Gran Paradiso National Park – the first national park in Italy

Covering an area of almost 70,000 hectares, the Gran Paradiso National Park is the first national park established in Italy. The park is filled with numerous valleys and mountain peaks that range from an altitude of only 800 meters above sea level to a peak of 4,061 meters above sea level. The park receives its namesake from the mountain peak that looms over the countryside.

The lower portions of the region are green and fertile while the uppermost areas are covered in glaciers that are still receding since the end of the last ice age. As these glaciers continue to recede, they leave behind ice cold streams that make their way down the slopes of the mountains and into the valleys below.

One of the more popular attractions in the Gran Paradiso National Park is that of the Sanctuary of Saint Besso. The sanctuary was built at the top of a 2,000 meter tall cliff that overhangs the valley below. The villages of Cogne as well as Val Soana are situated at the foot of this cliff and every year on August 10th, the climbers climb up the face of the cliff to celebrate in the sanctuary.

Gran Paradiso National Park photo
Photo by Miche & Jon Rousell

On the upper slopes of Gran Paradiso, Gran Paradiso national park

The area is also filled with several plateaus. The most notable of these is the Piano del Nivolet which can be found at an altitude of 2,500 meters above sea level. Here there are a number of small lakes, marshes and bogs that feature a thriving ecosystem. You will also find the Dora di Nivolet meandering its way across the plateau.

There is an ancient road that runs through the Gran Paradiso National Park and leads up to the Lake Djouan where the famous hunting lodge known as Orvieille can be found. From here the view of the surrounding countryside is simply breathtaking.

Many people who visit the Gran Paradiso National Park chose to head out to the Vittorio Sella Mountain Hut. To get there, you will need to take a tour from the town of Valnontey and cross the slippery surfaces of a receding glacier. There are permanently attached steel cables to hold on to as you make your way to the mountain hut.

Gran Paradiso National Park photo
Photo by Miche & Jon Rousell

Summit view from Gran Paradiso, Gran Paradiso national park

Every year, countless people make their way to the Gran Paradiso National Park to explore the many wonders that this ancient park has to offer one. The old towns and castles in the area are commonly visited. There are also a number of archaeological sites that can be found throughout the area.

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