Swiss National Park

Coordinates: 46°40′N 10°12′E / 46.667°N 10.200°E / 46.667; 10.200
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Swiss National Parks
Parc Naziunal Svizzer
Nearest cityZernez
Coordinates46°40′N 10°12′E / 46.667°N 10.200°E / 46.667; 10.200
Area170.3 km2 (65.8 sq mi)
Established1 August 1914

The Swiss National Park (Romansh: Parc Naziunal Svizzer; German: Schweizerischer Nationalpark; Italian: Parco Nazionale Svizzero; French: Parc National Suisse) is located in the Western Rhaetian Alps, in eastern Switzerland. It lies within the canton of Graubünden, between Zernez, S-chanf, Scuol, and the Fuorn Pass in the Engadin valley on the border with Italy. Founded in 1914, the Swiss National Park is the oldest national park in the alps and in Central Europe.

It is part of the worldwide UNESCO Biosphere Reserve[2] and has IUCN category Ia, which is the highest category, signifying a strict nature reserve. Today, the Swiss National Park has an area of 170.3 km2[3] and is the largest nature reserve in Switzerland.


The Swiss National Park covers various terrains, from relatively low valleys to high peaks. The highest peak in the National Park is Piz Quattervals, 3165 m.a.s.l, which can be reached by an alpine hike. As of 2022, this is the only National Park in Switzerland. There are plans to create more.[4][5] An Adula National Park was planned in the Adula Alps, but in November 2016 the inhabitants voted against it.[6][7]

Marmot in Val Trupchun within the Swiss National Park

In the national park, it is forbidden to leave marked paths or to sleep anywhere apart from the Chamanna Cluozza, the mountain hut in the park. Due to this there are over 80 kilometers of marked hiking paths, separated into 21 individual hikes of various distances and difficulties. Dogs are not allowed, even on a leash. Due to these strict rules, the Swiss National Park is the only park in the Alps which has been categorized by the IUCN as a strict nature reserve, the highest protection level.

Ibex similar to ones in the Swiss National Park

A visitor centre is located in Zernez. The road through the park leads over the Fuorn Pass (or Ofenpass) to South Tyrol in Italy. In addition to the Swiss National Park, there are sixteen regional nature parks in Switzerland.[8]

The Swiss National Park is home to several large animals. Visitors of the park will often hear and see alpine marmots. These may even be observed from very close up in one of the many designated resting places within the park. Other large animals include ibex, red deer, chamois, red fox, golden eagles and many more. Occasionally wolves and brown bears are also observed in the park but only rarely and these animals do not permanently reside in the park any more.[9]


After the 19th century led to a lot of the Swiss countryside being destroyed or cultivated to create space for farming in 1904 Swiss National Council Dr. Fritz E. Bühlmann[10] among others called for the creation of a nature reserve. The Swiss Federal Council created a committee to determine a suitable location for this nature reserve, and the area surrounding the Fuorn Pass was found to be best suited for this endeavour due to its remoteness from civilization and richness in flora and fauna. In 1909 supporters of the idea leased the Val Cluozza from the municipality of Zernez for 25 years. In 1913 a non-standing committee of the Federal assembly visited the Val Cluozza and afterwards supported the idea of a national park. Within the following year the region around the Fuorn Pass and the Val Minger were leased from their respective municipality and the lease of the Val Cluozza was renewed to now all last 99 years. The municipality of Zernez was increasingly supporting the idea due to the fact that the leased area had little to no agricultural potential. On the national holiday of Switzerland, 1 August 1914, the Swiss National Park was opened. Initially the costs of the lease were paid by a private company, called the Schweizerischer Bund für Naturschutz (Swiss coalition for nature protection), which today is called Pro Natura. However, when in 1913 these costs could no longer be surmounted by the private company, the Swiss Federal Government took over the costs.[11]

In 1936, the Val Tavrü was removed from the Park upon request by the municipality of Scuol. In 1959, the National Park was legally restructured. A law called the Bundesbeschluss für den Nationalpark (Federal law concerning the National Park) was passed, which among other things extended the leases indefinitely and banned high voltage lines leading through the park. In 1961, the park was heavily extended once more, now totalling 166.5 km2.

In 1964, zoologist Robert F. Schloeth was appointed director of the park. He would go on to serve in that post for more than 25 years while heavily influencing the parks' development. In 1968, during his tenure a new visitor centre was inaugurated in Zernez as was a Naturlernpfad (Nature learning hike) on the Fuorn pass in 1976.[12] It was during Schloeth's tenure as director that the park would become part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and would be classified as a IUCN category Ia.

