The Pinzgau, through which the River Salzach flows, extends eastward from the Gerlos pass to the Gasteiner Tal, bounded on the north by the Kitzbühel Alps and on the south by the national park of the Hohe Tauern. Beautiful lateral valleys sculpt their way up into the mountains to north and south, carrying important traffic routes, including the road over the Thurn pass, the Felber-Tauern Road, the road through the Saalach valley and past the Zeller See to Saalfelden and the Grossglockner Road. The Pinzgau joins the Pongau at the point where the Salzach turns northward beyond the mouth of the Gasteiner Tal.
Wald im Pinzgau, Austria
Wald im Pinzgau (885m/2,904ft; pop. 900) is a summer and winter sports resort at the junction with the old road from the Gerlos pass. Beyond the village to the south towards Mittershill there are magnificent views of the mountains and glaciers of the Grossvenediger group. An excursion to the Krimmler Falls is strongly recommended.
Fluorite Demonstration Mineshaft
In Wald im Pinzgau the interested visitor can see the Fluorite Demonstration Mineshaft. Fluorite is a common mineral, calcium floride. It is the principal source of fluorine. Fluorine is the most reactive nonmetallic element and is used in fluorine dating. Fluorine dating is a method of determining the providence of fossils.
Neukirchen am Grossvenediger, Austria
Past Wald im Pinzgau is Neukirchen am Grossvenediger (856m/2,809ft; pop. 2,100), an idyllic holiday and winter sports resort in the upper Pinzgau with a Late Gothic church (14th C. fresco) and Schloss Hochneukirchen (16th C.).
One hour's walk to the southwest of Neukirchen, at the mouth of the Sulzbach valley, are the impressive Sulzbach Falls.
A modern chairlift runs northward from Neukirchen up the Wildkogel (2,227m/7,307ft; upper station 2,093m/6,867ft; skiing area), from which there are superb views.
Farther down the valley past Neukirchen am Grossvenediger lies Bramberg (824m/2,704ft; pop. 3,000), with a Gothic parish church (Roccoco altars; Virgin c. 1500) and a small local museum. The ruins of the Weyerburg, a castle which once belonged to the Bishops of Chiemsee (Bavaria) is also worth seeing. There are leisure facilities here - tennis courts, hang gliding school, cycling tracks and a nature trail.
Mittersill (789m/2,589ft; pop. 5,000), chief town of the upper Pinzgau and a winter sports resort, lies in the Hohe Tauern national park. Notable are the two Baroque churches (c. 1750) and the castle (rebuilt in 1532 after being destroyed in 1525, during the peasant wars and now privately owned). To the east of the town stands the church of St Nicholas (1479; sculptures of c. 1500; Baroque high altar). The Felberturm houses a local museum of minerals. There are schools of mountaineering and cross country skiing, and a ski slope nearby with numerous lifts.
The Felber-Tauern Road, constructed in the 1960s, runs 16km/10mi southward to the Felber-Tauern Tunnel (5.2km/3.25mi long; highest point 1,650m/5,415ft), which cuts through the Tauern massif. The road (toll payable) provides a route, open throughout the winter, into Eastern Tirol and Carinthia. From the far end of the tunnel it is 15km/9mi to Matrei.
Following the Salzachtal farther eastward from Mittersill we reach Uttendorf (804m/2,638ft; pop. 2,700), a summer resort at the mouth of the Stubach valley, with handsome peasants' houses and a lake suitable for swimming.
From Uttendorf a beautiful road (17km/10.5mi) winds through the Stubach valley to the Enzingerboden (1,468m/4,817ft; power station). From there a 4.4km/2.75mi long cableway ascends by way of the Grünsee to the Weisssee (2,323m/7,622ft, containing 16million cubic m/21million cubic yd of water), from which it is a half hour's climb to the Hinterer Schafbichl (2,352m/7,717ft). The Rudolfshütte (2,315m/7,598ft; upper station; Austrian Alpine Union Instruction Center; mountaineering courses) is the starting point for skiing and climbing expeditions.
Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse, Austria
The road throungh the Pinzgau continues past Uttendorf via Niedernsill and Piesendorf, passes a side road to Zell am See and reaches Bruck an der Grossglocknerstrasse (758m/2,488ft; pop. 3,700), a resort with a busy passing trade. Note the parish church of St George (19th C. Gothic Virgin); and Schloss Fischhorn (13th C.; rebuilt in 1920 following a fire). The Kapruner Tal branches off to the south past Piesendorf, and the Grossglockner Road runs southward from Bruck to Heiligenblut.