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This is part 3 of the series here on the German Blog, the German Nationalparks, a series on the 16 National Parks of Germany. Last week, I discussed the Land der Tausend Seen, Park Müritz, and before that park Berchtesgaden, and the mysterious Schwarzwald. Today, we will travel to the westernmost Nationpark: in die Eifel!
The National Park Eifel is the first one in Bundesland (federal state) Nordrhein-Westfalen. It was established on January 1, 2004. Compared to last week’s park, Müritz, this one is rather small: it is only 107 km2 (26.000 acres).
As with the other Nationalparks, the Eifel also has wonderful nature. Over 900 endangered species live here. One quite exceptional species living in the park are Wildkatzen (wild cats).
The main goal of the park is to preserve the Hainsimsen-Buchenwald (wood-rushes beech forest). These trees were once the dominating vegetation in Germany and Central Europe. However, much of the nature in the area of the park was used for other purposes, such as forestry. The faster-growing spruce was planted instead of the beech, because it would be better business. The area was also used for other purposes, like the NS-Ordensburg Vogelsang, see below. Now, nature can do its thing: human intervention is minimal, and so slowly, the beech forest will return as it once was, to become a real jungle!
Just like in other national parks, you can discover the beautiful nature of Nationalpark Eifel on several trails that run through wonderful spots of untouched nature.
An interesting sight right next to the park is the second largest remaining structure from Nazi Germany, the NS-Ordensburg Vogelssang. The Truppenübungsplatz (troops training square) is in fact in the National Park. Definitely worth a visit if you want to find out more about the Nazi past of the area.
Would you like to visit the Nationalpark Eifel? Maybe you will spot a wild cat?