Risnjak Park


mountain_tree_pines_283337_l.jpgRisnjak National park is a hilly, wooded park of forests and mountains, much like the interior of Croatia and the Balkan region. Mountains define the inland area of Croatia as it stretches in toward Bosnia and Risnjak Park is one of the most popular places to enjoy those mountains.

Risnjak became a national park in 1953 on the strength and popularity of its hiking trails, mountain climbing and diversity of forest wildlife. Brown bears, wolves, wild boars, wild cats and deer can be found in the park, as well as the Ris, a lynx-like cat whose presence in the park earned Risnjak its name.

There are several common sense rules to abide by in the park, all aimed at preserving the rich natural beauty of the mountain. Simply staying on the paths and hiking trails and leaving nature, in nature makes it easy to abide by all of them.

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Risnjak Park also has an interesting geologic history. The park’s rocks are mostly limestone and dolomite with “karst” features add dynamic rock constructions to the mostly mundane rocks throughout the rest of Croatia. Outcroppings, sinkholes, tunnels and caves are all part of the geology of Risnjak and spelunking or “cave diving” is a popular recreation option as well.

The most famous caves in Risnjak is the Lokvarska cave, a 1000 meter long cave descending 140 m down through stalactites and stalagmites, but there are several others. The caves are technically outside of the park’s boundaries, but are near enough that they are worth seeing on the same trip.

If interested in other nearby attractions, the source of the river Kupa is nearby as well. A half-hour’s walk from the village of Razloge, the 50 m wide blue pool is a striking emerald color and consists of two separate channels each running deep, deep deep below the surface of the water. If you bring your fishing pole to the pool, you can try to hook both brown trout and grayling.

Getting to Risnjak is an easy task. From Zagreb, drive an hour southwest toward the Istria peninsula on the A-1 highway and take it to the Rijeka to Zagreb highway. The park is about 15 kilometers from the highway and you’ll need to buy tickets for your visit at the entrance to the park.