The national park is located on the south of Croatia, stretching in the area of the highest parts of northern Velebit. It includes strict nature reserves Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi, specific geomorphologic phenomena in which so far more than 150 caves have been discovered, of which the most famous is Lukina jama (Luke’s pit), 1421 m deep, one of the deepest in the world. Within the park there are also a botanical reserve Visibaba (Snowdrop) and botanical reserve Zavižan-Balinovac-Velika kosa. Within the Park there is the famous Velebit Botanical Garden, founded in 1967, which includes as many as 500 plant species.
It was declared a national park in 1999, due to the diversity of karst phenomena, the wealth of wildlife and exceptional natural beauties on a relatively small area of 109 km2. In the Park area there are still places where no man has entered yet, which confirms the preservation of plant and animal species, and the authenticity of the wild and unspoiled nature.
The area of Velebit is a mosaic of diverse habitats: forests, grasslands, rocks and rare aquatic habitats. Forest habitats cover by far the largest area of the Park (more than 80% of the area). Most of Velebit pastures were created with the the hands of people for the purpose of grazing livestock and growing food. The livestock trampling and grazing prevented the growth of woody species, and those that still managed to grow people manually removed. The National Park also contains a variety of plant and animal life, the beauty of surface and underground karst formations. Within the borders of the Park are located and hydro geologic karst phenomena, from sources, streams to lost rivers as well as a pair of old ponds here known as Greek wells. From underground karst forms great value have deep pits some of which are in the group of deepest caves of the world. In the Park there are also very rare aquatic habitats, vital to aquatic organisms. The most important and most interesting aquatic habitat represents a tangle of creeks and little rivers in Štirovača, the only part of the park with a waterproof surface, and the only source of drinking water as well as the only streams in the Park area. There are several ponds (Borove vodice, Žive vodice, Lubenovačka ruja …) that people have built, or arranged the natural wetlands.
Velebit is not special only because of its natural values, but also for its very rich cultural heritage, the disclosure of which continue even today. In the Park area there is a path built in the early thirties of the last century. Many consider it a masterpiece of architecture. It was declared the monument of landscape architecture, because of the easy and simple way that it introduced in the most inhospitable and capricious, and at the same time the most magnificent parts of this mountain. It is called after its designer Premužić path.
There are also many old folk roads, and the summer huts so-called “Flats” which at the present time as monuments testify to the thousand-year cohabitation of man and this mountain.
Northern Velebit is an ideal destination for those who prefer active holiday and recreation in untouched nature with a sense of primeval wilderness. There is over 30 hiking marked trails. Almost each of the paths takes you to mountain peaks which are also beautiful vantage points, both on sea and islands, and Lika as well. Existing hiking trails and paths are suitable for other activities such as hiking and mountain climbing. Through the Park and around it goes also the network of partly gravel, partly paved roads that can be used for bicycle tours on Velebit. The dynamic changes of the landscape, the diversity of plant and animal life along the capriciousness of the weather provide exceptional scenes for photography. In order to ensure better understanding of natural and cultural resources in the Park there are programs: multimedia presentations, half-day guidance, full day guidance, educational programs for children “Small green workshop”.
The National Parka Northern Velebit, and Krasno as a seat of the Park Administration and main starting point for visiting the Park, is easily accessible from the directions of bigger Croatian cities. From the capital Zagreb, Krasno is 170 km away. From the continental part the easiest way to reach Krasno is by the highway at the exit Otočac.