National Parks

National Parks cover a mere 1% of Poland’s territory. But what a 1%! You can find everything there: mountains, sea, lakes. You can see bison, shifting sand dunes or the tree beneath which King Jagiello once rested.

There are 23 national parks in total. The oldest is Bialowieski National Park, founded 86 years ago, which consists of an area of virgin forest inhabited by Europe’s largest mammals (the bison) as well as its smallest (the pygmy shrew, weighing only a few grams). The park is also famous for its record-breaking trees, in terms of both age and size. It is said that under Jagiello’s Oak (circumference 550 cm, height 39 m), King Jagiello rested on his way to the battle of Grunwald.

The newest National Park, at the mouth of the river Warta, provides protection for a valuable area of flooded plain near Slonsk, where over 250 species of birds have been counted. 170 species nest here, while others stop over during their migratory journeys across the continent.

The largest, Biebrzanski National Park, is almost entirely covered by water, consisting of a river and spongy peat bogs. The smallest National Park is the pocket-sized Ojcowski National Park, a 12 km section of the Pradnik Valley full of calcareous rocks in fairy-tale shapes, caves and castles from the time of the Piast dynasty.

Each of the national parks is a treasure-house of records. Of only two primeval forests bordering on a great metropolis anywhere in the world, one lies in the suburbs of Warsaw in the Kampinoski National Park. The other is in Nigeria. The Narew river, a long section of which is protected within a National Park, is one of only two braid-like rivers in the world. And the Gory Stolowe (Table Mountains) National Park has the only plate-structured mountains in Europe.

Although the national parks are places set aside for the protection of nature, they also contain reminders of historic events. Sosnowica in the Poleski National Park is the place where the young Kosciuszko, in love with the daughter of the estate owner, was served the traditional black soup of rejection. And Zelazowa Wola, close to the Kampinoski National Park, was the birthplace of Frederic Chopin.

Most frequented by Poles are the Wielkopolski, Tatrzanski and Karkonoski National Parks. There are also many foreign visitors each year, particularly to those national parks which are noted for their bird life: Słowinski, Biebrzanski, Narwianski, Poleski and the park at the mouth of the Warta.

The Karkonosze National Park was formally established on January 16th in 1959. It is located in south-western Poland, on the Czech border. The Park area covers northern slopes of the Karkonosze, which are the highest and largest range of the Sudetes, starting from the Okraj Pass (1046 m) in the east up to Mumlawski Wierch (1219 m) in the west.
Babiogorski National Park
The park encompasses Mount Babia Góra (1,725 meters above sea level), the highest peak in the Western Beskid Range.
Białowieza National Park
Established in 1932, the Białowieski National Park is one of the oldest nature reserves in Europe.
Biebrzański National Park
The largest of all Poland’s national parks, the Biebrzański National Park protects Europe’s major natural expanse of moorland peat bogs which are extend across the Biebrza River valley. The peat bogs occupy an area of 59,223 hectares.
Bieszczadzki National Park
The park boundaries encircle the highest part of the Western Bieszczady Mountains with its main peak, Mount Tarnica (1,346 meters above sea level).
Bory Tucholskie National Park
The park protects the most important part of the Bory Tucholskie Forest.
Ojcowski National Park
The park is situated near Krakow and occupies the southern part of the Krakowsko-Częstochowska Plateau and the valleys of the Prądnik and Sąspówka rivers.
Pieninski National Park
The park encompasses the central part of the Pieniny Range with its highest Mount Trzy Korony (982 meters above sea level) and the breath-taking Dunajec River gorge.
Tatrzanski National Park
On the Polish side, the park surrounds and protects the whole Tatra massif with its highest peak, Mount Rysy (2,499 meters above sea level), and is the only region of an Alpine character in Poland. The jagged granite ridges and forested slopes, post-glacial depressions, mountain lakes, numerous caves and scenic valleys with rushing mountain streams create one of the most beautiful landscapes in Poland.
The park, established in 1960, covers the protected part of Wolin, Poland’s biggest island, which is of nearly 5000 hectares.
Drawa National Park
Drawa National Park has outstanding nature and landscape features and it is located on the Mysliborz-Walcz Lakeland and in Drawa Forest.
Gorczanski National Park
The park comprises the central part of the Gorce Range in the Western Beskid, with the exception of its highest peak, Turbacz (1,310 meters above sea level).
Gory Stołowe National Park
The park covers the Gory Stolowe (Table Mountains) massif located in the central part of the Sudety Mountain Range.
Kampinoski National Park
The park is located in the vicinity of Warsaw and encompasses the Kampinoska Forest, spreading over the Wisła River glacial valley.
Karkonoski National Park
The park encircles the upper reaches of the Karkonosze Mountains with their highest peak, Mount Snieżka (1,603 meters above sea level).
Magurski National Park
The park occupies the central part of the Lower Beskid Range, dominated by Mount Magura Wątkowska (846 meters above sea level).
Narwianski National Park
The greatest natural feature of the park is its well-preserved and unspoilt swampy River Narew valley which features a unique system of flood waters, old riverbeds, bulrushes and shallow bogs, which together are known as The Polish Amazonia.
Poleski National Park
The park is located in the Łęczyńsko-Włodawskie Lake District (Lublin Polesie) and includes a unique flatland of extensive peat bogs and swamps.
Roztoczanski National Park
This park covers the central part of the Roztocze Mountain Range. Deep ravines divide the mountain slopes. The Wieprz and Tanew rivers wind their way gently across the park.
Slowinski National Park
The greatest attraction of this park stretching along the Baltic Sea coast (between Rowy and Łeba) are the shifting sand dunes, which, as they move, uncover dead tree stumps - the fossilized remains of forests once growing here. The biggest dune rises to 42 meters above sea level.
Swietokrzyski National Park
The park territory includes the Lysogory Range with Mount Łysica (612 meters above sea level), the highest in the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, and parts of the adjoining valleys.
Ujscie Warty National Park
The Warta River Mouth National Park stretches across the Toruńsko-Eberswaldzka glacial river valley, close to where the Warta flows into the River Odra.
Wielkopolski National Park
The Wielkopolski National Park is located 15 kilometers south of Poznań, in the Wielkopolskie Lake District.
Wigierski National Park
Lake Wigry, one of the largest lakes in north-eastern Poland, is an important element of this park which also contains 25 smaller lakes interconnected by a network of rivers.

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