What is the National Park of the Grand Paradise?
The park’s 700 square kilometres (that’s 173,000 acres, fact fanatics!) of protected land are located in the northwest regions of Italy, in the provinces of Aosta and Piemonte. The park borders France on its western side and is connected to the Parc National de la Vanoise.(gran Paradiso)
Since Gran Paradiso is located in the Graian Mountains, you may anticipate seeing a lot of Alpine landscape there.
The tragic history of how the park came to be is that it all started because people enjoy killing animals. The region had served as both a hunting ground for the royal family and a hangout for poachers. Vittorio Emanuel first designated it as a Royal Hunting Reserve to safeguard the Alpine ibex from poachers (and reserve it for royal hunters).
It became Italy’s first national park after the royal family donated the territory to the country in 1922. Although the ibex were meant to be protected, the law wasn’t followed at first, and the population fell to extremely low levels.
Gran Paradiso National Park activities
Hike Till You’re Satisfied
Of course, one of the main activities in Gran Paradiso is hiking. You may go on a very long walk and never take the same path twice because there are more than 700 kilometres of defined paths to explore.
Every Mountain You Can
Okay, so you’ve definitely scaled every peak in the park, but Gran Paradiso offers a tonne of options for rock and ice climbing.
For climbers, setting up camp in Turin or another location on the park’s Piedmont side is ideal because here is where the best climbing routes are located. For fantastic climbing chances, check out the Orco Valley and the Soana Valley.
In a Retreat, snooze
If you’ve ever trekked to a refuge hut in North America, you probably have an image of a modest wooden structure with a few bunk beds, a fireplace, and not much else.
But in Gran Paradiso, many of the refugio, or hiking huts, are of European design. In other words, they offer practically full-service hotel amenities like restaurants and cosy beds. A chance to experience a trip in style.
Be sure to know what to expect and what to pack before you go because different huts offer different services.
Find the Animal Life
We searched for marmots while ascending Punta Quinseina, keeping our eyes and ears open. Unfortunately, it was too early in the season for us to see any. Apart from a large number of soaring birds, the only animal we encountered was a quite common Italian hang-glider. These were indeed a sight to behold as they soar through the air at 1500 metres!
The park does have a lot of marmots, though. These hefty rodents, which can hibernate for up to nine months a year, have evolved to survive the severe alpine climes. Marmots frequently make noise before you see them. They chirp in a high-pitched, bird-like sound, and if you get too close, their chirping will become more frequent.
The Alpine ibex, sometimes known as the Steinbock, is the park’s emblem, and it may be found deeper within the park. These long-horned wild goats, as we mentioned in the introduction, are the reason the park was created in the first place.
Love Scenic Lakes ? New Zealand Has 8 Scenic Lakes (South Island)
Another type of goat that resembles the steinbock but has shorter horns is the chamois. Yet, because female steinbocks have shorter horns as well, it is simple to confuse the two.
Keep a watch out for the majestic golden eagles, which are birds of prey that primarily hunt marmots and other small mammals but are occasionally large enough to steal small goats. Yikes!
And last, the Aosta Valley is now home to a wolf group. Wolves are unlikely to be seen, which is a good thing, but they might be heard howling at the moon.
Mount your bicycle
There are many bike trails in the park, ranging from fully paved, easy routes to intensely tough mountain bike tracks, if you’d rather roll than stroll. Several routes travel through some of the famed Alpine towns that border the park’s lower reaches.
Learn more about a winter wonderland
If you ever find yourself in Italy during the winter, put on your snowshoes and explore the park paths. On Gran Paradiso, you may also go ice climbing, downhill skiing, and cross-country skiing.
Check out the botanical garden.
The Paradisia Alpine Botanic Garden is a nice place to go if you want a less strenuous excursion. You can get a close-up look at Alpine flora in this 10,000 square metre garden in the Aosta Valley.
The best time to visit is between mid-June and mid-July, when you may either take a guided tour or explore on your own utilising the garden booklet.
How to travel from Turin to Gran Paradiso National Park
At Gran Paradiso, a number of distinct valleys provide entrance to the park. Valsavarenche and Valle di Cogne in the Valle d’Aosta are the most well-known but also the farthest from Torino. Look for activities in the Orco Valley or Valle Soana to cut down on driving time.
How to Drive to Gran Paradiso
Driving is the fastest and most convenient method to arrive to Parco Nazionale del Gran Paradiso, but if you’re not acclimated to Italian driving habits, it may be pretty nerve-wracking.
Driving in Italy is incredibly perplexing/terrifying!
As soon as you leave the congested city streets and swiftly moving highways, you’ll encounter winding, narrow, frequently single-lane roads that switchback their way up the mountains.
I would advise you to pick a different route if you don’t have much driving expertise or steely nerves.
But, here’s how to get by car to Gran Pardiso:
Go to Rivarolo Canavese on your GPS after leaving Turin for Valle Orco. Take road 460, which follows the path of the Orco River, from there. To get to the Soana Valley, use the SP 47 and turn right at Pont Canavese.
How to reach Gran Paradiso With a bus or train
from Turin, you can travel to Rivarolo (line 131 Torino to Rivarolo) or Pont (stations on the Torino Porta Susa train). From there, regular bus routes go to Valle Orco and Val Soana (line 137 goes from Rivarolo or Pont to Locana or Noasca) (line 140 Pont to Valprato Soana).
Incredible Day Hiking from Turin
You might take the same walk we took up Punta Quinseina di Santa Elisabetta if you’re seeking a worthwhile day walk that is conveniently located near Turin. Although technically outside of Gran Paradiso, the walk is close enough to give you the general feel.
You Know? Foodie Travel Advice How to Discover the Finest Food When Travelling
The whole walk, which starts at the tree line and goes up from there, gives you views of the mountains and foothills from a wide angle.No boring, dark, wooded journey where nothing can be seen!
