Bavaria, located in the south-eastern corner of Germany, is home to the country's first national park, which was founded in 1970 and extended to its present size of 243 square kilometres in 1997.
Together with the Bohemian Forest National Park adjoining it to the east, the Bavarian Forest National Park is the largest unbroken area of protected forest in central Europe. The philosophy of the National Park is to 'leave nature be', borne out by giving it free and unrestricted reign and leaving it entirely to its own devices. More than 300km of clearly marked footpaths, almost 200km of cycle routes and some 80km of cross-country ski trails offer visitors plenty of opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the national park for themselves both in summer and in winter. There is such a lot to discover on a journey through this unspoilt highland region, 95 per cent of which is covered by forest, from mysterious moorland and crystal-clear mountain streams to Lake Rachelsee, the national park's only glacial lake. Other attractions include a number of themed trails, such as the 'Watzlik-Hain', 'Schachten & Filze' and 'Seelensteig' trails, trail networks like Lusenwandergebiet and Felswandergebiet, and the ancient woodlands of Rachel-Falkenstein. A rather harsh, continental climate, long, snowy winters and substantial differences in altitude (600m to 1,453m) provide perfect conditions for indigenous species, including eagle owls, Ural owls, ravens, otters, wood grouse, hazel grouse and three-toed woodpeckers. You can see many of these animals in the wildlife enclosure near Neuschönau. The forest play area and the wilderness camp on Mount Falkenstein (the only one of its kind in Europe) offer children and young people unforgettable experiences in an unspoilt wilderness. Families can find out more about the history of the Bavarian Forest National Park, including plenty of fascinating facts and figures, at the St. Oswald Museum and the Hans-Eisenmann-Haus information centre near Neuschönau.