Stelvio National Park

The Stelvio National Park, established in 1935, covers an area of 134,620 hectares, making it the largest park in Italy located in the center of the Central Alps. This park encompasses the entire Ortles-Cevedale mountain massif.

Information about Stelvio National Park

History of the national park

Stelvio National Park was established in 1935, and in 1977 its area was expanded to 130,734 hectares. It is named after the municipality of Stelvio in South Tyrol and the homonymous alpine pass. Within its expanse, there are extensive forests, agricultural areas, mountain farms, homesteads, and inhabited villages. The park’s management is overseen by a consortium comprising the Ministry of the Environment, the Province of Bolzano, the Province of Trento, and the Region of Lombardy. The management committees of Bolzano, Trento, and Lombardy form part of an administrative board that also includes scientific and environmental personalities.

Stelvio National Park

In September 2009, it was agreed that the park’s management would be transferred to the Region of Lombardy, the Autonomous Province of Trento, and the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, with the creation of a steering committee composed of 7 members. However, this change in management has generated controversy, with accusations of relaxing the park’s protection regulations in the province of Bolzano, potentially opening it up to hunting, the use of forest roads, the creation of ski facilities, and real estate speculation, endangering the conservation of the natural habitat. In March 2011, President of the Republic Napolitano did not validate the Law Decree sanctioning the management change of the Park, referring it to the joint committee of the 12. In July 2014, another proposal was presented to dismantle the park, despite the opposition of the Ministry of the Environment.

Stelvio National Park borders the Swiss National Park of Engadine to the north, the Adamello Regional Park in Lombardy to the south, which is connected to the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park in Trentino, and the Tessa Natural Park to the east.

This park is the largest protected area in Italy, holding great significance for Italians and, along with the Vesuvius National Park, it is one of the most visited.

Park Landscapes

The landscape of the national park stands out for the preservation of untouched alpine areas along with cultivated zones that date back centuries. Here, we can appreciate lush forests, green mountain meadows, alpine transhumance practices, and in the valleys, remnants of rural structures are preserved, such as old factories, sawmills, and mills.

Thanks to the diverse morphology of the terrain, the park hosts a wide variety of ecosystems rich in flora and fauna.

How to get to Stelvio National Park

Stelvio National Park in South Tyrol extends from the valleys of Vinschgau/Val Venosta to the valleys of Ultental/Val d’Ultimo and Martelltal/Val Martello. It is accessible year-round and can be reached by both public transport and private vehicle. Nearby urban centers include Meran/Merano and Bozen/Bolzano.

Recommended Excursions and Activities

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What to See and Do in Stelvio National Park and its Surroundings

Stelvio National Park borders the Swiss National Park of Engadine to the north and the Adamello Regional Park in Lombardy to the south, which is connected to the nearby Adamello-Brenta Natural Park in Trentino. To the east, the Tessa Natural Park extends.

Hike to Spot Alpine Animals

Trail to spot animals in Stelvio National Park in Italy

This exciting hike starts at Fontanino di Celentino in the Monte Valley, where you will find a convenient parking lot. From here, follow the forest road that will take you to Malga Giumella and then take the CAI-SAT trail no. 124 that will lead you to Malga Paludèi (2,106m). Continue your hike on trail no. 110 and then take trail no. 141, which briefly ascends the Piana valley and then descends to Lagostèl. Along the route, you can spot typical alpine animals while passing by old charcoal kilns. A unique experience in the heart of nature.

Prato allo Stelvio

Prato allo Stelvio (Prad am Stilfserjoch in German) is an Italian municipality with around 3,695 inhabitants, located in Val Venosta, in the autonomous province of Bolzano, in Trentino-Alto Adige. Besides being a residential community, it also functions as a common market.

Montechiaro Castle Prato allo Stelvio

The municipality is composed of the villages of Prato, the capital (including the Agumes area), and Montechiaro (Lichtenberg). Although its name suggests a proximity to the Stelvio Pass, it is located about 20 kilometers downstream, at an altitude of 915 meters above sea level, in the valley floor of Val Venosta.

