Created in 1989, the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park covers the three former regions of Alsace, Franche-Comté and Lorraine, and more precisely, the four departments that are Haut-Rhin, Haute-Saône, Vosges and the Territory of Belfort. Its area of 3,000 km² makes it one of France's biggest Nature Parks. It contains 14 peaks, including the highest, the Grand Ballon d'Alsace, at 1,424 metres in altitude.
This magnificent protected territory offers some beautiful natural and cultural heritage. On the nature side of things, there is a series of mountain landscapes, ballons (rounded mountain peaks) and high-altitude pastures. There are two treasures: the big ridge that forms the Upper Vosges, with its woodland-covered slopes, and the Mille Étangs plateau in Franche-Comté. High stubble fields, peat bogs, lakes and rivers, and oak, beech and pine forests make up most of these natural landscapes. The fauna and flora are abundant, and typical of the massif: lynx, peregrine falcons, deer, chamois, grey wolves (back since 2011), cranberries, mountain pansies, fringed pinks, sundews... and medicinal plants like arnica.
The Vosges Mountains have been shaped by human activity: water, wood and stone have enabled industry and craft to develop, as evidenced by the many sawmills, granite quarries, textile factories and sandstone tiles that cover the roofs.
When it comes to culture, the Park has 350 "Historic Monument" sites, 2 "Land of Art and History" territories, a dozen remarkable villages and some themed routes: the Ridges Route, Alsace Wine Route, Cheese Route, Thousand Ponds Route, etc.
Lovers of memorial tourism will also be satisfied by the many World War-related sites.
Two thermal resorts await spa fans: Plombières-les-Bains in Vosges, and Luxeuil-les-Bains in Haute-Saône.
The beautiful landscapes of the Ballons des Vosges Nature Park can be explored on foot along the many marked paths, by bike, on horseback, but also on snowshoes or by cross-country skiing in winter… Some superb spots await nature-lovers wishing to enjoy the lush countryside: lakes for water sports, thirty or so natural sites with climbing facilities, via ferrata, fishing or hang-gliding sites, etc.
The Park House in Munster has a permanent exhibition and provides visitors with all the information they need to explore the Park.