Nature Park Karwendel

The Nature Park Karwendel begins on the western shore of Lake Achensee. It is the largest contiguous nature reserve in the northern limestone Alps, comprising over 920 square kilometres and stretching across to Bavaria.


The area rises from 591 to 2,749 metres above sea level. Its surface is made up of protected areas, landscape conservation areas and sanctuaries which are protected under the Tirolean Nature Conservation Act.

The first provisions for the protection of this unique alpine landscape – the only one of its kind in Europe – were laid down in 1928. In 1995, the European Commission announced that the Nature Park Karwendel was to be included in the Natura 2000 area. The objective of this managed system of protected areas is to safeguard the variety of species by maintaining natural habitats and also the plants and animals which live in the wild, and at the same time respect economic, cultural and regional requirements.

Hikers can roam through pristine valleys for hours on end with chamois and ibex, observe marmots, deer and hares, while birds of prey such as buzzards, glide through the air.
In the Nature Park Karwendel holidaymakers get the opportunity to soak up the seclusion of the mountains – yet they can also enjoy the convenient infrastructure which the managed Alpine pastures and mountain huts provide.

Nature Park Karwendel facts and figures:

  • 350 springs
  • 1305 plant species
  • 3035 known animal species
  • The largest population of golden eagles in the Alps
  • Surface area – 920km² (of which 727km² is in Austria, the rest in Bavaria)
  • Management – 101 Alpine pastures with around 10,000 hectares foraging area
  • Elevation profile: 600 to 2749 metres (the Birkkarspitze)

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 who carried out an the assessment of the sectors “environmental protection”, “recreation & tourism”, “environmental education”, “regional development” and “public relations”. 

The jury

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 the ORF Carinthia assessed the different sectors. Per topic a maximum of 30 points could be awarded. In total, the Nature Park Karwendel achieved 129 out of a maximum of 150 points.

Quotations of the jury
“Wide range of environmental education and well-organised junior ranger programme and sustainable measures in regional development.”
“The great enthusiasm of the volunteers must be emphasized – this is hard work for the nature park managers.”
“Taking into account its size, the Nature Park Karwendel is characterised by a very balanced interaction of the four nature park functions.”
“More than 250 nature ranger-led tours and lectures are offered per year – an absolute highlight!”

The Golden Nail in Nature Park Karwendel

Around 200 million years ago, a huge change took place in the natural surroundings, the flora and fauna underwent considerable changes and mass extinction occurred globally. This resulted in the end of the Triassic geological era and the start of the Jurassic era. This transition is still visible in many rock formations. It is especially visible on the Kuhjoch in the Nature Park Karwendel. In the summer of 2011 an oversized golden nail was driven in at this site. In technical geology jargon this golden nail is called the ‘Golden Spike’. These ‘Golden Spikes’ are already located at 60 sites all over the world, however this was the first one in Austria.
After more than 20 years of intense research, the international committee from UNESCO chose the “Golden Spike”on the Kuhjoch, at 1760 altitude, as the boundary of the two geological eras, (coordinates: N 47°29’01,82” / E 11°31’47,44”). The boundary between the Triassic and the Jurassic era denotes, with an accuracy of within one centimetre, the first occurrence of the ammonite species Psiloceras spelae tirolicum. The Kuhjoch was the area favoured for the occurrence of the above-mentioned ammonite and for other advantages, over rivals in Nevada, Peru and England. This bestowed a very special distinction upon Austria geologists, since this site is now regarded as the global reference point for all geological research referring to the transition between the Triassic and Jurassic geological eras.
However, it is very difficult for visitors to Nature Park Karwendel to access this special natural phenomenon. Therefore, the newly built trail “Golden Nail” near the Nature Park House in Hinterriß informs visitors about the global geological significance of the Karwendel.


Verein Nature Park Karwendel
Unterer Stadtplatz 19
6060 Hall in Tirol
Tel.: +43(5245)28914
More information about the Nature Park Karwendel can be found at

10.04.2020 10:31