Much of Prato allo Stelvio’s territory is included in Stelvio National Park, highlighting the untouched nature of the Ortles group slopes and the protected environment of the Solda stream delta at its confluence with the Adige, known as "Arena di Prato," which hosts a varied and rare birdlife.

The name "Prato allo Stelvio" derives from the Latin term "prata" meaning "meadows," first recorded as "Prada" in 1187. In 1953, the name was changed to Prato Venosta, only to revert to its original designation the following year.

Among the points of interest are the ruins of Montechiaro Castle (Burgruine Lichtenberg), an ancient 12th-century castle located in the village of Montechiaro. Additionally, the Aquaprad Visitors’ Center, a modern museum structure in the town center, is dedicated to the knowledge of ichthyofauna and the aquatic environment of the province of Bolzano, featuring 13 large aquariums with the fish fauna of South Tyrol.

As for religious buildings, the Church of San Giovanni and the Church of the Holy Trinity in the locality stand out.


Stelvio is an Italian municipality with a population of 1,153 inhabitants, located in the autonomous province of Bolzano.

The municipality’s territory encompasses two side valleys of Val Venosta: Val di Solda and Val di Trafoi. Here are some of the highest mountains in the Eastern Alps, such as Ortles (3,906 m above sea level), the highest peak in Trentino-Alto Adige. At the foot of Ortles is the second highest road pass in Europe, Stelvio Pass (2,758 m above sea level), crossed by the national road 38.

Stelvio offers multiple options for skiing, with four ski resorts in total (two in Solda, one in Trafoi, and one operating in summer at Stelvio Pass).

The name Stelvio dates back to periods before the Roman era and has evolved over time. Religious architecture in the municipality includes the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the parish church of the town of Trafoi, and the Church of Santa Geltrude, which serves as the parish church in Solda.

Pradera Stelvio

Prato allo Stelvio, as its German name indicates (Prad am Stilfserjoch), is located near the Stelvio Pass, though it is actually about twenty kilometers away. This place is very popular among tourists visiting Stelvio National Park, as it is a central point, easily accessible and close to all the main mountain groups in the region.

The municipal capital, Prato, is located in a beautiful plain surrounded by lush nature. Here is the Aquaprad Visitors’ Center, an important center of Stelvio National Park dedicated to the aquatic world. Near Prato allo Stelvio flows the Solda River, and the center houses a lake aquarium that recreates the living conditions of Lake Caldaro, showcasing the main fish species inhabiting it. Additionally, various activities related to the world of lakes and rivers are offered.

Besides its connection to the aquatic environment, Prato allo Stelvio is known for its wood furniture industry and the cultivation of the renowned Val Venosta apples. These economic activities contribute significantly to the life and identity of the local community.

Trafoi and Stelvio Pass

Trafoi and Stelvio Pass

Trafoi, a hamlet of the Stelvio municipality, is located on the southern Tyrolean slope of Stelvio Pass, along the state road that crosses it. This picturesque village is the last one before reaching the summit of the pass, offering access to the magnificent landscapes of the region. You can explore these landscapes by ascending by car, motorcycle, or bicycle, provided you are prepared for it.

Trafoi’s origins date back to the Middle Ages, first mentioned in the 14th century, although its continuous population was established from the 16th century. In the village, the Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary stands out, immersed in the green meadows of the Stelvio slopes. Additionally, the Hotel Bella Vista, managed by the Thöni family, is a notable point of interest. This family, resident in Trafoi for five hundred years, has turned the hotel into a museum dedicated to Gustav Thöni, an alpine skiing legend, winner of four World Cups, five gold medals in world championships, and one in the Winter Olympics.

Near Trafoi, you can also visit the Sanctuary of the Three Holy Springs, located at 1,607 meters above sea level. This sanctuary, built in the 13th century and renovated in the 18th century, is another historical and religious point of interest in the region.

Carlo Donegani Historical Museum

Carlo Donegani Historical Museum

Owned by Banca Popolare di Sondrio, it is located on the Lombard shore of Stelvio, in Bormio, and is dedicated to the engineer Carlo Donegani (Brescia, 1775 – Milan, 1845), famous for having designed the road that climbs the Stelvio Pass, connecting Bormio with Trafoi.

