Discovering the only national park in Switzerland

Val Cuozza, Swiss National Park

If you didn’t know that Switzerland has its own national park, you’re not alone! Many of us think of the entire nation as a wild outdoor playground, but the Swiss National Park enjoys special protection that sets it apart from the rest of the country.

The park provides an expansive home for wildlife and offers 50 miles (80 kilometers) of trails. With strict rules about staying on marked paths, carrying out trash, and not gathering plants, nature comes first here. If you’re a national parks lover, you’ll feel right at home.

Here’s what you should know before making a visit.

Swiss National Park, sunrise
The sun rises on a winter day near the Hotel Il Fuorn in the Swiss National Park.

Basic information about the Swiss National Park

Located in Canton Graubünden, the Parc Naziunal Svizzer is about as far east as anyone can go in Switzerland. You’ll find the visitors’ center in Zernez, but that’s just the gateway to the park. The entire national park covers 66 square miles (170 square kilometers).

Wildflowers in Swiss National Park
Wildflowers grow in the Scharl Valley at the Swiss National Park.

Park regulations ban biking and camping, but the prime hiking is more than enough to make up for that. Regular trails are non-technical, but you’ll need to be fit and bring special equipment to hike the mountain and alpine trails, which involve major elevation changes and often go above the treeline. No matter which hike you choose, remember to stay safe and follow the trail!

You’ll see plenty of wildlife in the Swiss National Park. Keep your eyes peeled for ibexes, chamois, marmots, rabbits, lizards, and birds. And if you love wildflowers, you’re in for a treat! Edelweiss, bell flowers, gentians, and many other flower varieties grow in this region.

And of course, take time to enjoy the view. From lofty peaks to icy-blue lakes and towering trees, you’ll never round a corner without having your breath taken away all over again.

You can easily reach the park by taking a train to Zernez and then a bus to the visitors’ center. Check the timetables and reserve your tickets on

Swiss National Park, river in Val Sassa
A river winds through the Val Sassa in the Swiss National Park in late summer.

While you can find accommodation throughout the surrounding area, staying in the park itself is a special experience. Camping is not allowed, but the national park does house visitors in a mountain hut and in the Hotel Parc Naziunal Il Fuorn. The mountain hut — Chamanna Cluozza — offers dormitory accommodations from mid-June through mid-October. The hut is only accessible via trail, so plan on a three- to four-hour hike from Zernez.

Interestingly, the Swiss National Park was the first national park located anywhere in the Alps. And while it’s the most protected area in Switzerland, it’s definitely not alone in terms of special designation or protection. The small country also has regional nature parks and nature discovery parks throughout the French-speaking, German-speaking, and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland. These beautiful areas are worth a visit too… but that’s a subject for another day.

Itching to visit Switzerland? Join us on a guided or self-guided Alps tour. You’ll have an unforgettable experience hiking in, trekking through, painting in, riding a train across, or photographing the Alps. We can’t wait to see you in Switzerland!


Whitney Brown

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