Kalkalpen National Park

Kalkalpen National Park is one of Austria’s most biodiverse protected areas, possessing immeasurable value for the country, both in ecological and touristic terms. It is a landscape of high mountains, deep valleys, and ancient forests, offering incredible beauty through its landscapes and unspoiled nature of the Alps.

Discover all the details about this park, the most recommended activities and excursions, its tourist attractions, points of interest, and everything you need to fully enjoy the stunning Kalkalpen.

Introduction to Kalkalpen National Park

Brief History of the Park

Established in 1997, Kalkalpen National Park has been an area dedicated to the protection of biodiversity and the study of alpine ecosystems. Its creation was a significant step towards the conservation of natural landscapes and the species they host.

Kalkalpen National Park

Ecological Importance and Conservation

The park plays a crucial role in the conservation of alpine ecosystems, hosting endangered species of flora and fauna. Its conservation programs aim not only to protect but also to educate visitors about the importance of preserving these natural environments.

Location and Geography

Kalkalpen National Park is located in the state of Upper Austria, covering an area of more than 20,000 hectares at the geographical coordinates: 47°47′24″N 14°22′25″E.

Characterized by its limestone mountains and dense forests, the park is a remarkable example of the alpine landscapes that make Austria a unique place for natural explorers.

How to Get to Kalkalpen National Park

The park is accessible by road and public transport from major cities in Austria, making it easy to explore for both local and international visitors.

With three main access points, visitors have the opportunity to explore different areas of the park:

  1. Steyrtal: This access leads to the Bodinggraben hiking area. It is an ideal starting point for those who wish to explore this part of the park and enjoy its hiking trails.
  2. Windischgarstner Tal: Here, hikers can access various hiking areas, such as Wurbauerkogel, Veichltal, Hengstpaß, and Mooshöhe. Each area offers unique landscapes and unforgettable natural experiences.
  3. Ennstal: This access leads to the Anzenbach and Brunnbach hiking areas. These areas are perfect for those who want to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Kalkalpen National Park from this region.

For those who wish to travel to the park in an eco-friendly way, it is recommended to use a combination of train, bus, and bicycle. You can arrive by train and then continue your journey by bus from the Steyr bus station to Reichraming. From there, you can explore different parts of the park by bus, including the impressive Hengstpaß area via Hintergebirge. Additionally, visitors are encouraged to bring their bicycles, as bicycle transport is free and provides an excellent way to explore the park sustainably and flexibly.

Flora and Fauna of Kalkalpen National Park

Wildlife of Kalkalpen National Park, Austria

Plant Diversity: Plant Species and Flora

Kalkalpen National Park was established on July 25, 1997, covering a total area of 210 km². Within its boundaries, there are about 200 kilometers of natural streams and around 800 springs. Most of the park, approximately 81%, is covered by dense forests, while 8% is occupied by dwarf pines, 6% by alpine meadows, and 5% by towering rock formations. The park’s biodiversity is notable, with 50 species of mammals, including 17 varieties of bats, and about 80 species of breeding birds, among which 6 species of woodpeckers stand out.

The flora is also impressive, with around 1,000 species of flowering plants, including 42 types of wild orchids, and an astonishing 1,500 species of butterflies, the largest concentration in Austria. One of the park’s most outstanding natural treasures is its ancient beech forest, one of the oldest in the entire Alpine region. The predominant types of rock in the area are limestone and primary dolomite. The altitude in the park ranges between 385 meters and 1,963 meters above sea level. The diversity of beetle species is also remarkable, with the presence of 22 relict species of primeval forests, such as the rosalia longicorn beetle and the Austrian timberman beetle, as well as unique species of cave-dwelling beetles.

In terms of ownership, most of the park’s area, around 88%, belongs to the Republic of Austria, being primarily federal forests. Only a few areas are privately owned. Of the public lands, 50% belong to the state of Upper Austria and the other 50% to the federal government of Austria. Regarding land management, 89% of the park is designated as Zone A, meaning "natural zone without intervention," while the remaining 11% is designated as Zone B, which includes managed areas such as alpine meadows and mountain pastures.

Wild flora of Kalkalpen National Park, Austria

Characteristic Fauna: Mammals, Birds, and Notable Species

Kalkalpen National Park is an important habitat for birds, being part of the Natura 2000 network. It features a karstified topography with an intricate network of gorges and canyons, as well as 470 km of pure, natural streams and about 800 springs that are biodiversity hotspots. In these springs, more than 300 different species of fauna have been discovered, including new species such as the mollusks Belgrandiella aulaei and Bythiospeun nocki (family Hydrobiidae).

As the largest forest reserve in Austria, the Kalkalpen National Park harbors rare forest associations such as Alnion glutinoso-incanae, Tilio-Acerion, and Cephalanthero-Fagion. Additionally, it is home to emblematic species like the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), and it is a crucial area for birds, with 22 species included in the European Birds Directive, as well as for native populations of brown trout (Salmo trutta), amphibians, and insects. Like the Austrian Hohe Tauern National Park, it stands out for the conservation of large animal species.

Although forestry activities have left their mark on the area, since 1997 the National Park has been under a strict management plan that prohibits any economic use. The park administration manages a water analysis laboratory and has developed a karst research program that includes spring monitoring and meteorology. This site has been designated as Ramsar Site number 1371, highlighting its international importance in terms of wetland conservation. The most recent information available dates back to 2003.

Unique Ecosystems and Habitats

The different habitats of the park, from ancient forests to alpine meadows, create a mosaic of ecosystems that are essential for maintaining biodiversity.

Main Attractions, Activities, and Points of Interest

Peaks and Valleys: Description of the Main Mountains and Valleys

The park is home to some of Austria’s most impressive landscapes, with mountains offering panoramic views of valleys, mountains, and peaks.