The museum details the history of Stelvio Pass, with three sections: one dedicated to the road, narrating its birth, design, and construction (it was inaugurated in 1825 and is considered one of the most extraordinary civil engineering works in Italy’s history), one about the Great War, with objects and panels illustrating the events of World War I that occurred near Stelvio, and another about events, especially sports. The museum is located near Stelvio Pass and opens in summer, coinciding with the road’s opening.

Messner Mountain Museum Ortles

Messner Mountain Museum Ortles

The Messner Mountain Museum Ortles is located at a notable altitude of 1,900 meters above sea level, in Solda, in Val Venosta, on the slopes of Mount Ortles, which from a Tyrolean map of 1774 has been referred to as the "End of the World." It is one of the six locations of the Messner Mountain Museum, founded by the renowned mountaineer Reinhold Messner. The other locations are spread across different areas of Alto Adige, such as Castel Firmiano, Castel Juval, Forte Monte Rite, Brunico, and Plan de Corones.

This museum is specifically dedicated to the theme of ice, which is a fundamental part of alpine experiences. In addition to displaying information and artifacts related to ice and mountaineering, it also presents paintings of landscapes in Alto Adige and views of Mount Ortles.

The Messner Mountain Museum Ortles is situated in an underground space designed by Venosta architect Arnold Gapp. This main museum area is conceived within a hill, next to the farmhouse that Messner restored and transformed into a company farm with a restaurant. This restaurant offers typical Himalayan specialties, among other dishes, providing visitors with a unique culinary experience.


Peio, Val di Sole

Peio, located in Val di Sole and Stelvio National Park, is one of the most well-known destinations in the Trentino region and a highly appreciated vacation spot. It is mainly notable for its thermal waters, found in the Pejo Spa, open both in summer and winter. Additionally, it is recognized for its ski resorts, including the Pejo3000 Skiarea, which is situated at an altitude of three thousand meters above sea level, making it one of the highest in the Alps.

In the historic center of Peio Paese, be sure to visit the beautiful 14th-century Church of San Giorgio, which boasts an impressive bell tower and notable frescoes by the painters Giovanni and Battista Baschenis. The Church of San Rocco is also noteworthy, with its peculiar architecture that includes a pronaos covered by a roof and an interior with a single nave with a cross vault.

Additionally, in Peio Paese, there is the Peio 1914-1918 Museum, which narrates the events of World War I that took place in these heights, providing a unique perspective on local history. In summary, Peio offers a unique combination of history, natural beauty, and opportunities to relax and enjoy outdoor activities year-round.

Natural Area of Peio

The natural area of Peio, unique within Stelvio National Park, offers an exceptional opportunity to observe deer and roe deer in their natural environment. Located in Runcal, along the provincial road connecting Peio center with Peio Fonti, this reserve provides a comfortable and accessible experience for those wishing to enjoy the region’s wildlife.

In this wildlife area, visitors can explore the "House of Deer," which serves as a Visitor Center and information point. Here, you will find informative panels and interactive devices that offer a detailed and accessible view of the life and characteristics of the animal species inhabiting Stelvio National Park. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the local fauna and enjoy the natural beauty of Peio in a protected and educational environment.


Solda, Val Venosta, Italy

Solda, a charming village in the upper Val Venosta situated at 1,906 meters above sea level, is primarily recognized as a prominent ski resort. However, in summer, it also becomes a popular destination due to the beauty of its landscapes. Additionally, it is an important mountaineering center, as the ascents to Mount Ortles, a landmark mountain of the region, begin here.

In Solda, visitors can explore the Altepfarrkirche, the old parish church with roots in the 14th century, although its current structure dates back to the 17th century. Additionally, the village hosts the small Ortles Region Museum, offering a fascinating look at local history and culture.

From the center of Solda, visitors can enjoy pleasant walks through the surrounding meadows, along its lakes, or delve into the coniferous forests that can be explored on foot. These hikes provide the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy the serenity of this beautiful alpine environment.

Santa Caterina Valfurva

Santa Caterina Valfurva, Italy

Santa Caterina Valfurva is recognized by ski enthusiasts as a renowned resort for both alpine skiing and cross-country skiing. Its challenging slopes have hosted numerous World Cup and European Cup competitions, as well as world championships in cross-country skiing and Nordic combined. Additionally, it has hosted the women’s alpine skiing world championships in 1985 and 2005.

