Turkey’s National Parks

Most people considering visiting Turkey don’t automatically think about Turkey’s national parks.  Since there are over 80 of them, maybe you should.  Let’s take a look at some of Turkey’s national treasures.  

Mount Ararat National Park
Mount Ararat National ParkAt the top of the list would probably be Mount Ararat National Park.  With over 88,000 hectares, each 10,000 square metres in size, Mount Ararat National Park is very, very large.  This area has biblical connections and is believed to be the final resting place of Noah’s ark.  There are very few mountains taller than Mount Ararat, a mountain formed by a now dormant volcano.

Much of Ararat is perpetually snow covered.  The national park has many different facets, depending on what area you visit and the mountain actually has two peaks, Great Ararat and Little Ararat.  You don’t have to be an extreme mountain climber to enjoy the national park.

Hiking, biking and canoeing are just some of the activities that can be found around the volcano’s base.  There are also many great restaurants and you can also book day or week bus tours throughout the area.

Dilek National ParkDilek National Park
Another Turkish park you should spend time in is Dilek National Park.  Located near Kusadasi, this park gives you the option to enjoy beautiful forests or spend your days on a variety of beaches.  You can drive much of the park, but you might want to rent a small boat and explore the many shoreline coves if you are a bit more adventurous.   

Goreme National Park
You will find one of the most unusual landscapes in Goreme National Park, located in the central part of Cappadocia.  This park is known as one of Europe’s most extraordinary national parks and the unusual landscape and formations draw visitors from across the globe.  You’ll see rock mushrooms, domes, chimneys and pyramids.  Many visitors recommend setting up a picnic to watch how the sunset interacts with the landscape.  You can also hop a ride on a hot air balloon to slowly float over a park that looks like the set from a science fiction movie.

Aydin-Buyuk Menderes National Park
Tree and plant lovers should make their way to Aydin-Buyuk Menderes National Park.  Located in the province of Aydin, the park sits between the towns of Kusadasi and Soke.  Here you will see plants that are rarely found anywhere else.  This is also the only known location where pirnal oak and Finike juniper trees are found in the same place.

The bordering lake is also an important breeding site for sea turtles and Mediterranean seals and much of the low park areas are an important delta.

Balikesir-Kuscenneti National ParkBalikesir-Kuscenneti National Park
Bird lovers are flocking (excuse the pun) to Balikesir-Kuscenneti National Park.  Perhaps the fact that the name translates to “Bird Paradise” has something to do with it, but we’re guessing it’s the migrating bird species from all over Europe and Asia.  This park is where many bird species lay, hatch and raise their young.  With over 200 bird species spending time in the park, you’re bound to find a few favourites among the three million annual flying visitors.

Canakkale-Gelibolu Peninsula Historical Park
The United Nations has Canakkale-Gelibolu Peninsula Historical Park on its list of Parks and Protection Areas.  This park is located along the southern edge of the Gallipoli Strait and is globally known for the battle artefacts and cemeteries found here.  You can snorkel over and around many sunken war ships or walk near trenches, towers and even castles that were key to historic battles here.  

Canakkale-Gelibolu Peninsula Historical ParkAt best guess, there are over a half million war dead buried in the cemeteries here.  Half are thought to be Turks and the others English, French, Australian and others.  Most of the dead were lost during the Canakkale Sea battles of the early 1900s.  

You’ll probably notice several archaeological projects underway as portions of the park continue to be discovered, but already unearthed artefacts have been dated back several thousand years as this was a key area for defence and invasion.

You’ll also have the chance to enjoy a salt lake and there are some very unusual geological shapes that dot the landscape as well.

Ilgaz Mountain National Park
If you are short on time, but want to enjoy a day of skiing, then you’ll enjoy Ilgaz Mountain National Park.  In the winter here, you’ll find a very small ski resort with two slopes surrounded by thousands of acres of black pine trees.

You can hike here year around and there is plenty of wildlife, including wild boar, wolves, foxes and deer.  Ilgaz Mountain National Park is located in the Central Anatolian region of Turkey and this is one of the few areas of Turkey that sees a lot of rain or snow.

Artvin-Hatila Valley National Park
Artvin-Hatila Valley National ParkArtvin-Hatila Valley National Park has a very unusual “V” shape and beautiful waterfalls.  Long ago volcanic and tectonic activity in the area created an amazing and narrow space where some valley slopes are almost vertical.  

Here you might see eagles, sparrow hawks, foxes, badgers, jackals and more than a few snakes.  But, don’t be surprised at the families of wild pigs roaming around.

As you can see in this brief article, Turkey has a broad national park offering that provides for all of the nation’s residents and visitors.  There are very few other locations in the world where you can find such amazing diversity in a national park system and Turkey is understandably proud of hers.


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