Vorarlberg is both a geographical border region, bordering Germany, Switzerland and the principality of Liechtenstein, and a geological border region. Here, where the Rhine river flows, the Eastern and Western Alps meet, and here the European central watershed between the Black Sea and the North Sea is located. This encounter characterizes the natural scenery of the province. Here, you can find more green and lush pastures and a more varied summit scenery than in other Alpine regions.
Flysch, Nagelfluh and limestone formations
The Bregenzerwald region features three rock zones: Flysch (sandstone) and Nagefluh (a conglomerate) in the North, limestone in the South. It is striking that the landscape is terraced, rising constantly. Ridges looking like plateaus and gentle hilltops at an altitude of approx. 1,000 m characterize the Northern parts. Towards the South, the mountain become higher and higher – up to the 2,649-m Braunarlspitze peak which is the highest mountain of the Bregenzerwald region.
Differently colored limestone makes for rugged summits and partly even karstified landscapes in the South, such as the Hohe Ifen, the Hohe Freschen and the prominent Kanisfluh mountain. Another typical feature of the varied scenery is the contrast between gently rising southern slopes and rocky and steep northern slopes. An impressive example of such a contrast is among others the Diedamskopf mountain close to Au-Schoppernau which ranks among the most beautiful vantage mountains of the Bregenzerwald region.
The Alps and alpine cheese
The cultivated landscape is primarily preserved by the farmers of the Bregenzerwald region. The reason for this and the particularity of this is the three-stage cultivation of the pastures. After the snowmelt, the cattle graze the pastures in the valley. Then they move to the Vorsäß which is a kind of middle station and in peak summer they are on the alpine pastures and afterwards they go back again step by step. The advantage of this “nomadism” is the optimum use of the pastures besides the preservation of the cultivated landscape. Moreover, alpine pastures with their multitude of different herbs provide the healthiest feed for dairy cows. Thus, the milk is particularly tasteful and aromatic and is an ideal basis for the flavorsome alpine cheese of the Bregenzerwald region.
Rain is a present
Thanks to the advantageous location on the northern edge of the Alps, the Bregenzerwald region is one the regions with the highest precipitation rates in the alpine region. In winter, the snowfall is above average with up to 10 meters on the average per year in high villages, such as Warth and Damüls. In summer, the rain makes for lush and green pastures both in the valley and up in the mountains and it feeds the brooks, rivers and mountain lakes.
Forests and moors
Natural mixed forests – primarily beeches, firs and spruces – are typical of the Bregenzerwald region. Wood plays a major role in architecture and artisanry. Furthermore, the region boasts a great number of swamps and highmoors. Interesting facts about the importance of moors are provided in Krumbach. The moors of Krumbach have been made accessible under the name of “moore Krumbach” and thus an artistically created area of nature has been created. Moor guides accompany you across the moor, moor innkeepers offer moor drinks and other specialties.
Hiking with gorgeous views
In the varied landscape, many kilometers of hiking paths can be found, leading to mountains and summits, to the Alps, to mountain lakes and along rivers and streams. A myriad of themed hiking paths provide information and stories about regional particularities: the Energy Path in Langenegg, the Barefoot Path in Bizau, the path through the Holdamoos herb garden in Au.
Guided day tours are offered in many villages. Hiking tours without luggage lasting for several days can be book at the Bregenzerwald Tourismus tourist office.