It was back in 1980 when the Ardèche Gorges Nature Reserve was first established in France. This beautiful and awe-inspiring destination offers a unique Mediterranean experience. The gorges themselves are home to a number of important flora and fauna; some of which are currently protected or are in danger of becoming extinct.
Of course the establishment of the nature reserve was not just about protecting the plant and animal life in the region, but it is also about protecting and preserving the rich history of the region. The Ardèche Gorges had been home to men since the days of prehistory. There have been numerous artifacts uncovered throughout the years which date back thousands of years into the past.
Cirque Madeleine, Ardeche Gorges, France by Jean-Christophe BENOIST
There is so much to see and do when you choose to visit the Ardèche Gorges. And while it may be tempting to camp wherever you feel like, camping is limited to the Gournier and Gaud areas of the park. Upon arriving to the area, take the time to pick up the local guidebook which offers a lot of information about the geology, flora, fauna, history as well as climate of the region.
You will find that there are more than 250 kilometers of hiking trails which are prominently marked throughout the Ardèche Gorges Nature Reserve. For those who do not want to make their way into the gorges on their own, there is also a number of different guided walking tours that will take you into some of the most popular destinations as well as the protected regions within the Park.
Archs, Ardeche Gorges, France by Brian Smithson
For those who are looking for adventure, there are no limitations when it comes to climbing or caving within the Ardèche Gorges. However, if you do plan on going caving or exploring any of the cliffs, it is important that you report your itinerary to guide office prior to going out. Not only is this for your own safety, but it is also due to the fact that there are a number of protected species located in certain areas of the park. The park rangers will be able to inform you of whether or not you will be allowed to go climbing or caving within a certain area.
There is also an amazing 20 mile long canoeing descent into the Ardèche Gorges. This descent includes more than 25 different rapids which makes it a very popular and thrilling challenge for just about anyone. However, there is also a shorter descent which will take you down into the gorge in less than five miles. You may also trek on foot along the canoeing paths which can take you as much as 12 hours to complete.
Archs, Ardeche Gorges, France by Stephane Vervalle
Needless to say that the awe-inspiring views afforded to one who visits the Ardèche Gorges are well worth the trip to the region. Every year countless people make their way to the gorges in order to experience nature in its most pristine and picturesque form.