National Park Gesäuse, Styria

The National Park Gesäuse is a national park in the Austrian province of Styria. It was formally founded as a national park only in 2002 and extends over the municipalities of Admont, Johnsbach, Weng, Hieflau, Landl and St. Gallen. The total surface of the National Park Gesäuse is currently 110 square kilometres, but there are plans to extend it to finally 125 square kilometres. Almost all of the park′s land is owned by the Styrian Forest Administration. Characteristics of the park are the steep mountains with cliffs and the gorge of the Enns between the entry point and Hieflau. The altitude of the National Park Gesäuse ranges between 490 metres and 2370 metres, the summit of the Hochtor.

The National Park Gesäuse is not the most spectacular of Austria′s national parks, but it offers good hiking opportunities and even its highlights are less crowded than other Alpine national parks. There is a distinct local touch to the park. Gentle sports such as hiking are allowed and endorsed. The visitor centre of National Park Gesäuse can be found in Weng. In addition, there is a so-called National Park Pavilion with information material, a restaurant and other facilities at a look-out point that offers a stunning view on the Hochtorgruppe. In Admont, you will find a tourist information centre that provides advice on national park matters. The history of the current park can be tracked back to the 19th century.

Shaped by Early Industrialisation: National Park Gesäuse

At this time, industrialisation hit Styria and led to rapid growth. This was fuelled by the centuries of iron ore mining, trading and processing, which created perfect conditions for the emergence of new industries: Presence of raw materials, a labour force, technical know-how and established trade routes. Styria boomed and prices increased. In order to protect the region from speculative land deals, the Steirische Landesforste were founded, a government institution that purchased vast stretches of forests to administer them independently. This way, the region of the Gesäuse became public property. In 1958, the provincial government of Styria made the area a nature reserve (alongside with another region in Styria).

In 1977, Styria responded to the cross-border movement of Tyrol, Salzburg and Carinthia towards founding the National Park Hohe Tauern. There were proposals to found a National Park Niedere Tauern; several assessment studies were done, until the original plans were finally dismissed. However, various citizen movements and lobbies for and against a National Park Gesäuse developed and kept the debate alive.

In 1997, one such lobby formed that proved to be eventually successful: The "Verein National Park Gesäuse". One year later, a counter-lobby was founded. In 2001, there were several memoranda on the matter were held, none of which led to a clear result. Nevertheless, the Styrian provincial government declared the nature reserve a national park in 2003 and in the same year, the National Park Gesäuse was formally recognised by IUNC.

Back to: "Styria Sightseeing Guide"

Sightseeing by Austrian Province

Bregenz and Vorarlberg - Innsbruck and Tyrol - Salzburg - Salzkammergut - Graz and Styria - Klagenfurt and Carinthia - Wachau and Lower Austria - Vienna - Burgenland

Further Reading

Official Website National Park Gesäuse

National Parks of Austria (overview)

Official Website of Styria