Bletterbach Gorge

Useful Information

Location: Near Aldein, accessible from Auer or Neumarkt. South of Bozen (Bolzano)
Open: Besucherzentrum Geoparc Bletterbach: MAY to NOV daily 9:30-18.
Geomuseum Radein: MAY to JUN Wed, Sat, Sun 15-17:30.
JUL to AUG Tue-Sun 10-11:30, 15-17:30.
SEP to OCT Wed, Sat, Sun 15-17:30.
Gorge: no restrictions.
Fee: Besucherzentrum Geoparc Bletterbach: Adults EUR 3, Children (6-15) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 2, Seniors EUR 2, Disabled EUR 2, Locals EUR 2.
Geomuseum Radein: Adults EUR 3, Children (6-15) EUR 2, Children (0-5) free, Students EUR 2, Seniors EUR 2, Disabled EUR 2, Locals EUR 2.
Gorge: free.
Classification: ExplainGorge
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: GEOPARC Bletterbach, Lerch 40, 39040 Aldein, Tel: +39-0471-886946, Fax: +39-0471-886282, E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.



The Bletterbachschlucht is said to be the largest canyon of Europe, obviously a title which several canyons claim. But the huge canyon, located at the foot of the Weißhorn near Radein, is definitely impressive. In the last years it was developed as a tourist destination and set under protection by declaring it a Geopark. The place is now a geotope and has its own parking lot, museum and visitor center. There are numerous trails through the gorge, which is located between 1,456 m and 1,538 m asl. There are numerous explanatory signs which tell about the various layers of sedimentary and volcanic rocks, which are crossed on the walk.

The geology of South Tyrolia is rather simple on the first glimpse, there is this huge pack of limestone, or better dolomite, which was named after the French geologist Deodat de Dolomieu. And so the mountain range is also called Dolomites after him. But there is much more, there are parts of the basement exposed, with metamorphic and crystalline rocks, and complex geologic structures. But this is the only place, where huge sequences of the sedimentary rocks are exposed over an extremely short distance. This makes this place a geotope of European importance.

The trails start at the lower end of the gorge, with the lowest and oldest layers of rocks. Here is a huge layer called the Etschtaler Vulkanit-Gruppe (volcanites of the Etsch valley group). The rocks are porphyries, volcanic sediments formed during eruptions 280 Ma ago in the Perm. They form vertical canyon walls up to 20 m high.

Above is a huge, 250 m thick layer of Gröden-Formation (Arenaria di Val Gardena, Gröden formation) sandstone. They are younger but still from the Permian. The sandstones are of red colour and show the transition from continental to marin sediments, the transgression of the sea. The lower layers are river deposits, formed subaerial, while this place was continent. It shows typical structures like ripple marks, desiccation cracks, and cross bedding. The upper layers show increasing marine infuence, including the fossils of cephalopods.

Very interesting is the 60 m thick Bellerophon-Formation (Formazione a Bellerophon, Bellerophon formation). It contains evaporitic and bituminous rocks, the transgression of the sea continues.

The uppermost part of the gorge is formed of white limestone, which was the reason why the mountain was named Weißhorn (White Mountain). This is the Werfen-Formation (Formazione di Werfen, Werfen formation), which was deposited during the lower Trias. It is a marine sediment of the Thetys sea.