This one is not for you if you don’t like climbing.
It begins with a steep ascent that leads to a stunning alpine meadow. Spend some time admiring the Alps while keeping an eye on the hang-gliders as they soar above your head. Another interesting structure is a tiny stone house, but you should resist the urge to enter. The foundation of the building appears to be weak.
After the meadow, the path starts going up again and keeps going up until it gets to the top.The trail is rocky and a little challenging. For comfort, you’ll need hiking boots with sufficient traction and support.
You’ll be rewarded as you ascend by the consistently breathtaking sights. The most stunning one is found near the summit, where you can take in the entire panorama of Alpine magnificence.
At the peak, a guest book is tucked away inside the tiny cabinet attached to the steel cross. Keep an eye out for our entry, and be sure to add your own!
After reaching the peak, you can walk further up the ridge trail and into the wilderness if you still feel like exploring. We did not continue our walk because we had already walked for a good three hours while ascending.
Accessing Punta Quinseina
The trip from Turin to the trailhead at Punta Quinseina is enjoyable in and of itself. From Turin to Castellamonte, the first leg of the journey is straightforward highway driving (although this didn’t stop us from getting lost and having to go backwards).
There are calm, well-kept country roads that connect Castellamonte to Colleretto Castelnuovo. Stick to the speed limit because there are many speed cameras, especially near the settlements. The penalties aren’t worth roughly €70!
Things start to get interesting after Colleretto Castelnuovo, a quaint sub-alpine town that is worth a visit.
A paved, incredibly congested route exits the city. Soon you’ll be climbing the side of the mountain on a series of narrow switchbacks that appear to go on forever. It is tiny and steep, frequently barely wide enough for one car. You might hesitate to try it if you lack steely nerves and confidence as a driver.
I was not prepared to reverse down that weaving ribbon of road, so it was a blessing that we didn’t encounter any vehicles coming down as we were ascending.
If you begin the trip and feel as though it will never end, remember that the Giro d’Italia riders used this road as part of their route in 2019. Trying to pedal up here must be pure hell!
8 km, 787 m elevation gain, 2,231 m peak elevation, roundtrip, 4-6 hours.
Summary of the walk.
This walk has relatively little flat ground. Mostly, it’s up, up, and up. Only a few actual signposts are present, and most path markings are painted into nearby rocks.
Although it would be simple to get lost on the trail in fog, go when the weather is clear. In fact, even on a beautiful, sunny day, we managed to get off the trail a few times.
Parking and amenities.
At the beginning of the hike, there is a small parking area with picnic tables and a public restroom.
It’s a little challenging to locate the trailhead, and I believe we didn’t manage to begin the walk in the proper location. At the parking lot, take the paved road up until it stops and turn left to find the trail.
A well-known hang gliding launch location is accessible via a road on the left. The dirt road that goes to a small farm is to be followed after this route. Just before you arrive at the farmhouse, turn left into what appears to be the farm’s driveway, and the trailhead will be on your left.
A different trailhead begins directly beside the hang-gliding launch area. The walk begins with a pretty steep ascent and is a little more difficult to locate. Yet since we choose it, it is feasible.
To get the directions, use this link to the AllTrails map.
what to pack.
Bring all the standard hiking equipment you would normally pack on a walk through the bush. Included in this are a first aid kit, a tonne of water, extra snacks, and warm clothing.
Although there usually might be more snow at this time of year, when we went in early June, there was still some snow at the peak. Be prepared to gear up! We started out in t-shirts and by the time we got to the top, we needed winter hats, gloves, sweaters, and jackets.
Be ready for anything because the weather up here can change very quickly.
To maintain balance and protect your knees on the steep descent, hiking poles would be beneficial. We went on the walk without them, although I wished I had brought a pair.
Bring a GPS-enabled device and an offline mapping app as well, so you can get help navigating if you get off the track (like we did a couple of times). If you stay on the trail and don’t stray off, you don’t necessary need a paper map, but having one can be helpful in case your phone dies.
Travels in Gran Paradiso with a Guide
You can hire a guide to plan your trip and drive you to Gran Paradiso if you don’t feel confident hiking the trail alone or if you simply want to up the adventure factor.
Gran Paradiso Mountain Guides Society
different journey lengths and levels of difficulty.
Throughout the entire year, the official park mountain guide organisation is open every day. They are based in the Aosta Valley, but if you don’t want to travel that far, they may arrange an activity for you closer to Torino.
From trekking, canyoning, and rock climbing to snowshoeing, off-piste skiing, and ice climbing, they can lead you on a wide variety of activities.
Spend three days exploring Gran Paradiso National Park with Trekking
Alps for €449 each.
This thrilling excursion, which is rated a 4/5 for difficulty, will immerse you in Gran Paradiso’s wonders and provide you with the opportunity to entirely unplug from regular life (to forge a deeper connection to yourself, naturally).
Mountain huts, which are more akin to rustic hotels with a warm dinner and a comfy bed, are where guests stay when travelling through the woods. You can go on this walk alone or as part of an organised group excursion. Trekking Alps also offers self-guided treks that you can plan.
Mountain Paradise is the perfect place to spend a few hours outside, test yourself on a multiday hike, or go backcountry skiing. This breathtaking region of Italy offers a true getaway, a location where you can immerse yourself in nature and truly unplug from daily stress. It is far less congested than the French Alps.
You can discover whatever kind of adventure you’re looking for in Gran Paradiso National Park.
This quick guide to Gran Paradiso is meant to assist you in making travel arrangements. Your Turin itinerary should include at least one day for seeing this gorgeous park in Italy’s northwest. To make the most of the park, though, we advise staying at least three days if you have the time.