The resort is a must-visit destination for those visiting Stelvio National Park with the intention of practicing their favorite winter sport. The ski season typically extends from November to April, thanks to its location at the valley’s end, which guarantees an ideal cold climate for skiing for several months.

However, Santa Caterina Valfurva is not only popular in winter. In summer, it transforms into a perfect destination for sports enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy pleasant walks among flowers and forests, occasionally stopping to admire rare plants or to observe alpine fauna in their natural habitat. It’s a enriching experience that allows you to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of the Alps year-round.

Martello and Martello Valley

Martello, Val Venosta, Italy

Martello, a charming village in the lower Val Venosta, stands out for its uniqueness: all of its approximately 900 inhabitants are native German speakers. Besides its fascinating linguistic composition, the village offers tourist attractions such as the churches of Santa Valburga and Santa Maria alla Fonderia. The latter is notable for being a pilgrimage destination and for its picturesque forest location.

However, Martello is best known as a starting point for exploring the Martello Valley, a region famous in ancient times for cattle breeding and strawberry cultivation. The valley is a paradise for hikers, with trails of varying difficulties catering to both beginners and experts. Additionally, it is a popular destination for cross-country skiing enthusiasts, with some of the most beautiful tracks in the region.

Monte Cevedale, located in this area, is also appreciated by ski mountaineering lovers due to the exciting opportunities it offers. In summary, Martello and the Martello Valley are must-visit destinations for those seeking to enjoy alpine nature and outdoor activities in a tranquil and picturesque setting.

Fort Venini

Fort Venini, Italy

Fort Venini, located in Oga, Valdisotto, is one of the best-preserved World War I fortifications in Europe. Built between 1908 and 1912 to protect the alpine passes of Valtellina from the threat of Austria, the fort has been restored and converted into a museum since 2003.

This museum narrates the history of the two world wars and offers a glimpse into what life was like in the fort. Its interior is divided into several rooms, including the soldiers’ quarters, which had a basic level of comfort thanks to room heating. Additionally, the fort’s water tanks are preserved in the basement. Fort Venini also organizes temporary exhibitions on various topics related to history and military life.

Flora of Stelvio

Alpine plants in Stelvio National Park, Italy

Nature enthusiasts will discover a wealth of botanical species in the park, including some very rare ones like the ranunculus glacialis, which grows at over 3,500 meters altitude, and the soldanella pusilla. Each area is adorned with diverse and colorful flora.

In the altitude range of 1,000 to 2,000 meters, conifer forests dominate the park’s environment. The most common species is the Norway spruce (Picea abies), although isolated groups of silver fir (Abies alba) can also be found, mainly in Val di Rabbi, the Trentino area of the park. These forests extend along the slopes, gradually diminishing towards the upper limit, where the larch (Larix decidua) and the Swiss pine (Pinus cembra) gradually replace the Norway spruce.

Above the conifer forests is the zone of dwarf shrubs, which grows above the tree line, around 2,600 meters. From 2,800 meters onwards, the landscape changes to rocks, scree, perpetual snow, and glacial moraines, where plant life is limited to some highly specialized pioneer species, such as lichens.

The park also features special environments like peat bogs, wetlands characterized by highly specialized flora that includes carnivorous plants like the round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia) and the alpine butterwort (Pinguicula alpina). These plants compensate for the lack of nitrogen in the soil by capturing small insects. Rare species like the Paludella squarrosa, a bryophyte with a circumpolar-arctic distribution, can also be found in some areas of the Alps between Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige.

Fauna of Stelvio

Fauna of Stelvio National Park

Throughout the park, numerous species of alpine fauna can be found. In the dense forests, herds of deer and fawns can be spotted, while at higher altitudes, you can find chamois and ibexes in the valleys. Additionally, the area is populated by foxes, marmots, stoats, and squirrels. A great diversity of birds, such as ravens, woodpeckers, capercaillies, owls, and golden eagles, also make their home here.

