A UNESCO natural heritage site since 2009, the Friulian Dolomites Nature Park is the largest of the two Regional Parks in Friuli Venezia Giulia: in fact, it stretches over an area of 36,950 hectares and includes the regions of Valcellina (Andreis, Cimolais, Claut, Erto and Casso) and the Tramontina Valley (Frisanco and Tramonti di Sopra) in Pordenone and the upper Tagliamento Valley in Carnia (UD). Its symbol is the Campanile della Val Montanaia, a spectacular 300 m high aiguille that dominates the Montanaia Valley. It’s a real paradise for nature hiking and trekking (and in winter for cross-country skiing, ski mountaineering and snowshoe walks), which is guaranteed thanks to a special network of trails and a good number of support structures. It extends across an area of great geological, environmental and natural interest that is characterised by a large amount of wilderness, where thousands of wild animals live undisturbed, having found their perfect habitat here.
The fauna in the Park is particularly rich thanks mainly to the various habitats within its borders: chamois, roe deer, marmots, wood grouse, black grouse, deer, alpine ibex and even golden eagles nest here.
The plant life is equally diverse. As you gradually climb up from the bottom of the valley, you come to beech and larch forests and swathes of mountain pines; while at higher altitudes the meadows (which are covered with a rich variety of flowers in the summer) give way to rocks. Alongside the vast number of alpine flowers and shrubs (rhododendrons, gentians, orchids, edelweiss, etc), the park contains some genuine endemic species, such as Arenaria huteri and Gentiana froelichii, making it an area of great botanical interest.
Its prevailing landscape is the characteristic Eastern Prealps scenery, featuring Dolomite peaks and long narrow valleys. The Monfalconi mountain chain with the Campanile di Val Montanara, the high pastures of Campuross, the meadows around Senons hut and the solitude of the Meduna Canals make it a truly unique environment. It’s a highly picturesque rocky landscape with isolated peaks, pillars of stratified rock, earth pyramids, aiguilles, dolomitic towers and various karstic formations. Among the most special and unique geological phenomena of their kind in Friuli Venezia Giulia, we note the so-called Books of San Daniele, heaped slabs of rock located on the crest of Mount Borgà to the north of the village of Casso, and the Periadriatic Seam, which is easy to locate in the area around Andreis to the south of Mount Raut, creating a unique landscape. Among the curiosities found here, we note the discovery of dinosaur footprints at Casavento Farmhouse and the Bird Life Area of Andreis.
The Park is a temple, an ode to nature, which preserves the ancient tracks of time even up until recent history, as we can see from the rift on Mount Toc which caused the Vajont Dam tragedy (1963). Near to the crown of the dam, which you can visit on a guided tour, there is a Park Information Point.
There is a packed calendar of excursions and activities which the Park, based in Cimolais, organises throughout the year: more information is available at www.parcodolomitifriulane.it.