Panorama Elberndorftal, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Nature parks in NRW

Para­dises for an­im­als and people

In the 12 nature parks in NRW, the beauty of nature can be ex­plored right up close. Many un­usu­al and threatened an­im­als and plants have settled here.

It?s not only in the Eifel na­tion­al park, the only na­tion­al park in North Rhine-West­phalia, that vis­it­ors can ex­per­i­ence nature right up close. In the fed­er­al state?s 12 nature parks, unique bio­spheres have de­veloped, since the parks con­sist mainly of land­scape and nature con­ser­va­tion areas.

Many threatened an­im­al and plant spe­cies, some of which have al­most be­come ex­tinct, have found refuge here, and with a bit of luck, vis­it­ors to the parks might find rare or un­usu­al ex­amples them­selves, such as fire sala­man­ders, mou­flons or black storks.

Unique nature parks

Each nature park in the fed­er­al state has its own spe­cial fea­tures. The Ho­hes Venn-Eifel Ger­man-Bel­gian nature park is a high­land moor area which is unique in Europe. Here, vis­it­ors can be­come ac­quain­ted with the nat­ur­al world of the Eifel re­gion in dif­fer­ent ways, either on a tour over walk­ways or un­der­ground in one of the mines that are open to the pub­lic.

The Schwalm-Nette nature park is also a cross-bor­der pro­ject, al­though this time on the Ger­man-Dutch bor­der. In the area between the tri­angle of three cit­ies - Mönchenglad­bach on the Lower Rhine, Venlo and Ro­er­mond - vis­it­ors will find ju­ni­per heath­land, lakes cre­ated by peat cut­ting, and of course, the three rivers that give the nature park its name.

Park with wild horses

The stars of the Hohe Mark nature park are the Dül­men wild horses, the only herd of wild horses still liv­ing on the European con­tin­ent. However, the Mün­ster­land re­gion is also worth a vis­it to see the burn­ing heath or watch the birds on the Sil­ber­see II lake.

The Düm­mer nature park, loc­ated in the north-east­ern tip of NRW in the Teuto­bur­ger Wald forest and in Lower Sax­ony, is also a place of refuge for nu­mer­ous plants and an­im­als. Cranes breed here, and Euras­i­an wigeons have chosen the lake and moor land­scape as their winter quar­ters.


Brine, moor and heal­ing wa­ters

The Teuto­bur­ger Wald/Eggege­birge nature park is also known as the ?heal­ing garden of Ger­many?, since here, there is a unique dens­ity of nat­ur­al heal­ing ele­ments such as brine, moors and heal­ing wa­ters. The unique fea­ture here are the Ex­tern­steine rocks and the Desen­berg vol­cano, the north­ern­most vol­cano in Ger­many.


In the Terra vita nature and geo­park, which ex­tends across the north of North Rhine-West­phalia and the south of Lower Sax­ony, 300 mil­lion years of the earth?s his­tory can be ex­per­i­enced. Here, among oth­er things, vis­it­ors will find mega­lith­ic tombs, di­no­saur traces and boulders from the ice age.


The new­est nature park in NRW

The new­est and largest nature park in NRW is the Sauer­land-Rothaarge­birge nature park. It was cre­ated as re­cently as 2015 from the Homert, Rothaarge­birge and Ebbege­birge nature parks. In the north of the nature parks, the sea of rocks near Hem­ber and the Bal­ver Höhle, the largest man-made cave in Ger­many, are among the main at­trac­tions. Ski­ing is also pos­sible here dur­ing win­ters with heavy snow­fall.


However, the place more likely to have snow is the area around Win­ter­berg in the Rothaarge­birge re­gion. However, even if there is no snow, it?s worth a vis­it just for the healthy, bra­cing cli­mate in the high ground of the Sauer­land and Sieger­land-Wit­tgen­stein re­gions.

Nature ex­per­i­ence in the Sauer­land re­gion

The Ebbege­birge in the Sauer­land re­gion is dom­in­ated above all by the large num­ber of dams there. Hun­dreds of years ago, the area in the west­ern Sauer­land re­gion be­came a centre for iron pro­duc­tion. Des­pite this, it has largely pre­served the charm of a cul­tur­al land­scape dom­in­ated by farm­ing - and the dams are also part of the reas­on why the re­gion has be­come such a pop­u­lar leis­ure and re­cre­ation area. Some of the highest peaks in the Sauer­land re­gion are to be found in the Diemelsee nature park, which is pop­u­lated by red stags and tim­id mou­flons. Dur­ing the late sum­mer, the up­land heath­land trans­forms the land­scape in­to a lux­uri­ant car­pet of flowers.


Nature parks close to cit­ies

Some of the nature parks in NRW are also loc­ated very close to ma­jor cit­ies, such as the Rhein­land nature park right on the door­step of Co­logne and Bonn. The nature park stands out for its in­cred­ible vari­ety of land­scapes, with lakes, forests, flood plains and hilly vol­cano land­scapes, with in­di­vidu­al vil­lages nest­ling in between.

The Siebenge­birge nature park - the first nature park in North Rhine-West­phalia - is not far away. With is gorge-like val­leys, peaks covered in dense forest, rough rocks and of course, the in­com­par­able view over the Rhine, it has fas­cin­ated paint­ers, po­ets and trav­el­lers alike for cen­tur­ies.

Forests and dams

The heights in the Ber­gisches Land re­gion are also covered in dense forest. The dom­in­ant fea­ture in the Ber­gisches Land re­gion, apart from its hills, are the lakes and dams here, which were already used cen­tur­ies ago to drive com­mer­cial ma­chines, and which still ful­fil im­port­ant tasks today as pro­viders of drink­ing wa­ter or as pop­u­lar leis­ure des­tin­a­tions.


An­oth­er pop­u­lar place to vis­it is the Möh­ne­see lake, which is loc­ated in the middle of the Arns­ber­ger Wald forest nature park. However, this is not only a pop­u­lar place for people to spend time; the lake is also a real para­dise for wa­ter birds. Any­one want­ing to get to know the en­tire nature park, the best tip is to fol­low the Sauer­land forest route, which cov­ers 240 kilo­metres and travels right through the en­tire area.



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Nature re­serves

Panorama Elberndorftal, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Nature parks in NRW

Narzisseblüte in den Eifeltälern, © Naturpark Hohes Venn - Eifel

High Fens-Eifel Nature Park

Torfmoor in Hille, © Gemeinde Hille

Großes Tor­f­moor

Panorama am Heimatblick, © Rhein Voreifel Touristik e.V.

South­ern Rhine­land Nature Park

Münsterland Dülmen Wildpferde Herde, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Hohe Mark Nature Park

Der Rursee im Nationalpark Eifel, © Nationalpark Eifel - Nationalparkverwaltung

Eifel Na­tion­al Park

Siebengebirge Ölberg Panorama , © Tourismus NRW e.V.

The wild Siebenge­birge

Erfrischender Wasserlauf im Naturpark Schwalm-Nette, © Naturpark Schwalm-Nette

Schwalm-Nette Nature Park