The park showcases a wide variety of forms and ecosystems, with marked altitude differences, ranging from 650 meters above sea level to 3,900 meters on the glacial peaks. Within its terrains, you can find a remarkable diversity of wildlife, including deer, chamois, roe deer, ibexes, marmots, foxes, stoats, squirrels, hares, badgers, and weasels. Additionally, wolves, lynxes, and even bears from the nearby Adamello Brenta Natural Park have been sighted.

The park area is home to a wide variety of birds, many of which nest there. These include the rock ptarmigan, black grouse, alpine chough, common raven, woodpecker, capercaillie, buzzard, sparrowhawk, owl, and golden eagle. Thanks to a successful reintroduction project, the bearded vulture can also be spotted. The park not only provides refuge for a wide range of animals but also contributes to protecting and caring for endangered species.

Geography of Stelvio


Most of the peaks of the Ortles Alps are within the park. The main ridge begins at the Stelvio Pass, the second highest pass in Europe, connecting Bormio with Trafoi. It rises towards numerous peaks above 3,500 meters, such as Punta Thurwieser, Gran Zebrù, and Cevedale, culminating with the peak of Ortles. From this ridge, secondary ridges separate important valleys. Other notable peaks include Monte Zebrù, Palon de la Mare, Punta San Matteo, Monte Vioz, Punta Taviela, Pizzo Tresero, and more.


The park is centrally located in the Rhaetian Alps, south of the main chain of the Alps. It is surrounded by a vast amphitheater of peaks that divides Lombardy to the west from Trentino-Alto Adige to the east. It extends from the mountain bases to the peaks of the Ortles-Cevedale group, presenting a variety of biomes and natural environments, from grasslands to tundra, spruce and larch forests, and rocky walls with perpetual snow.

Valleys of Stelvio National Park that can be visited

Several alpine valleys are located within Stelvio National Park:


A serene alpine corner where crystal-clear waters and green slopes create a setting of tranquility and untouched natural beauty.

Gavia Valley

This valley is characterized by its wild and rugged landscape, offering spectacular views and challenges for adventurers and nature lovers.

Braulio Valley

Famous for its peaceful environment, this valley is surrounded by high peaks and hosts rich biodiversity as well as historical fortifications.


With its vast green landscapes and natural hot springs, Valdidentro is a haven for those seeking relaxation and contact with nature.

Fraele Valley

This valley is distinguished by its impressive medieval towers guarding the entrance and its tranquil lakes lying within.

Livigno Valley

A paradise for winter sports and hiking, Livigno combines pristine nature with a vibrant local life and duty-free shopping.


A tranquil valley that stretches along the Adda River, famous for its picturesque villages and fertile farmlands.

Viso Valley

Here, time seems to stand still amid the mountains that surround landscapes of overwhelming beauty, ideal for hiking and reflection.

Grande Valley

Spacious and full of light, this valley offers stunning panoramas and is a popular destination for cycling and nature excursions.

Val Cané

Small and charming, Val Cané is an oasis of calm with stunning waterfalls and forest trails that invite exploration.

Trafoi Valley

Surrounded by alpine giants, this valley is the ideal starting point for ascents and hikes, offering unique views and a mystical atmosphere.

Solda Valley

This valley attracts visitors with its glacial landscapes, rich mining history, and opportunities for skiing and mountaineering.

Martello Valley

Known for its orchards and clear waters, this valley offers a mix of agricultural culture and access to challenging mountain routes.

Val d’Ultimo

This valley stands out for its unique cultural heritage and ancient water mills, surrounded by dense forests and impressive mountains.

Val Venosta

Famous for its apples, this valley offers a contrast between arid mountains and fertile valleys, with a rich history and medieval castles.

Val Zebru

A tranquil and secluded refuge, ideal for those who love tranquility and hiking in search of pristine landscapes and pure mountain air.

Val di Peio

This valley is characterized by its impressive natural parks, healing thermal waters, and proximity to alpine glaciers.

Val di Rabino

Offers charming rural landscapes, with hiking trails that traverse dense forests and alpine meadows.

Best Time to Visit Stelvio National Park in Italy

Stelvio is impressive in winter for those who love skiing, but in summer it is truly exceptional for everyone, both adults and children. During the summer months, the views are truly wonderful and leave a lasting impression. You can check the weather here before starting your trip.