Unspoilt Nature. A Park. Unique Treasures.
The picturesque Ötztal Nature Park covers a protected area of 510 km². Therefore it is Tirol’s second biggest Nature Park. Starting at 774 m above sea level on Lake Piburger See, the Park stretches up to 3774 m tall Wildspitze peak, Tirol’s highest mountain. Between the entrance to the valley and its rear end visitors find five Info Points. An absolute must for hiking fans hungry for knowledge.
Welcomes all visitors and guests: Hohe Mut Alm © A. Vorauer
Facts about glacier-topped giants
This summer will be a truly outstanding one in the Ötztal Nature Park. In July, a new – the fifth – Nature Park Info Point will be installed on the valley’s uppermost floor, opposite the Rotmoostal and Gaisbergtal glaciers. It revolves around the eternal ice of the Ötztal Alps in the course of time and climate change.
Thomas Schmarda, managing director of the Nature Park, has fired my curiosity to take a closer look at the new, fifth information point inside Hohe Mut Alm at about 2600 m above sea level.
“A separate room of about 130 m² on the lower floor of Hohe Mut Alm hosts an interesting multi-media exhibition focusing on high Alpine glacier and climate research,” he mails, “as well as on archaeological facts and the ecological footprint in terms of climate change.”
Impressions of the glacier world
Okay, finally I know what people do at the research station in the village outskirts of Obergurgl. It is a branch of Innsbruck’s University called “Obergurgl University Center” and hosts an Alpine research station deeply rooted in tradition.
The research specialists also give their input into the Nature Park Info Point: the high Alpine habitat of humans, plants and animals in the eternal ice. Glacial recession. Wonders of the eternal ice. Visitors will receive detailed information on all this and a lot more at the new information point.
Research spot: Obergurgl’s University Center
© Alexander Lohmann / Ötztal Tourismus
An Overview of Ötztal
Forests, meadows, waterfalls: a true heaven for nature lovers © Uwe Fischer / Ötztal Tourismus
A couple of years ago, Thomas showed me the very first Nature Park Info Point in Ambach at the entrance to the Ötztal. It is linked to the Ötztal Tourismus Information Office and makes a perfect spot to collect some brochures and to purchase the Ötztal Card. The Info Point gives an overview of Ötztal’s beautiful nature treasures on a lifelike relief displaying the entire Nature Park. Visitors can recall information about 60 places of interest with the help of laser technology. Here you perceive nature with all senses. Smell the scent of typical Ötztal wood types or feel the special characteristics of stones spread all over the five terraces of Ötztal.
20 square meters packed with knowledge: Ötztal for all senses
© Naturpark Ötztal
Landscape art plus learning potential
Central valley. A futurist building at the edge of the Horlachtal parking area in the idyllic mountain village of Niederthai near Umhausen: Is it a monument? An abstract art installation? These are exactly the questions my Nature Park Guide Thomas is expecting.
He answers quickly: “We have intentionally installed open-air Info Points in public areas of Niederthai and Gries near Längenfeld. They have an eye-catching effect and invite visitors to explore the scenery and to take a closer look at the information panels.” Bronze reliefs of the surroundings. Touching typical local stones. Graphics. Information boards. Alpine plants.
A huge range of detailed information is displayed on only 20 m² at the Niederthai and Gries Info Points – including also sitting areas. Nature lovers can learn many interesting things by answering questions or scanning QR codes. So we leave Niederthai with heaps of new knowledge about the huge primeval rockslide in Köfels some 8700 years ago.
Rushing white water details
Landscape art objects are the latest trend in the Nature Park. At the Info Point in Gries (parking area), close to the hiking area in Sulztal valley, I sit down and enjoy a rest in the quite eccentric landscape furniture. Listening to the murmuring waters of the Fischbach and Winnebach Alpine brooks. Admiring the bronze relief that displays the surroundings from a bird’s eye view.
Reading the information panels, I get to know more about naturalistic features and cultural highlights: metal-framed boxes show plants, animals, grass and flowers growing close to the mountain brooks. Stones with strange grooves formed by glacial polish.
Touch and understand nature: glacial polish and water veins
© Naturpark Ötztal
Parish House at the entrance to Vent
© Bernd Ritschel / Ötztal Tourismus
Home of the Glacier Priest
Around 1860, Ötztal’s tourism started in the mountaineering village of Vent. Invented and founded by the then priest Franz Senn. The local mountain farmers were extremely poor and grateful for the new income.
The priest installed walking paths and hiking trails for mountaineering guests. The first Alpine refuge huts were built. Vent is located at almost 1900 m above sea level, therefore its Info Point is protected by a roof. In a location in style: the Old Parish House at the entrance to Vent. On the first floor you’ll find an exhibition area showing historical details on the beginnings of alpinism, sheep drives and Ötzi – The Iceman as well as descriptions of the local fauna and flora.
Nature Park expert Thomas Schmarda reveals another interesting highlight: “To top it all, a central Nature Park House will be erected in Längenfeld. But this project might take a bit.” Until then Nature Park fans have enough attractions to explore.
(Cover image: © Thomas Schmarda / Ötztal Tourismus – Naturpark Ötztal)
Nature Park Info Point In Ambach
Guest Author Isolde von Mersi
Isolde von Mersi comes from South Tyrol’s Pustertal Valley / Val Pusteria and lives in Vienna now. As a popular reporter and book writer for Austrian and German magazines and publishing houses, she explores a huge variety of cultural, culinary and naturalistic treasures of the Alpine countries and its people.
She has been feeling at home in the Ötztal for many years already as she contributes to the ÖTZTAL MAGAZINE on a regular basis. And she has found many friends in the valley.
© Peter Knögler
The new 2017 ÖTZTAL SUMMER MAGAZINE gives a wonderful insight into the Ötztal Nature Park. The photographer and writer Bernd Ritschel describes the “Profession: Hiking Guide” while the Alpine journalist Stefan Herbke takes readers on a journey to the “Glittering Beauties”, Ötztal’s high Alpine lakes. You want to know more about all highlights? This print magazine contains the most interesting and entertaining stories about Ötztal’s spring, summer and autumn season. Available in German, English and Dutch at all Ötztal Tourismus Information Offices. Order a free copy or read the online version at www.oetztal.com.
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