Where Are the Rhön Mountains Located?
The Rhön Mountains are located in the central region of Germany. The mountain range runs for about 43 miles through a number of states, including Thuringia, Hesse, and Bavaria, and covers a total area of 720 square miles on the southeastern side of the East Hesse Highlands. The Rhön Mountains are surrounded by several types of habitats. For example, the mountains are situated northeast of the Spessart Forest, northwest of the Grabfeld region, and east of the Vogelsberg Mountains. Three major rivers flow near or through these mountains, including the Werra, Franconian Saale, and Fulda. The highest point in the Rhön Mountains is the Wasserkuppe, which has an elevation of 3,117 feet above sea level.
Tourism in the Rhön Mountains
The Rhön Mountains are one of the most important tourist destinations in Germany and are popular among both domestic and international visitors. The mountains offer a range of activities and are typically preferred by outdoor enthusiasts. One of the most commonly practiced activities is hiking, which can be done across approximately 3,700 miles of hiking pathways. Cyclists can enjoy about 1,242 miles of bike paths as well. Additionally, soaring (also known as gliding) is a popular sport in the Rhön Mountains, which involves flying special aircraft with the use of air currents alone. The mountains are also home to a number of ski resorts, which offer downhill skiing, snowboarding, and cross-country skiing.
Wildlife of the Rhön Mountains
The Rhön Mountains are home to an important ecological habitat, and were designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1991. The high altitude environment in the mountains is home to a large and diverse population of plant and animal species.
Most of the mountain slopes here are covered in woodlands, which are home to both common and rare plant species. Some of the most common plants in these mountains include the lily of the valley, wild garlic, and wild chervil. Most forests in the Rhön Mountains are dominated by beech trees or mixed pine woods. Interestingly, the mountain range does not have a naturally all-coniferous forest, which is a forest made up of trees that grow from cones. The mountains are also home to raised bog habitats, open meadow habitats, and grass fields. Some of the most common plant species in these habitats include the greater butterfly orchid, cotton grass, perennial cornflower, and monkshood. The Rhön Mountains are also home to rarer plant species like lizard orchids, bee orchids, and lady orchids.
Animal species in the Rhön Mountains are similar to those found in other mountain environments throughout Central Europe. Common animals found in this biosphere reserve include: the alpine shrew, fox, wild boar, black grouse, water shrew, badger, eagle owl, and roe deer. The mountain range is also home to two endemic animal species (which means they can only be found thriving in this habitat): the Bythinella reyniesii (a freshwater snail) and a species of rove beetle (a large family of beetles with over 63,000 species). Some researchers, however, believe that the same species of freshwater snail in the Rhön Mountains may also be found in France and Belgium.