Gran Paradiso National Park Hotels
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Visit Gran Paradiso National Park
The Gran Paradiso National Park is to the south-west of the Valle dAosta region of north-west Italy. It was the first National Park to be established in Italy, in 1922 and based on a region deignated for the protection of ibex in 1856.
The highest point in the park, at an altitide of 4061 metres, is the summit of Gran Paradiso mountain.
Explore the Gran Paradiso National park
It is the wilderness and beauty of the Gran Paradiso National Park that is the main attraction - it contains a great deal of stunning mountain and valley scenery, interrupted by glaciers, flower-strewn meadows and crashing streams.
The variety of landscapes is also fascinating, with and agricultural land and woodlands (both coniferous and deciduous woodlands are found here) in the valleys giving way to alpine meadows, high mountains and numerous glaciers as you increase in altitude.
The park is broadly in three valleys - Cogne, Valsavarenche and Val di Rhemes. All three of these have visitor centres* and it is the first - Valle di Cogne - which is most accessible to visitors and the most popular with walkers. The other valleys in the Gran Paradiso Park are called Orco and Soana.
* These visitor centres are helpful and have a great deal of information, both to help you make the most of your visit, and about the natural environment - be sure to visit the one closest to you before you set off exploring, since they have recommendations about the best trails to follow etc.
Several short walks leave from Cogne, and guided walks that introduce the incredible range of flora and fauna in the Gran Paradiso National Park are also available. We enjoyed the short walk that leads to the scenic waterfall at Lillaz, a little way east of Cogne. The region around Valnontey to the south of Cogne also has short walks offering easy access to the dramatic scenery.
One particular noteworthy feature of the park, between Cogne and Valnontey, is the Paradisia alpine garden. When we visited in mid-summer the range of plants and flowers was quite astonishing and a highlight of our visit.
Along with the other wildlife in the park there are also thousands of ibex, which are the 'trademark' wildlife in Gran Paradiso, although for much of the year these remain above the treeline and you may not encounter them during a visit if you remain in the valleys, although walking quietly through the higher meadows and pastures they are quite a common sight.
Other common wildlife include marmots and eagles.
The most popular activities in the Gran Paradiso National Park are hiking, climbing and, in the colder months, cross-country skiing. Note that if you wish to climb Gran Paradiso itself you should start at Pont in the Vasavarenche valley.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Aosta valley guide.