The area between the highest peak of Velebit and the sea was declared a national park in 1949. The outstanding features of the park are the canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica. Cliffs rising to a height of more than 400 metres, waterfalls and wild, rugged rock forms create a dramatic ambiance. The area is a veritable challenge for alpinists, researchers and scientists alike. Here, bird watchers come into their own – there are 220 bird species, while hikers, mountaineers and free climbers find delight in the numerous cliffs and rocks, caves and potholes. Most interesting among the caves are Manita peć, which visitors can visit with guide, and Vodarica cave. On the rocks of the Velika Paklenica canyon alpinist climbing routes have been marked, the most popular being the rock known as Anića Kuka (712 metres).
Paklenica national park is spread over 95 square kilometres, and is located at a littoral slope of the southern part of Velebit, just above the town Marasovići, bordering with the zone of the highest peaks – Vaganski vrh, Babin vrh and Sveto brdo. The park contains the area of torrential currents of Mala and Velika Paklenica, their recognizable canyons, cut vertically into the southern slopes of Velebit and the wider surrounding area. In a relatively small area, one can find an extreme richness in geo-morphological forms and phenomena, a variety of flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature.
Certainly the most attractive part of southern Velebit are the canyons of Mala and Velika Paklenica. The canyon of Velika Paklenica is 14 km long, and 500 to 800 meters wide. In its narrowest parts, the canyon is only 50 m wide. On both sides of the canyon, there are vertical rocks, of which some are taller than 700 meters. This canyon is visited by more than 110,000 visitors annually. The canyon of Mala Paklenica is of more humble dimensions and the torrent flowing though it is significantly weaker. It is 12 km long, from 400 to 500 meters wide, and in its narrowest part it is only 10 meters wide, while the surrounding rocks are up to 650 meters tall. Representative for the central part of the park is the relief complex of Borovnik and Crni vrh, and the valley expanses of Mala and Velika Močila.
The eastern part of the park is geo-morphologically extremely differentiated, inaccessible and wild. Further to the east, this wilderness turns into an area of more mild forms in the region of the Mali and Veliki Libinj, which form karst plateaus with numerous karst sinkholes, whose bottoms were mostly used for agriculture. The tip of the Paklenica national park is made up by the narrow ridge of Mountain Velebit, one to three km wide. This is where Velebit’s highest peak is located – Vaganski vrh (1757 km). Walking is the only true way to get to know the park. It has between 150 and 200 km of paths, from tourist ones, which lead from the canyon of Velika Paklenica to the Manita peć cave, the forest lodge “Lugarnica” and the mountaineers’ refuge hut, to mountaineers’ paths leading to Velebit’s highest peaks. All paths in the park are marked with signs and tables. The park features the mountaineers’ refuge hut “Paklenica” with 50 beds in rooms with several beds. The walk from the canyon to the hut takes around two hours. It is open every day from June to September, and only during the weekends for the rest of the year. The Paklenica national park is the most significant climbing centre in Croatia, well known outside the country. It is particularly attractive on account of its proximity to the coast, which makes the Paklenica Riviera an ideal destination for combining climbing and water-sports The history of mountain climbing in Paklenica begins in the distant 1938.
Nowadays, in the Paklenica climbing destinations there are more than 360 directions of varying difficulty and lengths so every climber can find something for himself. The main climbing season in Paklenica begins in the spring and lasts until late in the autumn. There are also three educational paths in the park and one bike trail. The name of the park originates from the resin of the black pine tree, the so-called “paklina”, used by the local population in folk-medicine for healing wounds, as sliver for lighting and to coat wooden boats.
Lika-Senj County Tourist Association
Paklenica National Park
Tel: ++385 23 369 155
Fax: ++385 23 359 133