The Nature Park Eisenwurzen, located in the Austrian province of Styria, is part of the Northern Calcareous Alps. Geotourism has a long tradition in the area. As early as 1892 the Kraus Cave of Gams, one of the most splendid gypsum-bearing caves of Europe and the first one in the world with electric light, was opened to the public. In recent times, the adventure of experiencing 250 million years of Alpine history has given new impulses to tourism in the region, which has suffered from extreme depopulation in the past decades.
Scientists have been aware of the magnificent geology of the region since the early 19th century. It might be mentioned that one geological time interval (about 235 to 230 million years ago) of the Triassic period has been named theAnisian stage after a section of rocks close to the Enns River, which was called Anisius fluvius in Roman times. Two permanent exhibitions: the museum of the Second Vienna Water Supply Line, which benefits from karstic springs in the area, and the GeoCentre of Gams, which provides an overview of the regional geology. The GeoTrail and GeoBike, a demanding bicycle trail, provide in-situ evidence of geological phenomena: rocks, fossils as well as formations reflecting the incredible forces at work during the building of the Alps. Traces of the Great Ice Age are prevalent. The Waterloch Gorge, which originates at a large karstic spring, provides deep insight into the geological activities of water. This most powerful of all geological agents may be explored in the Water Park of St. Gallen and at GeoRafting, which combines science with adventure. The GeoWorkshop serves all activities related to the preparation of geological items.
The recognition as a member of the European Geoparks Network in 2002 has provided new momentum. Funded by the EC programme LEADER+ and Interreg, challenging geotouristic projects will be established in all communities of the Nature Park in the future. This will be an important step towards a sustainable development of the region.