against the forces of nature for those who maintain the alpine infrastructure, is the epitome of wilderness and unspoilt nature for visitors to the Karwendel. The large talus fields meander down from the mountains like grey giant snakes, and while they lie absolutely peaceful in summer they set into motion during heavy summer rain and bring new material “from the top” again and again. Another geological peculiarity is without doubt the oil shale which has been mined in the Bächental since the 1950s and processed into high-quality cosmetic products.
Out and about in the Karwendel
A nature park with the size of the Karwendel has numerous access and entry points. From Lake Achensee, the park is typically accessed via the Falzturn or Gerntal. Both are accessible by toll roads. However, there is still enough space for hikers and mountaineers who want venture a little deeper into the Karwendel, for example to the Lamsenhochhütte or over the Plumsjoch into the Risstal.