Tatrzanski National Park

The symbol of the Park is the chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra). Its preservation was sought first in 1815. The chamois and the alpine marmots, i.e. "alpine animals", have been protected by law, on and off, since 1869. The current population of chamois is at ca. 160 animals, which, in many opinions, is too low to ensure their survival.
Tatrzanski National Park was established on January 1, 1955. Its total area is 21,164 ha. Land use includes forests - 71 %, waters - 1 %, rocks and pastures - 26 %, arable grounds - 1 %, and urban area - 1 %. Strict reserves comprise 11,514 ha. The Tatra Mountains are one of the areas of Poland included on the World Biosphere Reserves list. A museum of the Park, which presents exhibits of flora, fauna, as well as geology of the Tatra Mountains, is located in Zakopane.

Because of its popularity, the Park is under severe stress year round, with visitors reaching up to 3,000,000 annually. The closest tourist center is in Zakopane, which is located on the Park's border. Zakopane and its surroundings are famous for their highlander folklore, including original folk costumes and characteristic architecture. For this reason, every year Zakopane hosts the International Festival of the Highland Folklore. The Tatras offer many summer and winter outdoor activities. Adjacent to this Park is the Tatra National Park on the territory of the Slovak Republic.

Natural values

The Tatra Mountains is the only range in Poland, which is alpine in its character. It is the highest range of the Central Carpathian Mountains. The mountains rise steeply from a high plateau, and extend for approximately 64 km along the Slovakian-Polish border and in Slovakia, varying in width from 14 to 24 km. There are over 300 peaks identified by name and a measured elevation. Despite the alpine character of the range, there are no glaciers or permanent snowfields in the Tatra range. The highest mountain in the Polish Tatra is Mount Rysy, which raises to a height of 2,499 m above sea level. Another well-known peak in high Tatra on Polish side is Kasprowy Wierch, for it offers excellent skiing conditions until May.

The western part of the Tatra massif, and the north-eastern ridge of Belanska Tatra, are made up of Mesozoic limestone and dolomite, while the eastern part is made of Paleozoic granite. The correlation between topography and geological structure is clearly discernible in the Tatra Mountains. As observed in the western part, water erodes away the limestone and dolomite, flattening the tops, carving deep ravines and valleys, and creating many caves. There are nearly 550 discovered caves, of which Wielka Sniezna cave is the biggest cave in entire country (814 m in depth, about 20 km in length). On the other hand, the resistant granites are weathered into a sharply edged, majestic and towering mountain range. In the Quaternary period, the glaciers also shaped the Tatra Mountains. This accounts for many post-glacial depressions, U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys and moraines, commonly observed everywhere. The picturesque high-lying post-glacial lakes, such as Morskie Oko (Eye of the Sea, 34.5 ha), Wielki Staw Polski (the Great Polish Pond, with a depth of 79.3 m) and Czarny Staw (Black Pond), all filled in the post-glacial ravines, adding to the charm of this Park.


The vertical layering of vegetation is clearly present in the Tatra Mountains. The lower mountain forest reaches to a height of 1,250 m above sea level, and is mainly made up of spruce. The fast-growing spruce trees were planted here during the 19th century, following the clear-cutting of the original beech and fir forests. Above this zone, on the upper mountain level, a fir forest grows. The altitude between 1,550 and 1,800 m above sea level is dominated by dwarfed pine. Mountain slopes above 2,000 m belong to the alpine zone and are covered with alpine pastures, which reach to a height of 2,300 m above sea level. It is in this zone that the Tatra larkspur (Delphinum oxysepalum) may be found frequently during the hike. The loftiest and highest zone is that of the rocky peaks themselves.


The chamois and marmot are the most characteristic mammals living in these mountains. Stag, roe, deer, bear, lynx, and many bird species, including the eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) may also be seen here.

Satellite image of the Tatra Mountains - Polish part (© NEOKART 1994)

Panorama of the Tatra Mountains (© PZA - Polish Mountaineering Association)

Tatrzanski National Park. Chalubinskiego 42a, 34-500 Zakopane, tel./fax +48-18 2063203, 2063579, 2014192, e-mail

Babiogorski NP Bialowieski NP Biebrzanski NP Bieszczadzki NP Borow Tucholskich NP
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Service created: January 1, 1996
Last updated: April 20, 2008