Our most visited mountain range stretches across the northeast of Bohemia along the border with Poland, which divides it into Czech and Polish parts. The borderline leads along the main ridge, and the Czech Krkonoše (Giant Mountains) take up about two thirds of the total area.
Krkonoše is the highest mountain range in the Czech Republic. The highest mountain, Sněžka, which reaches an altitude of 1,603 m a. s. l. towers over the area and the great European river, the Elbe, starts there as well. This mountain range has alpine characteristics in several areas. Krkonoše’s fame began to spread through Europe in the 18th century when herbalists looking for plants to make medicinal products started to journey deeper into the previously inaccessible mountains. It was also them who spread a previously unknown local legend about Krakonoš (Rübezahl), Lord of the Mountains, whom both children and adults today know from fairy-tale stories.
A considerable part of the Krkonoše falls within the area of the Krkonoše National Park (KRNAP), which was declared in 1963. It has an area of about 38,500 ha, of which more than two thirds are occupied by forested areas. Nature conservation is rightly justified as it is home to more than 300 vertebrate species and more than 1,200 species of vascular plants that are not found anywhere else in the world – so-called endemites. The national park is divided into three zones in which different conditions apply for visitors: in zones 1 and 2 it is prohibited to move outside hiking and skiing trails or to pick forest fruits. “