Wurbauerkogel Heights

At the top of Wurbauerkogel, visitors are greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the Northern Limestone Alps and Kalkalpen National Park.

Trekking Through Hengstpaß Valley

Hengstpaß Valley offers a tranquil setting with lush vegetation and winding trails leading to unforgettable vistas.

Discovering the Beauty of Bodinggraben

Bodinggraben captivates with its natural beauty, dense forests, and crystal-clear streams flowing between the mountains, inviting exploration of its hidden corners.

Peering into Veichltal

Veichltal reveals its alpine charm with green meadows and a serene atmosphere, ideal for a day of peaceful hiking and contemplation.

Adventure in the Reichraming Gorges

The Reichraming Gorges offer an exciting experience with their rugged rock formations and roaring streams, creating a scene of wild beauty.

Hiking and Cycling Trails: Recommendations for All Levels

With a network of trails stretching for hundreds of kilometers, the park is a paradise for hikers and cyclists, offering routes ranging from easy walks to challenges for the more adventurous.

Route 1: Bodinggraben Trail

  • Distance: Approximately 10 km (round trip).
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate.
  • Description: This trail takes hikers through the impressive Bodinggraben Valley, known for its dense forests, crystal-clear streams, and spectacular waterfalls. The trail offers panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and is suitable for hikers of all levels.

Route 2: Hengstpaß Circuit

  • Distance: Around 15 km.
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate to difficult.
  • Description: This circular route offers a diverse experience that includes forests, alpine meadows, and panoramic views from the heights of Hengstpaß. Hikers can enjoy the pristine nature of the park while exploring this challenging circuit.

Route 3: Veichtal Valley Bike Trail

  • Distance: Approximately 25 km (round trip).
  • Difficulty Level: Moderate.
  • Description: This cycling route follows the picturesque Veichtal Valley, passing through charming alpine villages and stunning natural landscapes. With well-maintained trails and varied terrain, it is perfect for mountain bikers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Natural Lookouts and Waterfalls

The park’s lookouts offer spectacular views of the Alps, while its waterfalls add a touch of magic to the landscape, creating unforgettable moments for all visitors.

Wurbauerkogel Lookout

Description: Located at the top of Wurbauerkogel, this lookout offers stunning panoramic views of the Northern Limestone Alps and the surrounding landscape of Kalkalpen National Park. It is a perfect spot to admire natural beauty and take spectacular photographs.

Großhinterberger Waterfall

This impressive waterfall is located in the Bodinggraben Valley and is one of the most spectacular in the park. With a drop of several meters, it offers an impressive spectacle for visitors and is a popular spot to enjoy nature.

Hengstpaß Lookout

Situated at the heights of Hengstpaß, this lookout offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains. It is an ideal place to enjoy the tranquility of nature and observe wildlife in its natural habitat.

Mountain Biking and Cycling Routes

For those who prefer cycling, the park offers mountain biking routes that wind through its forests and mountains, providing both challenge and natural splendor.

Wildlife and Flora Observation: Best Times and Places

Spring and autumn are the best times to observe the park’s wildlife and flora, when species are most active and the landscape changes color.

Winter Activities: Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

Even in winter, the park does not lose its charm, offering activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to enjoy its winter beauty.

Typical Gastronomy of the Region

The Kalkalpen region, located in Austria, has a cuisine that reflects both the influence of the Alps and the richness of local products. Here are some typical dishes you can find in this area:


This is a delicious and traditional Austrian dessert that can be found in many places in the Kalkalpen region. It consists of a fluffy, shredded pancake, usually served with powdered sugar and fruit compote, such as plums or apples.


Knödel are a type of dumpling that can be either sweet or savory. In the Kalkalpen region, savory Knödel are often filled with ingredients like spinach, cheese, or ham, and are served as a side dish or main course.


This is a typical roast pork dish from the alpine region of Austria. The pork is seasoned with local herbs and spices and slow-roasted until tender and juicy. It is usually served with side dishes like sauerkraut, red cabbage, or Knödel.


These are delicious cheese dumplings made from a mixture of flour, egg, and grated cheese. They are cooked in boiling water and then served with caramelized onions and fresh herbs.

Apple Strudel

Apple strudel is a classic dessert in Austria and is very popular in the Kalkalpen region. It consists of thin pastry filled with sliced apples seasoned with cinnamon, sugar, and raisins. It is baked until the pastry is crispy and golden and is served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

These are just a few examples of the rich gastronomy you can enjoy in the Kalkalpen region, where local food reflects the tradition and natural surroundings of the Austrian Alps.

Accommodation: Options Within and Near the Park

From luxury hotels to cozy cabins, campsites, and shared accommodations, the area around the park offers a variety of lodging options to suit all budgets and preferences.


Steyrtal is a picturesque region located in the state of Upper Austria, near Kalkalpen National Park. It is known for its namesake river, the Steyr River, which meanders through beautiful valleys and forests. The town of Steyr, with its charming old town and rich industrial history, is an important landmark in this area.

Windischgarstner Tal

Windischgarstner Tal is a stunning alpine valley located in the Pyhrn-Priel region of Upper Austria. Surrounded by majestic mountains and lush forests, this valley is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. The town of Windischgarsten is the main center in this area and serves as a starting point for exploring the valley and its surroundings.


Ennstal is a long, beautiful valley that stretches along the Enns River in the state of Styria, Austria. This region is known for its impressive alpine landscapes, charming villages, and a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Towns like Reichraming and Großraming offer convenient access to Kalkalpen National Park from Ennstal.

We hope you enjoy your visit to the fullest!