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Nestled within Pinzgau Saalachtal, in the State of Salzburg, are mesmerizing works of nature showcased at three different sites – Seisenberg Gorge, Lamprecht’s Cave, and Vorderkaser Gorge. Raging water has carved the striking rock formations over the past 12,000+ years into the gorges visitors can walk through today while Lamprecht’s Cave stands as the largest multi-entrance cave in the world. These three sites are known as Saalachtal Natural Wonders, or Saalachtaler Naturgewalten.
Seisenbergklamm (Seisenberg Gorge)
In 1831, woodworkers created a pathway through Seisenberg, a 1,968-foot-long (600 m), 164-foot-deep (50 m) gorge, with the narrowest point being only 2.6 feet (80 cm). Seisenberg Gorge is known as the gateway to Weissbach Nature Park, the starting point of several incredible hiking trails. Historically, firewood was cut in Weißbach and transported via river currents, for salt production in Bad Reichenhall, Germany. The firewood allows the salt to be boiled until it becomes crystalline salt.
The exit of Seisenberg was multipurpose, with a grain mill for farmers running as early as 1560. In the 19th century, the grain mill was converted into a sawmill, and electricity was generated with the help of hydropower. Seisenberg opened to the public in 1925 and was a popular site until World World II broke out. In 1940, a storm destroyed the dams, and reconstruction did not begin again because of the economic hardship of war until 1953. In 1954, the Seisenberg Gorge was successfully completed. In 1974, the site was declared a National Monument.
Since COVID, Seisenberg only allows one direction of traffic, meaning you must do the full loop hike. The route, known as Seisenbergklamm Kleine Runde is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and takes about an hour to complete. The route begins and ends in the car park of Seisenberg.
There are canyoning tours for those wanting to slip into the water and feel just how powerful it is. Although, it is pretty easy to see the water’s power looking down from the pathway! A torchlight hike with a brass band, named “Wasser und Klang,” (Water and Sound) also occurs once a week to bring a completely different experience of the gorge to visitors.
Lamprechtshöhle (Lamprecht’s Cave)
Lamprechtshöhle, or Lamprecht’s Cave, is a unique limestone karst river cave with a depth of 5,354 feet (1,632 m) and is the fourth-deepest cave in the world today. Before the discovery of the Krubera Cave in the country of Georgia in 2001, Lamprecht’s Cave was the deepest-known cave in the world. Lemprecht’s Cave extends out nearly 35 miles (56 km). In 1993, cavers from Poland discovered another entrance to Lamprecht’s Cave at 7,145 feet (2,178 m) above sea level, which does make Lamprecht’s Cave the world’s largest multi-entrance cave.
Legends of hidden gems and wealth were rumored by locals after Knight Lamprecht, who owned a castle in the area, brought back treasures from a crusade. While his two children inherited the treasure, one stole the treasure and hid it in Lamprecht Cave. People searched the cave for centuries to find the fortune. This became such a concern to the government that they walled off the cave in 1701 to prevent treasure hunters from entering.
In 1905, the cave was opened and a handful of human skeletons were discovered, believed to be the remains of treasure hunters. In the same year, a 2,000-foot (600 m) portion of the cave was opened to the public. Today, 2,300 feet (700 m) of the cave can be explored by visitors. This experience will not disappoint, as the sheer size of the cave is jaw-dropping. Through portions of the cave, visitors can also hear the rushing of water that continually reshape Lamprecht.
Vorderkaserklamm (Vorderkaser Gorge)
Located in the Lofer Mountains a short drive from Lamprechtshöhle is a 1,312-foot-long (400 m), 262-foot-deep (80 m) gorge called Vorderkaserklamm. Vorderkaser has been welcoming visitors for over 140 years, first opening in 1882, and expands roughly 6 millimeters every year! In 1977 the stunning gorge became a national monument.
Vorderkaser Gorge contains 51 footbridges and 35 stairways with 373 steps. Interestingly, the path leading up to Vorderkaserklamm is filled with 15 different species of orchids from May to August. The trail is steep but rewarding and takes roughly 1 hour to complete. There is a longer path available if visitors want to spend more time enjoying the nature park. The trail, Vorderkaser Gorge Trail, is 3.8 miles (6.1 km) long and takes about 2 hours to complete.
Following a visit to Vorderkaser Gorge, visitors can take a dip in the natural swimming ponds in the Schiedergraben.
How To Visit
SalzburgerLand’s Natural Wonders is the perfect area to stop when traveling through Salzburg, to or from Innsbruck, Austria. Seisenberg Gorge, Vorderkaser Gorge, and Lamprecht’s Cave are available via a Combined Ticket – €17 for Adults, and €10.50 for Children. Combined tickets can only be purchased in person at each of the 3 sites.
All three sites are located within minutes of one another – with a total driving time of less than 15 minutes. All three sites are also dog friendly! The gorges can be overstimulating for many dogs, though, so I can only recommend bringing your four-legged family member if they are not bothered by louder environments.
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