The Stelvio National Park is the biggest National Park of the alpine mountain arc; it extends over a surface of 134 620 hectares in the heart of the central Alps and incorporates the entire mountain massif of Ortles Cevedale, whose peak reaches 3 905 metres above sea-level. The Park has three administrative sectors, divided between the Regions of Lombardia, Trentino and Alto Adige.
The Park dates to the beginning of the last century with the idea to safeguard the area; the idea was transformed into law on 24 April 1935. Initially 96 thousand hectares were declared protected but in 1977 the Park was enlarged to its present dimensions. In this splendid and uncontaminated environment it is possible to admire glaciers, huge areas of forest, cultivated areas, mountain pastures inhabited throughout the year, towns and villages.
Thanks to the differences in levels and the morphological varieties, many ecosystems rich in flora and fauna exist. In particular there are numerous examples of alpina fauna. The uncontested king is the deer: it is the most elegant species but also the most difficult to see given the fact that he lives in forests. Next come the mountain goat, the chamois and the ibyx. And when you raise your eyes you may have the fortune to see numerous species of birds like the sparrowhawk, the imperial raven, the crow; various pairs of golden eagles have nested on the cliff faces and if one is lucky, it is even possible to view bearded vultures (lammergeier).
In the Stelvio National Park every angle is covered by multi-coloured flora, a true feast for the eyes. Several botanical species are also very rare, and some like the snow buttercup (which only grows above 3.500 metres above sea-level), find their ideal habitat here. In the Park there are diverse species of conifers, from the red to the white fir tree, from the larch to the mountain pine and scots pine, all intermingled. Rododendruns, gentians, lilies, eidelweis and many other rare flowers colour the park from spring to autumn with their wonderful hues and delicate perfume.
These treasures which Nature has so preciously preserved can be found by following the many well cared for and well marked itineraries and footpaths that criss-cross the Park. Walks, excursions, climbs up onto the glaciers: every visitor can find on the basis of his or her own preferences what he or she desires. Even the winter-time lends itself to interesting visits from the point of view of both alpine and cross-country skiing, but even in the coldest months of the year there are still many footpaths that remain accessible for enchanting forays into the countryside.