Stelvio National Park stretches down from the Alps in northern Italy and is home to deep valleys, majestic ridges and crystal-clear lakes. The park has plenty of walking trails that cater to all levels; beginners can enjoy rambling through the valley while pro hikers can tackle the park’s highest summits.
Honestly, it’s one of those national parks in Italy that just seems to cater for all abilities. Your only real disturbance will be the jingling of cow’s bells across the meadows. It’s just so gorgeous to see.
As one of the oldest protected areas in Italy, the one on the Stelvio Pass was established already in 1935. The national park is located in the heart of the Central Alps and includes the entire Ortles-Cevedale massif and its side valleys. In Trentino it covers the Val di Rabbi and Val di Peio valleys, and also includes parts of three other Italian provinces: Bolzano, Sondrio and Brescia. In the unique surroundings of the Stelvio National Park you can find all alpine landscapes: glaciers and alpine pastures, mountain meadows and valley basins.
Therefore, here you will find wide forests, waterfalls, river courses, alpine pastures and many other enchanting spots. The protected area extends from an altitude of 650 m a.s.l. up to impressive 3,905 m a.s.l. and thus up to the mighty peak of “King Ortles”. The high altitudes and morphological diversity here allow a wide variety of ecosystems and numerous animal species as well as a diverse flora to exist together.
The protected area – in Italian “Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio” – can be visited all year round and offers not only a spectacular landscape but also an interesting insight into the history and culture of the area. The old Venetian sawmills, the alpine pastures, the traditional cheese dairies and also the botanical themed trails and wildlife centres tell of this. The visitor centres, on the other hand, provide all the necessary and worthwhile information for a visit to the Stelvio National Park: there are five of them in the Trentino.
Surface: 1,346.2 km²
Altitude level: between 650 and 3,905 m a.s.l.
Territory: Val di Peio and Val di Rabbi valleys
The Stelvio National Park is a national park in the north-east of Lombardy and north-west of Trento-Alto Adige, in the north of Italy and close to the border with Switzerland. It is partly in the eastern Valtellina region.
In the center of the Alps, Stelvio is the largest national park in Italy – and one of the largest in Europe – and has stunning mountain and valley scenery, and many glaciers – the Ortles-Cevedale mountains form part of the park.
Not all the park is at high altitude however – the altitude rises to almost 4000 metres but in places is ‘only’ a little above 600 metres above sea level. Hence there is a wide range of diverse environments to discover, with an astonishing range of flora and fauna, and scenery including forests, alpine meadows and high mountains.
Where and what to visit Stelvio National Park
Most visits to the park are based around Bormio (on the western border) and Saint Caterina, to the south-east of Bormio and where you will find a visitor center and lots of useful information about trails and guided visits. Among the other popular centres are Castelbello, Sluderno, Valdisotto (south of Bormio) and Vermiglio (south of the park).
Numerous other visitor centres and information centres are found in the park, so whichever direction you approach fom you will find one close by.
Among the most common wildlife in Stelvio are the deer, ibex and chamois, and the golden eagles that survey the landscape from above – and numerous smaller mammals such as stoats and foxes that also live here. As always patience and silence is needed for the best chance to see the wildlife, and many visitors will have to content themselves with a sighting of the occasional squirrel.
Of course, as with all Natural Parks, Stelvio National Park is assentially a region for outdoor exploration and activities, a true hikers country, and numerous walks are possible through the region.
Although large areas are quite inaccessible to visitors there are numerous low-lying valley walks and more adventurous mountain hikes, enabling all to benefit from a visit. Guided walks are available which provide the best way to discover the unique environment. Because of the glaciers skiing is available all year round.
If you are exploring by car be sure to follow the road north of Bormio (the SS38) to Stelvio Pass, near the border with Switzerland and one of the highest mountain passes in the Alps. Although care is needed on the uncountable series of hairpin bends along the route, this is more than compensated by the scenery and the route is the most popular way for motorists to explore the park.
Typically open from June to September, the pass is also a mecca for cyclists who want the challenge of crossing the pass and also to follow in the path of the many famous cyclists who have crossed as part of the Giro d’Italia cycle race.
How To Get To Stelvio National Park
Stelvio National Park is 134,620 hectares in the heart of the Central Alps, so covers quite a vast area.
To be more specific, it covers the four provinces of Trento, Bolzano, Brescia and Sondrio. Depending on where you’re staying in Northern Italy will completely depend on which part of Stelvio National Park you will visit.
Unless you book a private guided tour with your accommodation the best option is to drive towards the national park and find the nearest information centre to start your nature trail.
Many hotels in the regions surrounding the park have bus transfers available.
We highly recommend renting a car because you have the opportunity to explore the area in your own time. You can park up and head off on any trail you like.
If you rent a car for your entire trip in Italy, you can pick the car up from the airport in which you land and drive from there into Trentino. Another option is of course a private taxi to the lake.
