Rodna Biosphere Reserve
Spanning an area of 47,000 hectares, the Rodnei Mountains National Park is Romania’s second largest national park and one of the most important in terms of protected wildlife and landscapes.
The most significant nature reserve in the Rodnei Mountains is the Pietrosu Mare Reserve, which was declared by UNESCO a Biosphere Reserve in 1979. The area is one of the only three Biosphere Reserves in Romania, along with the Danube Delta and the Retezat National Park.
Containing several protected zones within its premises, the national park was established in 1990, although the first time areas of the park were declared nature reserves was 1932.
The park straddles the border between two well-known Romanian traditional areas, Maramures in the north, and Bistrita in the south.
1100 plant species grow in the Rodnei Mountains National Park, of which many have a scientific importance. Fauna includes the Carpathian stag, chamois, marmot, lynx, deer, bear, boar, trout, mountain eagle, and the western capercailzie.
The Pietrosu Mare Biosphere Reserve stretches over 3300 hectares on the northern slopes of the Rodnei Massif, and it’s the largest nature reserve in northern Romania. The highest peak in the park is found here, Pietrosu, 2303 meters. Covered by glaciers during the last ice age, this pristine natural area bears the mark of glaciations everywhere. Terrain features include several glacial cirques, such as Zanoaga Mare, Rebra, or Buhaescu, glacial valleys, and several glacial lakes, such as Iezerul Pietrosului and the Lakes Buhaescu, I, II, III, and IV.
The Piatra Rea nature reserve is a protected area situated near the town of Borsa, known for the rare species that grow here, such as the edelweiss, willow gentian, lungwort, and the fescue.
The Poiana Narciselor (Daffodil Meadow) Nature Reserve, located on the Saca Massif at an altitude of 1600 meteres, is a beautiful mountain meadow covered by a brightly colored carpet of daffodils and other rare flowers.
One of the best ways to explore the Rodnei Mountains National Park is on horseback. The tourist center in Beclean offers guided riding tours of the park that take several days and include attractions such as Poiana Narciselor, Lake Lala, and the Ineu, Ineus, and Rosu peaks. Activities include traditional lunches at sheepherder’s shelters and guided observations of wildlife.
The Rodnei Mountains are the source of several mineral water springs with curative properties. The Sangeorz Bai resort provides spas, pools, and other facilities, while mineral springs can be found in many of the villages surrounding the park, such as Rodna, Romuli, Parva, and Maieru.
Cultural tourism is especially developed in the Maramures side of the park and the nearby areas. Maramures is one of the last thriving rural cultures in Europe, where a traditional lifestyle that revolves around woodworking can be observed at every step.
In the area
Most tourists visiting the Rodnei Mountains National Park choose to also visit Maramures, and it’s easy to see why – beautiful rolling hills, ancient villages where traditions and customs are still the norm, the sky-piercing wooden churches included in the UNESCO World Heritage, wildlife, historic monuments, and above all, the feeling that you are travelling back to a more peaceful time.
How to get there: The park is accessible from Borsa in the north, where you can get from Baia Mare, or from Sangeorz-Bai and Beclean in the south, accessible from Bistrita and