Risnjak National Park
Risnjak National Park is a tremendously charming place where you can see the beauty and splendor of Croatia that close. Although the medieval towns and beaches are fantastic places to visit, hiking through the mountains of this park is perhaps the best way to get a feel for what makes this country so superfantasterifical.
Risnjak National Park is situated 30 km from Rijeka and occupies the area of about 64 sq.km. The coastal towns have excellent road connections with Risnjak. The park can be easily reached by the road from Zagreb to Rijeka. Lodging facilities and small hotels can be found in the area.
The park's name supposedly comes from the Croatian word ris (lynx). According to one more interpretation, it is derived from the local word risje, (a type of grass). The area around Risnjak was proclaimed a national park in 1953 due to the efforts of the botanist Ivo Horvat.
The relatively small area of the park includes all the main types of forest in Gorski kotar. More than 4000 different plants, with some rare species being edelweiss, the black vanilla orchid, have attracted botanists from all over the world to Risnjak since 19th c. As for the wild life of the park, it is extremely rich in variety. The thick forests are inhabited by such animal species as the brown bear, deer, roe-deer, chamois, wolf, fox, etc. Among the numerous bird species (over 50) one can spot capercaille, grouse, sparrow-hawk and owl. Butterflies, insects and snails are also in abundance. The marvelous river Kupa is home to many fish species, the most important of which are brown trout and grayling.
The unavoidable destination for most people who come to enjoy the park's natural wonders is Veliki Risnjak, the highest peak on the territory of the park. The botanist Josip Schlosser, who explored this area in 19th c., built a mountain house lodge on its southern slope, which is now open to visitors from early May to the end of October. One can get to this peak only on foot, either from the town of Crni Lug or from an unpaved road in Gornje Jelenje. The second highest peak in Risnjak National Park is called Snjeznik (1506 m). It takes about 1.5 hours to reach it from the ski resort of Platak. One more peak which reaches the dazzling height is Guslica, situated about an hour's walk from Snjeznik. Those who are interested in history would probably wish to have a look at the abandoned Yugoslav People's Army complex situated there.
Moreover, there are some natural attractions outside the park that cannot be left unvisited, including Lokvarska cave, which stretches for 1,000 m and drops 140 m down, 90 m Zeleni Vir waterfall, and the Cicarija Mountains, which separate Istria from the rest of the country.
The park would be most appreciated by all those who can't live without hiking, mountaineering, trekking, mountain biking, and skiing. Risnjak has four major hiking trails that take in the greatest peaks. Hardcore hikers can take up the challenge to traverse the Rijeka Mountain, which can be accomplished in seven days. Those who are into recreational fishing should visit Risnjak National Park from April to the end of October.
Next time you plan your trip to Croatia, you are strongly recommended to schedule in a visit to this fabulous place.