What To Expect At Stelvio National Park
Stelvio National Park is situated in the north of Italy and is also one of the largest National parks in Europe.
Located in centre of the Alps, it covers the four provinces of Trento, Bolzano, Brescia and Sondrio and is one of the top things to do in Val Di Sole.
However not all of Stelvio National Park is high altitude either.
In some places it’s can reach up to almost 4000 metres but in others, it’s only just over 600 metres above sea level.
Hence why there is such a vast range of diverse environments to discover. From a wide range of flora and fauna, to stunning mountain and valley scenery, and many glaciers.
It offers a unique scenery of glaciers, waterfalls, glacial lakes and waterways, extensive woodlands, cultivated areas, mountain farms which are inhabited the whole year round.
For the really adventurous Rafting Down Noce River in Val di Sole takes you through this beautiful National Park.
What Nature You Can Find At Stelvio National Park
Stelvio National Park has safeguarded the scenic wonders of its Alpine valleys and has conserved the fauna and flora of a vast area of protected nature since 1935.
The common wildlife wildlife at Stelvio National Park are the deer, ibex and chamois, and the golden eagles that survey the landscape from above.
Smaller mammals such as stoats and foxes also live there. Patience and silence is needed for the best possible change to spot the wildlife. You might even see the occasional squirrel.
When we visited, we spotted few squirrels and with it being sunrise and the area almost silent, we saw deers in the distance too. It was a beautiful experience and one we’ll never forget.
Trekking & Trails At Stelvio National Park
Guided walks are available in pretty much any town you visit that surround Stelvio National Park. They provide the best way to discover the unique environment.
Numerous visitor centres and information centres are also found in the park, so whichever direction you approach from you will find one close by.
So the snow capped mountains and unspoilt nature at Stelvio National Park are a must see when visiting Northern Italy.
Where To Stay In Stelvio National Park
Luxury – Kristiania Pure Nature Hotel & Spa
Kristiania Pure Nature Hotel & Spa is located in the Val di Sole, a few yards from the ski lifts to the Biancaneve slopes.
A free ski bus is provided during winter.
All rooms at the Kristiania Pure Nature Hotel & Spa come with a balcony, satellite TV, a minibar and private bathroom. Some rooms offer views of the mountains.
Beauty Centre Acquaviva includes an indoor swimming pool, hot tub, Turkish bath and saunas. There is also a fitness centre.
Mid-Budget – Tevini Dolomites Charming Hotel
Tevini Dolomites Charming Hotel is in the middle of a sunny valley in Commezzadura in the Italian Alps.
The hotel overlooks the Brenta, Ortles-Cevedale, and Adamello-Presanella mountain ranges. Natural parks are nearby.
You can walk or take the public ski bus to the nearby Daolasa Val Mastellina cableway, just 550 yards away. The property offers ski equipment rental and a ski storage room.
The Tevini is close to mountain paths ideal for horseback riding, Nordic walking, and long-distance and cross-country skiing.
Mid-Budget – Hotel Chalet Al Foss
Hotel Chalet Al Foss is located in a tranquil area of the Val di Sole, 1.2 miles from Vermiglio.
It offers panoramic views of the Presanella glacier and a free shuttle service to the Passo Tonale ski area.
This family-run hotel is 3.7 miles from the slopes at Passo Tonale and not far from the cross-country ski areas of Velon and Stavel. Ski storage is free.
The restaurant offers classic Italian and international cuisine accompanied by a varied buffet of vegetables, starters and desserts.
In the summer months, guests can enjoy the buffet breakfast out on the sun terrace.
Attractions around Stelvio National Park
- Zufallhütte : Hiking Highlight.
- Passo dello Stelvio – Stilfser Joch: Road Cycling Highlight. One of the most important Alpine passes in Europe, second for height with its 2758 m.
- Rifugio Tabaretta / Tabarettahütte: Hiking Highlight. The stretch from Tabaretta to Payer is a truly enchanting segment of the trail.
- Hintergrathütte : Hiking Highlight. Sitting in the sun in front of the hut and enjoying Königsspitze, Monte Zebru and Ortler.
- Monte Vioz : Hiking Highlight Monte Vioz is a 3.645 meter mountain located on the border between Lombardy and Trentino in the wonderful and magnificent Ortler Alps.
- Umbrailpass / Giogo di Santa Maria: Road Cycling Highlight (Segment) A fantastic descent with – in comparison to Stelvio – little traffic.
- Ortler – Ortles : Mountaineering Highlight Simply a dream: the highest peak in South Tyrol. The world is at your feet.
Hängebrücke in der Plimaschlucht: Hiking Highlight (Segment)
The suspension bridge is one of four structures made of Corten steel that give visitors the opportunity to experience the Plima Gorge up close