BOHEMIAN FOREST (Šumava mountains)

Šumava mountains

The oldest and most extensive mountain range in Bohemia located at the southwestern border of the country is a part of the Czech Massive. Its area extends almost to one fourteenth of the whole territory of the Czech Republic. The inner core of the Bohemian Forest stretches 125 km from the Všeruby Pass to the Vyšší Brod Pass and its width from the state border to the edge of its foothills does not exceed 15 km.

Šumava mountains - structure

The Bohemian Forest is generally divided into 6 smaller units:

  • Železná Ruda Uplands
  • Šumava Plains – the central part of the Bohemian Forest
  • Boubín Uplands
  • Trojmezí Uplands
  • Želnava Uplands
  • Vltava Trench

The mountain range of the Bohemian Forest crosses the state border both with Austria (Mühlviertel) and the Federal Republic of Germany (Bayerischer Wald). In Germany, the Bohemian Forest is called Böhmerwald.
The highest peak of the Bohemian Forest is Plechý (1,378 m above sea level), and Great Arber on the German side (Grosser Arber – 1,456 m above sea level), which is also the highest peak of the mountain range as such.
The Bohemian Forest constitutes a divide between the North Sea and the Black Sea. The largest part of the Bohemian Forest is drained by the Vltava running north and only minor streams and brooks drain water to the Danube and eventually to the Black Sea.

Šumava mountains - nature protection

The main purpose of nature protection is to contribute to the preservation of the diversity of environment and forms of life on Earth. To create conditions for permanent maintenance, renewal and rational use of natural resources, preservation of natural heritage, characteristic and original appearance of landscape and maintenance of environmental stability. In 1990 the Bohemian Forest was declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.

Šumava National Park

The Šumava National Park (ŠNP) was established by a decree of the Government of the Czech Republic of March 20, 1991. The headquarters of the administration of ŠNP are located in Vimperk. With 690 km², ŠNP is the largest national park in the Czech Republic. It includes areas of extensive coniferous and mixed forests with a number of unique bogs and glacial lakes.

Šumava National Park - zones

It is divided into three zones

  • Zone I. protects the most precious and most stable areas with natural ecosystems – old growth forests, wetlands and raised bogs. Movement within such areas is restricted only to indicated tourist trails and paths. This zone is usually identified by signs reading “I. zóna národního parku”. The edges of the area are generally identified by two red stripes located on trunks of trees, or on posts in forest-free areas. Quiescent areas, declared as necessary with respect to the regulation of visitor rates, are identified by signs reading “Klidové území národního parku”. The access to such areas is restricted only to indicated trails as well.
  • Zone II. includes the remaining part of forests and other ecosystems. It is not indicated in maps or in the terrain.
  • Zone III. is marginal and it includes areas considerably modified by civilization, especially concentrated built-up areas.

Šumava Protected Landscape Area

The Šumava Protected Landscape Area (PLA) was established on December 27, 1963 as the largest protected area in the Czech Republic. After the declaration of ŠNP, the area of the PLA amounts to 982 km². The headquarters of the PLA are in Vimperk, together with the ŠNP Administration.

Code of Conduct in Šumava National Park

Respecting the basic rules of conduct in the Šumava National Park will allow you to enjoy undisturbed moments in the park.

  • Leave your vehicle at the appropriate parking lot.
  • Camping is allowed in designated campsites only.
  • Be quiet and do not disturb animals.
  • Do not pick plants and do not catch animals.
  • Intelligent people don’t pollute the environment; others are prohibited from doing so.
  • Water sports are allowed only in designated sections of the rivers Vltava and Otava.
  • Keep your dogs under control.
  • Mountain climbing, paragliding and gliding is prohibited within the territory of the national park.
  • Stay away from caves and underground cavities.
  • Bicycle riding is restricted to roads and designated bike trails. Do not use other trails. You are sharing the trails with hikers, so please respect each other!

Special Notice:
The environment of the national park is not completely free of all dangers, such as falls of dead trees or breaking branches of dry trees. Therefore, be increasingly careful in your own interest and abide by the recommendations of the NP Administration and the Šumava PLA.

Nature Guards
Observance of the Code of Conduct and of the applicable legislation concerning nature protection is monitored by the Nature Guards. Therefore, observe the Code of Conduct during your visit to the Šumava National Park, abide by the instructions of Nature Guards and address the guards with your questions and inquiries.