Bükk National Park
Bükk National Park (or Bükki Nemzeti Park) is a special place. It is the highest national park in Hungary. It sits on a plateau at least a thousand feet above the rest of the Hungarian countryside, encompassing some 95,775 acres of pristine forests and mountains. Here, the air is pure and you can hear the plants and trees rustle and whisper in the cool breeze. Nearly 97% of the park is wooded, interspersed with meadows and bogs and enlivened with seasonal waterfalls and creeks. There are more than 90 species of nesting birds in the park, among them Imperial eagles, hawks and Ural owls; and the flora is just as rich and varied, from steppe prairie and scrub forests in the lower realms, to Austrian oakwood forests and short-stemmed highland beechwood in the upper reaches, generally above 1,500 feet.
Yet, Bükk National Park is more than simply a nature preserve. It is a veritable cornucopia of geological marvels and prehistoric relics, an archeological treasure trove. From the bright white stone, rhyolite-tufa, which can be traced back to the seismic shifts millions of years ago; to remains from prehistoric and Paleolithic cave settlements thousands of years ago; to a series of castles built atop hills hundreds of years ago and subsequently razed to ground during the Rákóczi War of Independence. Here, then, is an area bursting with historical and geological discoveries. There are actually more than 400 caves in the park, among them the deepest one in Hungary, the Istvan Lápa Cave, as well as the most famous and prolific of them all, the Szeleta Cave, which alone has yielded hundreds of thousands of ancient artifacts. As you walk through the park, you'll find both remnants of castles and karst formations, together with a bounty of indigenous flora and fauna.
There are also leftover narrow-gauge railroads in Bükk National Park, primarily from the mining era of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some of them still operate, and are well worth riding. Of particular note among these forest trains of yore are the one at Szilvásvárad and the Miskolc to Farkasgördõ-Örvénykõ line.
Bükk National Park lies north of Budapest and can be reached via Miskolc. Accommodations are plentiful in the communities surrounding the park, even though there are none within the park.
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