Paklenica National Park is one of Croatia's most diverse national parks especially if you're interested in hiking or rock climbing. Located in the southeastern part of the Velebit mountain range which runs along the central Dalmatian coast, Paklenica National Park covers 102 sq. km and includes one of the largest forests in the Mediterranean. The two outstanding canyons of Paklenica Park, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, show splendid karstic formations.
Paklenica park offers the unique pleasure of combining hiking and swimming the same day. Starigrad is the main jumping off point for exploring the park and it happens to lie right on the Adriatic.
The Velebit mountain range stretches from the Bay of Senj and Vratnik peak (694m) in the northwest to the Zrmanja river on the southeast edge. The valleys of Gacko polje, Licka polje and Gracaco polje lie to the north. There are 130 mountain peaks higher than 1300m and the highest peak is Vaganski vrh (1757m).
Caves are the other mean feautres of the national park. Manita pec cave is open to casual sightseeing but there's also Devnjaca cave, Skilijica stan, Marasovica pecina, the nearly inaccessible caves called Veli Siklop and the Jama vodarica cave.
In addition to walking and hiking, Paklenica is known for its rock climbing. From grade 3 to 8+, there are climbing routes for every skill set. The most formidable rockface is Anica kuk with an altitude of 712m. Most climbers tackle the peak from the plateau of Anica luka at 250m high.
Starigrad is only 45km northwest of Zadar. Nearly all coastal buses stop at Starigrad, making Paklenica National Park an easy day trip by car or bus.
There's a basic mountain lodge in the park for hardy trekkers but most people stay in and around Starigrad where there are several decent hotels. The best is the three-star Hotel Vicko but there's also the three-star Hotel Alan which is all-inclusive and the more intimate Pansion Croatia. Private accommodation is abundant and provides excellent value.
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