The most recent extension of the park occurred in 2000, when 3.6 km2 the Macun Lakes and surrounding area was added to the park.[12] There was a proposition to create a less heavily regulated zone in the areas surrounding the park, which was however rejected by the public. In 2008, a new visitor centre was inaugurated in Zernez. Some of the changes in territory that the park underwent since its inception in 1909 are detailed in the table below:[13]

Map Year Total area of the park Notes
1909 25.2 km2 Original area leased by the Schweizerischer Bund für Naturschutz from the municipality of Zernez.
1914 137.0 km2 With the help of the federal government the park is able to expand majorly by adding 58 km2 from Zernez after having already gained additional territory in 1911 from the municipalities of Zernez, Scuol and S-chanf.
1932 163.9 km2 Addition of 10.7 km2 from the municipality of Zernez now adding the Val Ftur and the Champlönch to the park. Moreover, the highlands of the Val Trupchun and the Fuorcla Trupchun totalling 5.1 km2 are added from the municipality of S-chanf.
2000 170.3 km2 The last addition to the park, the Macun Lakes, once again made it disconnected. The park appears in this form ever since 2000.

Park rules[edit]

In the park, visitors have to follow strict rules. These rules are regulated in a special cantonal law by the canton of Grisons and enforced by park rangers throughout the park.[14] If these rules are not followed, the park rangers may fine visitors up to 300 swiss francs.[15] Some of the rules are as follows:

  • It is strictly forbidden to leave the marked paths as well as the resting areas marked with posts. The route of these paths is defined in cantonal law. Violating this rule will lead to a fine of 250 CHF.
  • No litter. Violating this rule will lead to a fine of 100 CHF.
  • No natural object may be picked or removed: animals, plants, sticks, stones, etc.
  • Dogs are not allowed in the Park, not even on a lead.
  • Entry in winter is forbidden.
  • No winter sports, cycling or flying of any sort are permitted.
  • Bathing in lakes, pools, streams and rivers is not permitted.
  • No camp fires. Violation of this rule will lead to a fine of 300 CHF.
  • Overnight stays are strictly forbidden, including in parked vehicles alongside the main Pass dal Fuorn road as well as bivouac.
  • Nature must be left undisturbed.
  • Flying drones of any kind is forbidden.

Hiking routes[edit]

There are 21 numbered hiking routes in the National Park, of which 3 and 4 are alpine hikes. Hike no. 4 leads on top of Piz Quattervals (3165 m.a.s.l.), which is the highest peak in the park.

Route Length
1 Alp Trupchun 9.5 km, about 3 hours
2 Fuorcla Trupchun 3.0 km, about 2 hours 15 minutes
3 Fuorcla Val Sassa 17.5 km, about 7 hours 30 minutes
4 Piz Quattervals 5.0 km, about 5 hours
5 Val Tantermozza 1.5 km, about 40 minutes
6 Murtaröl 8.0 km, about 3 hours 30 minutes
7 CHamanna Cluozza 8.0 km, about 3 hours 30 minutes
8 Murtersattel 7.5 km, about 3 hours 45 minutes
9 Margun Grimmels 3.5 km, about 1 hour 15 minutes
10 Val Spöl 8.0 km, about 2 hours 45 minutes
11 Alp la Schera 3.0 km, about 1 hour 15 minutes
12 Grimmels 6.0 km, about 2 hours, 15 minutes
13 Champlönch 5.0 km, about 2 hours
14 Punt la Drossa – Il Fuorn 2.5 km, about 1 hour
15 Munt la Schera 13.0 km, about 4 hours 45 minutes
16 Fuorntal 5.0 km, about 1 hour 45 minutes
17 Margunet 8.0 km, about 3 hours
18 Fuorcla Val dal Botsch 17.5 km, about 6 hours 45 minutes
19 Val Mingèr 5.5 km, about 2 hours 15 minutes
20 Mot Tavrü 6.0 km, about 2 hours 15 minutes
21 Lais da Macun 21.0 km, about 8 hours

Notable peaks[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Schweizerischer Nationalpark". Protected Planet. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  2. ^ Parc Suisse Biosphere Reserve
  3. ^ UFAM, Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU | Office fédéral de l'environnement OFEV | Ufficio federale dell'ambiente. "Schweizerischer Nationalpark". (in German). Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  4. ^ Pioneer nature park marks centenary
  5. ^ "The Swiss parks". Retrieved 2 June 2022.
  6. ^ Franca Siegfried, "Poor communication torpedoes a second national park", Horizons, 05/09/2019, accessed 2 October 2023
  7. ^ Annina Helena Michel, André Bruggmann, "Conflicting Discourses: Understanding the Rejection of a Swiss National Park Project Using Data Analysis Triangulation" in Mountain Research and Development 39(1) (June 2019), R24-R36
  8. ^ Overview of the Swiss parks, Federal Office for the Environment (page visited on 27 July 2016).
  9. ^ "tiere – Der Schweizerische Nationalpark im Engadin". Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  10. ^ "Ratsmitglied ansehen". Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  11. ^ "1904–1914 – Der Schweizerische Nationalpark im Engadin". Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  12. ^ a b "1915–2000 – Der Schweizerische Nationalpark im Engadin". Retrieved 3 January 2024.
  13. ^ "Entstehung und Entwicklung – Der Schweizerische Nationalpark im Engadin". Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  14. ^ "Gesetzessammlung". Retrieved 4 January 2024.
  15. ^ "Schutzbestimmungen – Der Schweizerische Nationalpark im Engadin". Retrieved 4 January 2024.

External links[edit]