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Map of Croatia
Locals once called this isolated corner of Croatia "Lika", or "Land of the Wolf." Since 1949, it has been known as Plitvice Lakes National Park, or the "the land of the falling lakes." Wolves still stalk the forested shores of the 100-square mile protected area. And remarkable waterfalls still punctuate the landscape with their staccato roar.

The park is located 87 miles southwest of Zagreb (the closest major airport), and 60 miles southwest of Karlovac (the closest major bus terminal). There are several small villages within the park and a total of about 2,500 people live within it year-round.

Join the hundreds of thousands of people that visit Plitvice each year and explore its wonders:

Plitvice lakes
The park's 16 lakes cover nearly a square mile and are divided into Upper Lakes (1) and Lower Lakes (2). The Upper Lakes are the first 12 lakes and include the park's two largest water bodies: Kozjak and Prosce. They are also the deepest lakes, reaching nearly 150 feet.

The final four lakes are known as the Lower Lakes, and have different geologic origins than the Upper Lakes. While the Upper Lakes sit on gently sloping dolomite bedrock, the Lower Lakes are in a deep, steep canyon carved from limestone. Informed travelers hike uphill from the Lower to the Upper Lakes for head-on views of the best panorama.

A waterfall
Waterfalls (3) abound, ranging from splashers -- just a few feet high -- to a 200-foot-tall tumbler along the Plitvica stream.

Elegant beech trees make up more than 70 percent of Plitvice's forests (4), with evergreen firs making up much of the rest. Some of the park's forests are among the most undisturbed in Europe, and have been set aside as special reserves.

Just above Kaluderovac Lake, one of the Lower Lakes, a dark tunnel leads back into the mountainside. This is Supljara Cave (5), formed by water seeping through and dissolving the porous limestone. Look closely, and nearby you can see ancient fossil clams that once lived in the shallow sea that covered this area millions of years ago.

While the park is best known for its forests, it also boasts several large grasslands (6) -- named Homoljacko polje and Karleusine Place -- of interest to biologists. Here, visitors can sometimes find dozens of rare plant varieties and wildflowers nodding in gentle breezes.

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