The land of maars and volcanoes
The landscape that stretches across the West Eifel, from Staatsbad Bad Bertrich on the River Mosel to the Goldberg Mountain near Ormont on the Belgian border, is unique in Europe, maybe even in the world. There is currently no active volcano here but earlier volcanic activity has left indelible traces that have turned the landscape into a lesson on geological history. We don’t know when it will erupt again. The geological conditions for an eruption still exist and volcanologists agree that volcanic activity in the Eifel is only in a dormant phase; it is not extinct.

The “West Eifel Volcanic Field” does not only attract volcanic researchers and geology fans from around the world working on various different research projects; this region, known as the “Vulkaneifel”, is also popular as a tourist destination. Volcanic cones, mineral water springs, a unique concentration of natural phenomena and especially the maars are what draw people to this landscape in the heart of Europe. The Daun maars and the Mosenberg-Meerfelder maar volcanic system mean that the “Vulkaneifel” includes two locations designated “Germany’s most important geotopes”.

The region has set itself the task of combining earth science, or geoscience, with tourism, thereby stimulating interest in different areas, be they gastronomy, art, culture, sport or leisure. By focusing strongly on the landscape’s geological heritage without forgetting the integrity of living nature, the Vulkaneifel geopark hopes to contribute to the sustainable development of the region.

 

The Vulkaneifel is known nationally, across Europe and internationally
The Vulkaneifel is not alone in being able to make this claim. In 2000, three pioneering regions from Greece, France and Spain, in addition to the Vulkaneifel, decided to form the European Geopark Network together. Today this network includes 34 geoparks across 13 European countries.
UNESCO supported this development and in 2004 founded the “Global Geoparks” network, a clear sign to the rest of the world that the geological processes and phenomena on our planet will be more extensively included in our contemplation of nature than was previously the case. The Vulkaneifel is proud to have been allowed to bear the UNESCO title of Global Geopark from the very beginning.
In the meantime, regions in Germany with a special geological history have been receiving more attention. Together with the East Eifel volcanic field, the Vulkaneifel has been awarded the title of “national geopark” by the Alfred Wegener Foundation in conjunction with the Ministry for Education, Science and Research.

International recognition as a European and Global Geopark is both an honour and a strong incentive to further develop earlier work in geological public relations, establish geological museums and walking trails, set up information boards, protect and preserve the geotopes as well as develop geo-touristic packages in conjunction with local policies and tourism agencies.

 

Vulkaneifel Nature Park’s official inauguration in 2010
May 31st 2010 was the official inauguration ceremony for the Vulkaneifel nature park, the eighth nature park in Rhineland-Palatinate, including a speech and official designation as a nature park by Margit Conrad, State Secretary for the Ministry for the Environment, Forests and Consumer Protection in Rhineland-Palatinate.

The new nature park, with its maars, volcanoes and diverse cultural landscapes, has a unique natural quality to it. These provide excellent conditions for sustainable development by combining ecological land use with regional added value, green tourism and economic development.

 

All year round
The geological museums (Eifel Volcano Museum in Daun, Maar museum in Manderscheid, Volcano Centre in Strohn, Natural History Museum in Gerolstein) have signposted geo-routes that have various geological focuses, e.g. volcanic activity, Devonian and red sandstone, mineral water or Middle Devonian limestone, as well as the Eifelsteig trail and the other trails that go through the Vulkaneifel and cycle trails; they all lead to the Vulkaneifel’s geological treasures. In 2008 the “German Volcano Route” was set out, going over the Vulkaneifel into the volcanic East Eifel and round Laach Lake, linking all of the Eifel’s volcanic landscapes.
Guided walking tours, excursions and special geological-themed events as well as numerous outdoor adventure packages are offered all year round.