Risnjak National Park in a Page: Mountains, Views, Kupa river source, Tour

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A special place, reserved only for those who truly love nature – Risnjak National Park.

Welcome to Risnjak National Park Croatia!

In some of Croatia’s National Parks, the sights you’ll see will immediately leave you breathless. Descending streams, epic mountain ranges, incredible rock formations demand your attention. Hidden beneath Croatia’s most heavily forested area, Risnjak National Park is more subdued in its charm.

Sure, it has two mountain peaks, offering fantastic views. But, there are bigger. Though it grows to become a near 300 kilometre monster, some parts of the Kupa river run gently through Risnjak. In a country that boasts the Danube, Drava, Sava and Cetina, certainly, there are more astonishing river runs than this. But, follow the Kupa upstream in Risnjak, and you’ll get your reward.

Thick, dense forests covering Risnjak National Park
Thick, dense forests covering Risnjak National Park © Ivo Biočina.

Passing historic villages, meadows filled with butterflies and through thick, ageless forests, you’ll eventually come to the Kupa’s source. It’s a deceptively placid beginning. Beneath the peaceful, turquoise and blue surface lies one of the most powerful, most extended and deepest wellsprings in Croatia. You wouldn’t know it at first glance. It’s not perceptible even if you stare.

Forests and mountain meadows of Risnjak National Park.
Forests and mountain meadows © Risnjak National Park.
Adjust to the pace of the forest and the seasons

Within this experience lies the secret of Risnjak. This is not a National Park of instant, shocking thrills. More, this is journey of experience and discovery. You need to immerse yourself in this landscape to unlock its secrets. Only when deep in the woods, silent and still, might you catch sight of its shyest residents – rare birds chief among them. But, if you have the patience, you’ll be rewarded. In this unhurried nature, you have to slow down. Here, the life surrounding moves mostly with the pace of the changing seasons. Adjust yourself to that inevitable momentum and Risnjak will be revealed.

5 things not to miss in Risnjak National Park

1) Mountains, hiking and walking

View from the peaks
View from the peaks © Risnjak National Park.

Without a doubt, one of the most popular activities in Risnjak is hiking. You’ll follow in the footsteps of a thousand nature lovers on these paths and trails. Both the peaks of Snježnik and Risnjak – the park’s two highest – are not difficult to reach. As well as the rewarding views from the tops, you’ll pass by more interesting topography, such as the Greben reef and the vast Lazac meadow.

On the Leska Trail in Risnjak National Park.
On the Leska Trail © Risnjak National Park.

If you want a beautiful walk in nature but without the strenuous climb, then take the Leska Trail. You’ll see great highlights of the park’s natural and cultural heritage on this 4.2 km footpath near the main entrance. Both self-directed tours and guided tours of Leska are available.

2) Views from the peaks and in the forests

Breathtaking views from a viewpoint near Razloge
Breathtaking views from a viewpoint near Razloge © PepeJanja.

After hiking Snježnik, you might be surprised at the vista. You’ll see the rocky peak itself is surrounded by mountain meadows. In summer, they’re dotted with wildflowers. Also, you’ll want to linger awhile on the lookout at 1506 metres. Its view is spectacular.

In the trees of Risnjak National Park.
In the trees © Risnjak National Park.

However, not all of the best sights in Risnjak are unobstructed from on high. In fact, some of the park’s most picturesque scenes can be found deep in the forest. You’ll experience a peacefulness and solitude there, surrounded by the sounds of birds and smell of trees. Sunlight filters through the high branches. Offering shade in summer, during winter they often bear a blanket of snow.

3) Source of the Kupa river

source of the Kupa in Risnjak National Park.
As shown above, source of the Kupa © Risnjak National Park.

At nearly 300km in length, the Kupa river is a mighty flow of water. Almost two-thirds of its length forms a natural border between Slovenia and Croatia. And, its story starts in Risnjak National Park.

The Kupa in Risnjak National Park
In view of bird-filled forests, the Kupa in Risnjak © Risnjak National Park.

In fact, the start of the story is almost as epic as the river itself. Because the source of the Kupa river is one of the most powerful, most extended and deepest wellsprings in Croatia. Located 321 metres above sea level, the enchanting turquoise green and blue lake is surrounded by pretty wilderness. Even within a National Park, this beautiful spot is awarded a special level of nationally recognised protection.

If you want details of the hiking routes you can take to reach the Kupa source, then look here.

4) Active Risnjak

Although best known for walks into the wild, there are other activities that will unlock Risnjak. Both in and around the park, you’ll find the following…

Ski slopes of Platak.
Ski slopes of Platak.

On the western border of the park you’ll find Platak. On account of its close proximity to Zagreb and Rijeka, this small slope is Croatia’s most popular skiing spot. What’s more, after you’ve travelled to the top by ski-lift, you can see the sea. Both sledding and snowboarding are also accommodated here. Relatively inexpensive, it can be crowded. Although, a morning visit or even nighttime skiing option lets you beat the crowds.

Mountain biking

Explore the park on a mountain bike or electric bike. Indeed, you can rent either within the park itself. Unofficial trails through Risnjak range from 4.2 km up to the longest of 40 km. As shown above, mountain bike routes through the typical topography of Gorski Kotar. If you want to learn more about cycling in Risnjak and Gorski Kotar, then look here.

Fly fishing
On the Kupa, fly fishing in Risnjak
On the Kupa, fly fishing in Risnjak © Risnjak National Park.

The clear waters of the Kupa’s early course hold Brown trout and Grayling. Within beautiful, peaceful scenery, try your hand at catching some. Starting in mid-May, the season runs until autumn.

