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Gerlos Alpine Road, a path to the gold treasure

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Gerlos Alpine Road, built as the path to the gold treasure of the Ziller Valley, is an important mountain pass which connects two Austrian federal states Salzburg and Tyrol. Located in the heart of the Hohe Tauern National Park, this mountain road offers a varied opportunity to explore the alpine landscape between the town Krimml and the Tyrolean Ziller valley.

Gold transport route

Gerlos Alpine Road was built between 1960 and 1962, by the plans of Franz Wallack, an ingenious builder of the most famous Alpine Road in Austria - Grossglockner High Alpine Road. The construction of this 12-kilometre, two-lane road with eight serpentines and a maximum slope of nine percent, lasted two years. The enthusiastic Alpinist knew how to integrate the road into the landscape so harmoniously that it appears as a part of it.

The history of the roads over the Gerlos pass is longer. The first cart road was built in the 17th century, on the spot of an old mule track in order to transport the gold found in the Ziller Valley, over a "domestic" terrain to Salzburg. Until then, the only road led through the foreign countries Tyrol and Bavaria. In one year, about 70 workers completed this 3,5 m wide road. However, over the years, the floods and landslides destroyed this cart path to the gold treasure so much that only the footpath remained.


An absolute highlight of Gerlos Alpine Road and a magnet for visitors are 380-meter high Krimml Waterfalls. From each car park on the section of the road leading over the Gerlos Pass, you can see Krimml waterfalls. At the top of the pass, you can see rare raised bogs, almost extinct acidic, wet habitats, wholly rain-fed, that are home to flora and fauna that can cope with extreme conditions. The construction of the road through raised bogs proved to be difficult. The road had to be dug four meters over a length of 1.5 kilometres until it hit a solid ground.

The entire route was built on the 40 to 60 cm thick anti-freezing layer to make the road absolutely winter proof, therefore it can be used all year round. However, the best time to experience the Alpine Road is between May and October.

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Gerlos Alpine Road leads directly through a holiday area - Zillertal Arena. Around 400 km of well-marked hiking trails await you in the well-developed mountain region. The tours of different lengths take you to the mountain inns and up to the summit regions of the Hohe Tauern. In winter, the Zillertal Arena becomes one of the most visited ski area in Austria and part of the world’s largest skiing valley.

The mixture of driving, nature, hiking and skiing in winter makes Gerlos Alpine Road, a former cart path to the gold treasure, one of the most visited panoramic roads in Austria.

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The author

Ogi Savic

Ogi Savic

I am Ogi. A journalist and economist, I live in Vienna and I am passionate about skiing, traveling, good food and drinks. I write about all these aspects (and more) of beautiful Austria.

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