Unspoilt Nature. A Park. Unique Treasures.

The picturesque Ötztal Nature Park covers a protected area of 510 km². Therefore it is Tirol’s second biggest Nature Park. Starting at 774 m above sea level on Lake Piburger See, the Park stretches up to 3774 m tall Wildspitze peak, Tirol’s highest mountain. Between the entrance to the valley and its rear end visitors find five Info Points. An absolute must for hiking fans hungry for knowledge. Among the special highlight ranks the Nature Park House in Längenfeld, which opened its doors only in 2019. It is tan information hub and the center of competence when it comes to Ötztal's nature. Rare Ötztal plants, animals and habitats are explained, as well as geological facts including the huge rockslides that shaped the valley.

Hohe Mut Alm

Facts about glacier-topped giants

The fifth – Nature Park Info Point is installed on the valley’s uppermost floor, opposite the Rotmoostal and Gaisbergtal glaciers. It revolves around the eternal ice of the Ötztal Alps in the course of time and climate change.

Thomas Schmarda, managing director of the Nature Park, has fired my curiosity to take a closer look at the fifth information point inside Hohe Mut Alm at about 2600 m above sea level.

“A separate room of about 130 m² on the lower floor of Hohe Mut Alm hosts an interesting multi-media exhibition focusing on high Alpine glacier and climate research,” he mails, “as well as on archaeological facts and the ecological footprint in terms of climate change.”

Ötztal Nature Park
Ötztal Nature Park
Ötztal Nature Park

Impressions of the glacier world

Okay, finally I know what people do at the research station in the village outskirts of Obergurgl. It is a branch of Innsbruck’s University called “Obergurgl University Center” and hosts an Alpine research station deeply rooted in tradition.

The research specialists also give their input into the Nature Park Info Point: the high Alpine habitat of humans, plants and animals in the eternal ice. Glacial recession. Wonders of the eternal ice. Visitors will receive detailed information on all this and a lot more at the new information point.

Obergurgl’s University Center

An Overview of Ötztal

Umhausen

A couple of years ago, Thomas showed me the very first Nature Park Info Point in Ambach at the entrance to the Ötztal. It is linked to the Ötztal Tourismus Information Office and makes a perfect spot to collect some brochures and to purchase the Ötztal Card. The Info Point gives an overview of Ötztal’s beautiful nature treasures on a lifelike relief displaying the entire Nature Park. Visitors can recall information about 60 places of interest with the help of laser technology. Here you perceive nature with all senses. Smell the scent of typical Ötztal wood types or feel the special characteristics of stones spread all over the five terraces of Ötztal.

Nature Park Niederthai

Landscape art plus learning potential

Central valley. A futurist building at the edge of the Horlachtal parking area in the idyllic mountain village of Niederthai near Umhausen: Is it a monument? An abstract art installation? These are exactly the questions my Nature Park Guide Thomas is expecting.

He answers quickly: “We have intentionally installed open-air Info Points in public areas of Niederthai and Gries near Längenfeld. They have an eye-catching effect and invite visitors to explore the scenery and to take a closer look at the information panels.” Bronze reliefs of the surroundings. Touching typical local stones. Graphics. Information boards. Alpine plants.

A huge range of detailed information is displayed on only 20 m² at the Niederthai and Gries Info Points – including also sitting areas. Nature lovers can learn many interesting things by answering questions or scanning QR codes. So we leave Niederthai with heaps of new knowledge about the huge primeval rockslide in Köfels some 8700 years ago.

Rushing white water details

Landscape art objects are the latest trend in the Nature Park. At the Info Point in Gries (parking area), close to the hiking area in Sulztal valley, I sit down and enjoy a rest in the quite eccentric landscape furniture. Listening to the murmuring waters of the Fischbach and Winnebach Alpine brooks. Admiring the bronze relief that displays the surroundings from a bird’s eye view.

Reading the information panels, I get to know more about naturalistic features and cultural highlights: metal-framed boxes show plants, animals, grass and flowers growing close to the mountain brooks. Stones with strange grooves formed by glacial polish.

Landscape furniture
Parish House Vent

Home of the Glacier Priest

Around 1860, Ötztal’s tourism started in the mountaineering village of Vent. Invented and founded by the then priest Franz Senn. The local mountain farmers were extremely poor and grateful for the new income.

The priest installed walking paths and hiking trails for mountaineering guests. The first Alpine refuge huts were built. Vent is located at almost 1900 m above sea level, therefore its Info Point is protected by a roof. In a location in style: the Old Parish House at the entrance to Vent. On the first floor you’ll find an exhibition area showing historical details on the beginnings of alpinism, sheep drives and Ötzi – The Iceman as well as descriptions of the local fauna and flora.

Längenfeld Nature Park House

The almost 300 m² big natural history exhibition shows Ötztal's natural diversity in all its facets in a truly unique way. Additionally, all aspects of the omnipresent theme of Ötztal waters is clearly presented - ranging from glaciers and Alpine lakes to mountain brooks and moorlands. Besides bilingual (de/en) information panels, the content was made accessible through sensory impressions, e.g. listening station, touch screens, VR glasses, hologram and digital wall relief. Exhibits in the form of true-to-original wood carvings should inspire visitors to explore and feel the special features within the valley together with certified nature guides. The nature park building also houses a shop selling regional products, a library and the nature park administration.

Highlights:

  • Multimedia exhibition
  • Digital relief
  • Interactive elements
  • VR glasses with 360-degree view
  • Listening station & fragrance station
  • Hologram
  • Wooden exhibits
  • Children's quiz
  • Shop
  • Seminar room
  • Temporary exhibition area
  • Ötztal Nature Park library (bibliography download)
  • Nature Park afternoon - every Wednesday
Nature park house Längenfeld
Guest author: Isolde v. Mersi

Isolde von Mersi comes from South Tyrol's Pustertal valley and lives in Vienna now. As a popular reporter and book writer for Austrian and German magazines and publishing houses, she explores a huge variety of cultural, culinary and naturalistic treasures of the Alpine countries and its people.

She has been feeling at home in Ötztal for many years already as she contributes to the ÖTZTAL MAGAZINE on a regular basis. And she has found many friends in the valley.

Isolde v. Mersi
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