The unique landscape of the Gesäuse.
Dominated by the uninhibited, raging Enns River and the limestone mountains of the Reichenstein, Buchstein and Hochtor Group, the Gesäuse National Park conceals an inaccessible landscape and a special wealth of species of endemic plants, insects and arachnids. This is how the protected area truly nurtures the unique treasures of our natural heritage.
The protected area covers 12,118 ha and is the only national park in Styria.
13.4% mountain pines/shrubs
9.9% alpine lawns/pastures
0.5% bodies of water
Founded on 26th October 2002, Gesäuse National Park is the youngest protected area in Austria
With over 200 discovered endemic species, the Gesäuse is a genuine hotspot for endemics.
The unique landscape of the Gesäuse.
Rocks, mountain pastures, forest and water – the natural environment of the Gesäuse is multifaceted and dominated by extremes: from the alluvial forests at the River Enns to the highest limestone summit of the Hochtor, a height difference of 1,800 m is covered at a horizontal distance of just a few meters.
The diversity of vegetation and landscape formations is just as impressive: ranging from vegetation in rock crevices, rubble heaps, alpine meadows, groups of dwarf shrubs and fields of mountain pines to colourful mountain pastures, large, spruce-dominated woods and wild rivers.
The Enns river is a particularly dominating figure in the protected area: it creates habitats for many rare species of animals and plants on an unspoilt river section that is almost nine kilometres in length.
The fauna of the Gesäuse is extraordinarily diverse.
Multifaceted nature – diverse fauna: with its habitats of rocks, mountain pastures, forests and water, the Gesäuse National Park is home to the widest variety of animal species. In addition to numerous species of endemic insects and arachnids, chamois, golden eagles, red deer, otters, graylings, tiger beetles, dippers and grey wagtails can also be found.
The alpine marmot is actually a new inhabitant to the Gesäuse, after having moved here at the beginning of the 20th century.
The National Park territory is also a hotspot for butterflies: 1,234 species (including species protected throughout Europe, such as the marsh fritillary or the Spanish flag butterfly) have already been found.
The Megabunus lesserti Schenkel harvestman is one of 150 endemic animal species (meaning it is restricted to one specific geographic area) currently found in the National Park area. In general, arachnids are hidden from human view, given that they live in the vertical limestone rocks of the alpine levels.
The sandpiper, an especially rare species of wading bird, can be spotted on the gravel banks and islands of the Gesäuse. Due to the fact it lays its eggs well-camouflaged between the stones and rears its young there, entering gravel banks away from marked exit and entrance points is strictly prohibited.
The chamois prefer the rocky habitat but are also able to climb down into the valley. Mammals can even be spotted on the steepest rock faces in the Gesäuse National Park. During the mating season that takes place in November, bucks engage in daring pursuits in order to gain the favour of goats.
The flora of the Gesäuse is extremely rich in species.
The Gesäuse mountains nurture the often overlooked treasure of unique plants. These endemics include the highly endangered graceful common pink, the north-east alpine poppy and the subalpine Austrian bellflower.
However, the diverse, natural habitats of the Gesäuse also encourage colourful orchids to thrive. Over 50 species have been detected in the National Park and its surrounding area.
The graceful common pink can only be seen in the region between Dachstein and Hochschwab. The pink-coloured flowers of the endemic plant species can be seen from May to July and give off a pleasant, honey scent. However, interventions in its habitat mean the attractive plant is highly endangered outside of the National Park.
The protected north-east alpine poppy is also one of the endemic plant species in Styria. It can be found in the Gesäuse mountains both on the rubble heaps at the higher altitudes and in gravel channels near valleys.
The lady’s slipper orchid is the largest native species of orchid in Austria and is under strict protection. This plant is interesting, not least because of the special way in which it reproduces, which requires pollination by wild bees. Once these insects have landed in flowers that are insect traps, they can no longer leave the plant without removing a mass of pollen on their backs.
The inaccessible landscape and wild beauty make the Gesäuse a magical place for those who are hungry for adventure. Whether it be hiking, climbing, water sports or ski touring: Austria’s youngest national park is the place for you to enjoy nature in a mindful way and put your muscles to good use.
This mountain of extremes is a stark reflection of the variety and contrast of the Gesäuse’s character: hostile and yet popular, forbidding yet approachable, immoveable and fragile. This limestone giant, that is relatively easy to conquer, allows you to gain insights into the nature of the protected area. Anyone who doesn’t feel up to the hike can stay at the bottom of the valley and uncover the secrets of the mountain in the National Park Pavilion at Gstatterboden by paying a visit to the exhibition of the same name.
The “Wilder John” adventure trail invites visitors to walk along the renaturalised Johnsbach creek. This legend is one fascinating story. The history of “setting the wild river free” is made into an adventure for the whole family to enjoy. The themed trail departs from Weidendom car park, covers 3.5 kilometres (return) and is open from the beginning of May until the end of October.
Impressive starlit skies, numerous species of orchid and rugged natural beauty make the Gesäuse a hotspot for nature photography. The local photography school offers seminars, workshops and photographic walks to camera enthusiasts all year-round. During the summer months, the Gesäuse Photo Festival provides additional inspiration with numerous exhibitions and events.
Rocks, forests, soil and water have a lot of stories to tell at the Gesäuse National Park. The range of activities and information available to visitors makes sure their stories can be heard.
The Outdoor National Park Experience Centre in the middle of the protected area
The living structure of the Weidendom has taken root on the bank of the Enns river, surrounded by a unique mountain panorama. With its research workshop, diverse offers and islands of tranquillity, it takes you into the fascinating world of aquatic and terrestrial life. When using a microscope under the expert guidance of the National Park rangers, no mystery of nature is left unsolved.
National Park Weidendom Discovery Centre
(At Gasthof zur Bachbrücke: Krumau 97, 8911 Admont)
Tel.: +43 (3613) 211 60-20
As a shared information point for the Gesäuse National Park and the Tourism Association, the service point shall provide comprehensive information about adventure opportunities and tourist attractions in the region.
Gesäuse National Park Information Office
Hauptstraße 35, 8911 Admont
Tel.: +43 (3613) 21160 20
Exhibition, Infopoint and much more surrounded by a wonderful scenery
The conveniently located pavilion at Gstatterboden is the starting point for numerous (guided) walks. In addition to the information point, restaurant, sun terrace, children’s playground and shop, the building also houses an exciting and diverse exhibition on Planspitze.
National Park Pavilion Gstatterboden
Gstatterboden 10, 8913 Gstatterboden
Tel.: +43 (3613) 21160 20