Gorce National Park
Gorce National Park
is a national park in Lesser Poland Voivodeship, southern Poland. It covers central and northeastern parts of the Gorce mountains, which are part of the Western Beskids (at the western end of the Carpathian range).
The first steps to protect this land go back to 1927, when a forest reserve was set up on land owned by Count Ludwik Wodzicki of Poręba Wielka.
The National Park was created in 1981, then covering 23.9 square kilometres. Today, the area of the park has grown to 70.3 km2 (27.1 sq mi), of which 65.91 km2 is forested. The area of the protective zone around the park is 166.47 km2. The park lies within Limanowa County and Nowy Targ County, and has its headquarters in Poręba Wielka.
The Gorce range is dominated by arched peaks and river valleys which cut into the range. There are a few small caves and obviously - several peaks such as Turbacz (the highest - 1310 meters above sea level), Jaworzyna Kamienicka, Kiczora, Kudłoń, Czoło Turbacza and Gorc Kamienicki. Waters cover only 0.18 km2 of park s area - there are no lakes or big rivers, only streams.
In the whole Gorce range there are hundreds of species of plants, including Alpine and Subalpine plants, which grow on openings. Forests cover about 95% of park's area and most common species are spruce, beech and fir. There are some openings which are mostly the result of human activity.
First settlers appeared in the Gorce area in the 14th century but Gorce's forests suffered most in the 19th century. Back then, trees were cut down on a large scale, especially in easily accessible areas.
Animal life is abundant and it includes several species of birds and mammals, including lynx, wolf and bear. Also there are frogs, snakes and salamanders (the latter are regarded as the symbol of the park).
Gorce area contains several examples of folk architecture. The most important building is a unique chapel located on the Jaworzyna Kamienicka opening, which was built in 1904 by Tomasz Chlipała, aka Bulanda. Chlipała was a famous Gorce?s folk wizard and there are a great many legends associated with him.
The park's landscape is of a natural character which means that traces of human activities are rare. Number of tourists visiting it is not high and the park as such is a haven for nature lovers. Location of Gorce peaks make it possible for one to check out surrounding areas, including the Tatra and Pieniny mountains.