Animal tours / bird watching

Several shelters have been constructed in the park to help you catch sight of its wildlife. Plant yourself in one of these and bring your binoculars. Birdwatchers are used to doing this. if you want to see the bears, then contact the park to ask about either tour possibilities, or the best time to go.

5) Guslica

Of all the peaks in Risnjak, Guslica may be the most mysterious. On the top, you’ll find an abandoned Yugoslav People’s Army complex. Actually, it’s not open to visitors. But, as you can see in the video, some do go inside. As shown above, there’s an eeriness to this curious place. You’ll find it about one hour’s walk from Snježnik, at an altitude of 1490m.

Animals of Risnjak National Park

purple emperor (Apatura iris)
As shown above, purple emperor (Apatura iris) © Bernard DUPONT.

Up to the present time, a total of 105 species of butterflies have been recorded here. Indeed, the Kupa valley and western slopes of Dimovac hill are important sites for butterflies. No less than 69 species have been recorded in this area alone, including 8 of the park’s 11 endangered butterflies. Specifically, the marsh fritillary (Euphydryas aurinia), purple emperor (Apatura iris) and woodland white (Leptidea morsei). Also, checkered blue (Scolintatides orion), Nickerl´s fritallary (Mellicta aurelia), green-underside blue (Glauscopsyche elexis) and woodland ringlet (Erebia medusa).

peregrine falcon
As shown above, a peregrine falcon © Eric Kilby.

Until now, 114 bird species have been registered as living or visiting the park. They include endangered species like Capercaillie Tetrao urogallus and predators like Peregrine falcon, Pygmy-owl, Ural owl and Tawny owl. Also, if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a White-backed woodpecker or Three-toed woodpecker here.

Eurasian lynx kitten
As shown above, a Eurasian lynx kitten © Bernard Landgraf.

Both the grey wolf and brown bear make homes inside Risnjak National Park. In fact, many come here specifically to catch sight of the bears, from a safe distance. However, rarest of all the predators living here is the Eurasian lynx.

Accommodation: Where to stay in Risnjak National Park

Kod Korita Rooms in Crni Lug
As shown above, Kod Korita Rooms in Crni Lug.

On the park’s doorstep, you’ll find accommodation options limited, but very good. If you want to stay within the actual park, then try Risnjak National Park guest-house. Check the price list here. Also, you’ll find 43 beds available at the Josip Schlosser Klekovski mountain hut, just below the peak of Risnjak. It’s open from 1st May until 31st October.

If you’re looking for something fancier, then try Kod Korita Rooms in Crni Lug, seen here. Otherwise, the nearby city of Rijeka is very close and you’ll find a huge range of accommodation options there. If you want to have a closer look at Rijeka, then check our detailed guide.

Where is Risnjak National Park? Map

Situated in Gorski Kotar, western Croatia, Risnjak National Park is around 15km northeast of Kvarner capital Rijeka. Its northernmost part stretches out to the border with Slovenia and its westernmost section borders famous ski resort Platak.

Risnjak National Park Entrance

You’ll find the main entrance to Risnjak National Park in Crni Lug, 14km west of Delnice. Generally, this is the entrance most will use visiting the park. However, it is not the only route into the vast park area. If you’re in the nearby ski resort of Platak, then you’ll find a much quicker route in than via Crni Lug. Also, you’ll need different access points if visiting the park’s northern section. For instance, if you want to hike to the source of the Kupa river.

Weather and Climate

In the forests of Ribnjak National Park during winter
In the forests of Ribnjak National Park during winter © Romulić & Stojčić.

Nearby Rijeka has the reputation of being Croatia’s rainiest city. Certainly, looking around the rich green of Risnjak, you’ll not be surprised to learn it’s also rainy here In fact, Risnjak sits in Gorski Kotar, the most densely green of all Croatia’s mountainous areas.

Generally, the park has a warm and moderately rainy climate. You’ll find the weather pleasant in Risnjak from May through October. November is the rainiest month, when on average, rain falls for 15.2 days, typically aggregating up to 117mm of precipitation. Also, this month has around 82% humidity. December through April, winter’s can be cold and not brief in Risnjak. Markedly, and peaks above 1,200 metres belong to the sub-arctic, snowy forest climate zone. However, if you dress appropriately, you’ll find Risnjak is very picturesque when covered in snow. If you want to see the weather in Risnjak today and for the next few days, then look below.

How to get to Risnjak National Park

Flights, nearest airport to Risnjak National Park
Flights, passenger plane, airport

At a distance of around 35km, the nearest airport to Risnjak National Park is Rijeka airport. If you want to learn more about the airport, then look here.

Road, by car
Motorways. How to get there by car.
© Hrvatske Autoceste.

Generally, the easiest way to get to Risnjak National Park by car is to head for Delnice. Not only is the town on the main A1 motorway between Zagreb and Rijeka, but also it’s just 5km from the main park entrance.

Looking for a fast, reliable and trouble-free transfer to or from Risnjak National Park? Contact TC transfer partner Adriatic Transfers for your one-stop solution.

More information

Risnjak National Park

Address: Bijela Vodica 48, 51317 Crni Lug, Primorje-Gorski Kotar County (Kvarner), Croatia
Email[email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
Telephone: +385 (0) 51 836 133 / +385 (0) 51 836 261

Kvarner County Tourist Board

Address: N. Tesle 2, 51410 Opatija, Croatia
Email[email protected], [email protected]
Telephone: +385 (0) 51 272 988 / +385 (0) 51 623 333 / +385 (0) 51 628 888

If you want to get the latest news for Kvarner, Risnjak and all of Croatia’s National Parks, then check Total Croatia News here.


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