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Beyond Marmot and Chamois - The Nationalpark Berchtesgaden

Majestic, wild and beautiful – „King“ Watzmann (2.713m) thrones above the Berchtesgadener Land and proudly overlooks his empire: the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden. High mountains, deep valleys and crystal-clear alpine rivers mark this nature reserve which is situated on the border to Austria.

As early as the 19th century, the well-known writer Ludwig Ganghofer praised the extraordinary beauty of this alpine world with the words: “Whoever God loves, he lets fall into this land…”.

Today, the protection of nature is the highest priority and there is a lot to explore for visitors of all age groups!


Leave Nature to Nature!

The Nationalpark Berchtesgaden is a natural observe as you would find it in a fairytale: Rich on untouched nature and soothing for its visitors.

The unique alpine landscape is characterized by an extraordinary variety of habitats for flora and fauna. Between the fjord-like lake Königssee (603m) and the Watzmann’s summit (2.713m), almost all vegetation zones are represented in a condensed space of only approximately 210 km².

Bilder © Nationalpark Berchtesgaden

Main Habitats in the Nationalpark

From the bottom of the Königssee through thick forests over blooming alpine pastures and up to rough peaks: The four main habitats of the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden could not be any more different. Divided into three main valleys (Königsseetal, Wimbachtal and Klausbachtal), many curiosities are to be found there.

The Wimbachtal, for example, is a unique feature of the national park. A gigantic flow of weathered rocks shapes this landscape. Many thousands of tons of rocky material are transported towards the valley by rainwater every year. Because the so-called “Gries” is in constant movement, only a few types of plants can hold foot there. Amongst these are some very rare varieties.

In the maintenance zone of the Nationalpark, there are a total of 25 alpine pastures that are still operated today. Alpine pastures are man-made habitats where diversity of species (biodiversity) is particularly pronounced. Controlled grazing of cattle prevents the area from becoming overgrown – an important contribution to the diversity of the landscape and its species.

Far above the alpine pastures dominate alpine meadows and mountain pine fields, which provide habitats for further species despite extreme climatic conditions. Golden eagles, chamois, as well as numerous lichens and cushion plants require good adaptability to live in this environment.

Bilder © Nationalpark Berchtesgaden

The History of the Nature Reserve

The need for protection of this natural wealth was recognized in 1910 when a 83km² large area was designated to the “Pflanzenschonbezirk Berchtesgadener Alpen (Plant Protection District Berchtesgadener Alps)”– one of the first alpine nature reserves in the world. In 1921, the area was expanded to 200 km² and placed under protection under the name "Königssee Nature Reserve". 

The Nationalpark Berchtesgaden was then founded in August 1978 with its main goal being the protection of nature.


Options for Visitors

Hikers and nature lovers can access a 260km long network of marked and signposted trails and alpine tours. From gentle walks in the valley to multiple-day high-alpine tours, there is something for everyone. There are various options for food and drink as well as accommodation in the mountain areas. During the grazing period, many huts in the alpine pastures offer homemade delights.

Bilder © Nationalpark Berchtesgaden

The Nationalpark Center “Haus der Berge (House of the Mountains)” – The Gate to the Alpine Nationalpark

The “Haus der Berge” first opened in May 2013 and acts as the gate to the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden. Here you can find important information and tips prior to or after a visit to the Nationalpark. A visit to the “Haus der Berge” perfectly complements any activities in this unique natural reserve, which is Germany’s only alpine Nationalpark.

The exhibition “Vertical Wilderness” expands over a space of approximately 1000m². Here you can take a tour through the entire spectrum of life found in the Nationalpark Berchtesgaden. The journey begins at the bottom of lake Königsee and leads through the different habitats of Water, Forest, Alpine Pastures and Rock, up to the peaks of Berchtesgaden’s alps. In the habitat Rock you can experience the highlight of the exhibition: A 12-minute-long nature film projected onto a 11x15m screen inside the mountain-view glass cabinet. No visit is like another – the orchestration of light and sound produce different room impressions depending on the season, and so every tour is a unique experience.

Guided Tours and Events in the Nationalpark

You can explore the Nationalpark your own way or opt for one of our guided tours. The Nationalpark Berchtesgaden offers a varied hiking program with fixed schedules throughout the year – no booking needed and free of charge. Why not accompany one of our rangers by the Königssee or observe bats, marmots, and golden eagles under expert guidance?

Young visitors are catered for with various youth and family programs. For those who are interested in learning more about the Nationalpark and its life, there are botanical and geological tours as well as excursions to the four main habitats: Water, Forest, Alpine Pastures and Rock.

The current program schedule can be found at any Nationalpark – and Tourist Information Centers. All information about tour and educational programs can be accessed at