The Karwendel Nature Park (German: Naturpark Karwendel) is a park that covers nearly the entire Karwendel mountain range in northern Tyrol. With an area of 737 km² of mountainous wilderness, it is the largest nature park in Austria.
The Karwendel Mountains are famous for their wild and untouched landscape with craggy peaks, meadows, fenlands, and expansive pine forests. It has been preserved as a nature park since 1928, which makes it one of the oldest formally recognised nature reserves in Europe. The primordial vegetation has remained preserved, and is part of a unique ecosystem for alpine animals and plant species. Alpine ibex (German: steinbock) are wild goats endemic to the Alps, and thrive near the snow line in high mountains. Hunted nearly to extinction in the late 19th century, preservation efforts were effective, and the population has once again grown to over 30,000 in the Alps. Sandpipers, the German tamarisk, and abundance of wild orchids can be found in the region. Ancient sycamore maple trees are iconic and continue to flourish. The park is also popular with bird spotters, in particular golden eagles, owls, three-toed woodpeckers, and woodcocks are regularly encountered in the wild.
Flora and fauna
Fees and permits
As of 2022, no permits are needed to enter the park, and access is free.
- 1 Großer Ahornboden. 24/7. Meadows with ancient sycamore maple trees, some over a century old. Free.
- 2 Eng. The largest alm settlement in Europe, Eng is the only settlement in the park and only seasonally inhabited during the summer months. A visit to the small creamery is warmly recommended, where authentic methods for cheese making are demonstrated.
- 3 Hafelekar. Scree landscape that is made accessible by a cable car from Innsbruck.
- 4 Mondscheinspitze. 24/7. With an altitude of 2,106 m, the impressive Mondscheinspitze (literal translation moon shine peak) is a popular attraction for hikers. A trail leads to the top, and can be approached from the south or the east. The climb is rewarded with a fantastic panorama of the Karwendel, Rofan, and Venediger mountain ranges. If the weather is clear, the 3,000+ m tall Ziller Valley mountains can even be seen. The Mondscheinspitze is a great location to spot ibex in the wild as well. Free.