There is a huge open space viewing gallery outside the visitor's centre with magnificient views of the mountains and Grossglockner Glacier. There are binoculars here for those who wants to have a closer view of the surroundings. It is very cold here due to the surrounding snow mountains and the fact that you are 2369 metres above sea level. Below is the link to the live 360 degrees webcam which shows the viewing gallery and the surrounding mountains and glacier.
Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse is open only in summer and unfortunately you need to pay for use the road. It is great to drive to the top and enjoy the landscape. There are also marmots, funny to watch them and they are used to the tourists, so dont run away but get curious.
When we arrived here at the Glossclockner we were not alone - there are so many tourists here arriving by coaches - private cars and motorbikes. Most people take the little shuttle bus up to the Kaiser Josefs-Hohe visitors centre. I could see the mountains from the observation terrace of the car park and didn't feel the need to join the crowds. We ventured off on one of the trails instead looking for the wildlife - we did find some wild flowers among the grass slopes but the marmots were missing - they were probably beneath the restaurant at the upper observation point. Ibex are a rare sight but can be spotted around here but on such a hot day they were probably miles away up high with cool air. We did see a lake far below with gorgeous blue water - this is an artificial lake named Margeritze. The lake collects melt water from the mountains hence its vivid colour and forms part of the storage power station cap run. . A pleasant walk in a quiet place away from the crowds - we didn't even hear the traffic on the road far below.
The Grossglockner Snow capped Mountain Peak stands in the heart of the Hohe Tauren National Park towering to a height of 3,798 metres. Here you will find over thirty mountain peaks ascending to 3,000 metres which count among the highest in the eastern Alps. The mountain scenery is totally stunning and awe inspiring. I loved the fresh air feeling created by the wonderful mountain air, the vastness of the mountain range which made me feel so small all viewed framed by blue summer skies
Opening times for the National Park are 28th. April - 15th. June 6.00am - 20.00 - 16th. June - 15th. September 5.00aam - 21.30 - 16th. September end October 6.00am - 19.30
Day tickets cost 28 euros for a private car - Motor Bikes18.00 euros - coach groups 4.50 euros adult 2.30 euros child minimum tariff for coaches is 27 euros.
When you are moving along the Grossglockner Road, you will notice that there are several beautiful mountain lakes up here which are worthwhile to make a stop and admire their beauty, especially on a good day with no wind (you can see very beautiful reflections of the mountains on these alpine lakes).
The Kitzsteinhorn is a very famous mountain of the Grossglockner Road. This is because it has a good skiing resort which you can go skiing even in summer because of the permanent snow at the glacier up there. Besides skiing, you can do some mountain walking during summer. There is a nice lake at the bottom formed by a big dam, and the town of Kaprun below the mountain is a good base to start you trip up the mountain.
A memorial designed by the internationally renowed architect Clemens Holzmeister is built here in memory of the workers who died during the construction of the Grossglockner Road. This place offers one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the Grossglockner, surrounding mountains and valleys.
When you arrive at the Franz Josefs Hohe viewpoint carpark, you will see some signboards indicating areas where marmots can be seen. What is a marmot? Well, marmots are actually large ground squirrels which live in mountainous areas in the United States or in the European Alps. Marmots live in burrows, and hibernate there through the winter. Most marmots are highly social, and use loud whistles to communicate with one another, especially when alarmed. Marmots mainly eat many types of grasses, berries, lichens, mosses, roots and flowers. I was very lucky to be able to see some marmots at the marmot viewing areas when I was there (see photos). If you want a marmot, then go to the souvenir shop because they sell various types of marmot souvenirs as well as cute marmot stuff toys :)
There is a huge visitor's centre at the Franz Josefs Hohe viewpoint which consist of a few storeys and it worth visiting. There are lots of exhibits, very good cinema showing the beautiful scenery and life in the Austrian Alps, a panorama room where you can experience the mountains surrounding you and the Wilhelm Swarovski Observatory with great views of the surroundings on a clear day.
The highlight of the Franz Josefs Hohe viewpoint area (2369 metres) must surely be the magnificient Grossglockner Glacier. On a clear day, you can see Grossglockner (highest mountain in Austria at 3798 metres) across the glacier at the other side of the valley. If you have the time, it is possible to walk down to a place which is very close to the glacier itself.
The Haus Alpine Naturschau (2260 metres) is a landmark of the Grossglockner Road (see photos). This building is home to the alpine nature film presentations of the Hohe Tauren National Park (plus there is a souvenir shop and toilets here), and the surrounding areas offer spectacular views of the mountains. In addition during spring and early summer, there will still be some ice/snow here and you can enjoy playing in the ice. You can also see many alpine flowers here during summer. For the OBB Postbus number 651 from Zell Am See going up the Grossglockner Raod (see transportation tip), this bus will make a 30 minutes stop at the Haus Alpine Naturschau for passengers to explore this area. If you are driving or in a motorbike, there is a big carpark here so parking is not a problem.
There are several great view points along the Grossglockner Road, especially on a clear day. They are:
Piffkar (1620 metres)
Haus Alpine Naturschau (2260 metres)
Edelweiss-Spitze (2571 metres)
Fuscher Torl (2428 metres)
Hochtor (2504 metres)
In order to know where these great view points are, you can obtain a brochure which include a very detailed map of the region including these viewpoints (in several languages such as English, German and Dutch).
The weather at the Grossglockner Road is very unpredictable due to the high mountains. Even if the weather is very good at nearby places such as the town of Zell Am See, it does not necessarily mean clear weather on the mountains. During the summer months, the mountains usually trap more clouds so you may not be able to see their peaks so clearly, best time to have clear weather are spring and summer.
If you want to see how is the weather at Grossglockner every day at your home or office, you can drop by at this interesting website where there is a 360 degrees webcam for you to have a panorama view:
You can also visit the official Grossglockner website below to find out about the daily weather.
When you move along the Grossglockner Road and enter the valley at the town of Fusch, a world of beautiful snow capped mountains will appear before your very eyes. The famous mountain peaks which you will see on a clear day are:
Hoher Tenn (3368 metres)
Grosses Wiesbachhorn (3564 metres)
Hohe Dock (3348 metres)
Johannisberg (3460 metres)
Fuscherkarkopf (3331 metres)
Sonnenwelleck (3261 metres)
Grossglockner (3798 metres) - Highest mountain in Austria
While visiting the Grossglockner Road, you may want to consider visiting the other attractions near to it, especially the follows:
- Town of Zell Am See (beautiful town next to a lake and surrounded by mountains, popular during winter for skiing and summer for hiking and scenery. Please visit my VT Zell Am See page for more information and photos).
- Krimml Waterfalls (This is the highest waterfalls in Austria. More information and photos are at my VT Krimml page).
- Kitzsteinhorn (this is one of the highest mountain in Austria andis permanently snow capped so you can so skiing there even in summer. The town of Kaprun and the dammed lake at the foot of this mountain are also worth a visit. More information are at http://www.kitzsteinhorn.at