Paklenica National Park was established in 1949 and includes a section of the Velebit Mountains, the park occupying approximately 95 square miles. Much of the area is covered by one of the largest forests on the Adriatic coast but also 37 caves, the most famous being the Manita Pec, 170 meters long and 39 karsts springs.
Name of the park is probably due to the black pines (paklina) that grows in the mountains of the area. Locals used to cut down trees to build houses and boats or to make traditional medicine.
Paklenica National Park hosts over 1,000 species of plants and flowers and the lakes are rare. National Park eastern mountain slopes are covered with mixed forests, the pine forests of Panklenica Mountains being one of the largest black pine forests in southern Europe. Extraordinary is that mountains are home to over 84 species of multicolored butterflies, including the peacock-butterfly, which is the largest butterfly in Europe.
Many caves in the National Park Paklenica are truly a paradise for speleologists, including some rich stalactite formations such as the one of cave Manita Pec, but also monumental objects, such as the ones found in cave Crljrna Kuk and Lucinka.
Velika Paklenica Canyon and the seasonal watercourse that crosses it, is the most spectacular and popular attractions of the park. The walls of the canyon are approximately 700 feet above the rocky platform. In the area near the entrance of the canyon there are some old military bunkers, where Yugoslavs communicated through a network of underground tunnels. The fortifications were open to the public and are one of the tourist attractions of the region.
Velebit mountain range, with a length of about 145 km, is a mountain range which belongs to Dinaric Alps and extends along the Adriatic coast. The mountains are home to one of the deepest caves in Europe – Lukina Cave, measuring 1,421 m depth.
Northern Velebit National Park is famous for its scenery and virgin and dense forests which are home to many bears, while the National Park Risnjak includes limestone rock formations and forests of beech, spruce and fir, as a refuge for lynx. One of the most visited and beautiful lakes are the Plitvice Lakes, otherwise known as the most beautiful national park in Croatia.
Between the park borders there are 16 picturesque lakes connected by waterfalls and deep canyons, the scenery being lovely.
Velika Paklenica Canyon and the network of bunkers near the entry are the most popular tourist attractions in the reserve. Visitors can take a tour of the Manita Pec cave or climbing the peak Anica Kuk. Mala Paklenica canyon is more difficult to access and to explore nearby, requires experience.
Paklenica National Park protects the natural and cultural heritage of the Velebit Mountains – a mountain range on the sea coast of the Dinaric Alps, waiting for the tourists to discover its beauties and mysteries.