A Journey through Earth’s Geology
Tourism & Geology - the Fossils of the Altmühltal Nature Park
The trail takes you through shady woods, where half-light seems to play a prank: is there someone lying in ambush among the trees? And what is hiding in the depths of ferns? You step forward carefully… and then you suddenly come face to face with a dinosaur! What now? Run off like the wind? One of the laboratory stations of the museum "Dinosaurier Museum Altmühltal" in Denkendorf explains visitors how fast the predator dinosaur you have just met could have reached you. About seventy life-sized reconstructions along a 3 km barrier-free loop trail and many information boards targeted to children make these stations turn into a real journey to the remotest past. Dinosaur enthusiasts can "pause for breath" in rest spots or on playgrounds before admiring the extraordinary original exhibits in the museum hall. Here, you can make acquaintance of the Altmühltal Nature Park’s "fossil star": the Archaeopteryx, the link in the evolutionary chain that connects pterosaurs to birds. Only 12 Archaeopteryx have been found until now, all of them in the Nature Park. One of them is exhibited in the information pavilion of the Altmühltal Nature Park at the "Dinosaurier Museum Altmühltal". The pavilion (easily recognizable because of its peculiar shape of an ammonite) supplies information on the many geo-touristic offers in the region.
Young dinosaur fans and hobby palaeontologists will feel at home also in the stone quarries open to the public for fossil hunting. During the summer, here you hear hammer blows already early in the day. It is really easy to open limestone slabs, therefore even children can join in this thrilling and unusual treasure hunting. In the Altmühltal Nature Park, there are five quarries and search collecting points. Usually, all the necessary tools can be hired directly on the spot or nearby. Often the diligence of the young searchers is repaid by the discovery of an ammonite, a sand lily or a small fish that have lived millions of years ago. They can take them home as a very special souvenir of their holiday.
All fossils found in the quarries of the Altmühltal Nature Park are exhibited at the paleontological museums of the region. For instance, at the "Paleozoo" (Paläo-Zoo) of the Solnhofen Museum visitors can stroll among different Jurassic biotopes and admire even two Archaeopteryx specimens. In addition, the museum in Solnhofen organizes themed events such as the "Fossils Days" (Fossilientagen), a themed treasure hunting for children, the "Fossil and Mineral Bourse" (Fossilien- und Mineralienbörse) and a museum rally (Museumsrallye). Also the "Fossil Trail" (Fossilienpfad) in Eichstätt is definitely not to be missed: this 9 km tour starts at the railway station and takes to the Willibaldsburg castle, to stone quarries and to the Museum Bergér on the Harthof that hosts the extraordinary fossils found in the quarries belonging to the Bergér Family. The guided tours organized on the "Fossil Trail" are tailor-made for families and provide for an exciting day "adventure".
The peculiar rock formations on the slopes of the Altmühl valley testify to the most remote ages, too. They formed as cliffs in the sea that covered the whole region in ancient times. Some of the places visited during this thrilling journey through Earth’s geology are the Danube rocky gorge (Donaudurchbruch) in Kelheim, with its fast vertical walls high up to 70 m, and the "Schulerloch" cave with stalactites and stalagmites near Essing.
The updated calendar of guided tours and themed events can be requested at email@example.com.
For pictures and more information please contact:
Zentrale Tourist-Information Naturpark Altmühltal
Notre Dame 1 • D-85072 Eichstätt
Phone no. 0049-(0)8421-98760 • Fax 0049-(0)8421-987654
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org • Internet: www.altmuehltal.com