Photo: Rafters on the Tara River, Montenegro

Rafters navigate the Tara River in Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park, home to Europe’s deepest gorge.

Photograph by Amel Emric, AP

Name: Durmitor National Park

Location: Montenegro

Date Established: 1952

Size: 131 square miles (339 square kilometers)

Did You Know?

• Highs and Lows Durmitor National Park includes the enormous Durmitor Massif and three breathtaking canyons, including that of the wild Tara River, which is home to Europe’s deepest gorge at 4,265 feet (1,300 meters). Rivers flow under the park as well. Waters from Black Lake, the park’s largest, travel below the Durmitor Massif to the upper canyon valley of the River Komarnica. The park is also dotted with more than a dozen sparkling lakes.

• Woods The park is thickly forested with both deciduous and pine forests—including one of Europe’s last virgin stands of black pine near Crna Poda. These trees are more than 400 years old and tower some 160 feet (50 meters) high.

• Grazing Lands In summer many of the park’s high pastures are home to grazing sheep and cattle owned by the 1,500-some people living within the park and by others in the nearby village of Zabljak.

• Mountain Overnights The high plateau can be reached by numerous trails and has three shelters for those who’d like to overnight: a hut, a refuge, and a bivouac.

• Climate The park sits in the Dinaric Alps, at a wide range of altitudes from 1,475 feet (450 meters) up to over 8,200 feet (2,500 meters). The Mount Durmitor Massif boasts 50 peaks above 6,560 feet (2,000 meters). Because of these dramatic differences in altitude and the park’s geographic location, Durmitor has both Mediterranean (in the valleys) and alpine microclimates.

• Flora Dozens of endemic plant species thrive in Durmitor, many mountainous holdovers from a colder era. On the massif’s lower slopes are blueberries and wild strawberries from June to October.

•  Fauna The park is home to 163 different bird species and a wide range of newts, frogs, and lizards. Larger fauna include wolves, wild boars, brown bears, chamois, and eagles.

How to Get There

The Durmitor area is rather remote; bus (or auto) is the primary means of access. The park is some 3.5 hours from Podgorica and 10 hours from Belgrade by bus.

When to Visit

The high mountain village of Zabljak, on the border of the national park, is Montenegro’s largest ski resort. In summer hiking, cycling, fishing, swimming, boating, and other pursuits take center stage. Crowds are often thinnest in the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn. The top event on the park’s annual calendar is Mountain Flowers Day, a festival held in mid-July.

How to Visit

Rafters and kayakers can enjoy a unique thrill on the 42-mile-long (68-kilometer-long) run through the Tara canyon’s almost impossibly steep and deep gorge.

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