Situation and characteristicsThe Rhön is an upland region lying between the upper courses of the Fulda and the Werra and between the river Sinn and the Franconian Saale. The southern and eastern parts of the area are in Bavaria, the northwestern part in Hesse and the northeastern tip in Thuringia.LandscapeThe numerous isolated hills and larger ranges owe their origin to volcanic eruptions and lava flows of the Tertiary era, which overlaid the older, less resistant limestones and sandstones and protected them from erosion. Depending on local conditions, the hills may be conical or may take the form of plateaus.In many areas there are great expanses of meadowland, with isolated basalt hills rising above them. Pastoral farming, therefore, predominates. The harsh climate and heavy rainfall have led to the development of large areas of moorland.
In the Rhön region, the dissection of the hills by valleys has left only one continuous massif on the watershed, the Hohe Rhön (High Rhön), a plateau region between 700m/2,300ft and 900m/2,950ft covered with grass and high moorland.
To the west of the Hohe Rhön is the Vorderrhön, with isolated hills, either conical in form (such as the Wachtküppel near Gersfeld) or hog-backed (Milseburg, near Poppenhausen).
The highest hill in the Rhön is the Wasserkuppe (950m/3,117ft), the bare slopes of which are a favorite resort of gliding and hang-gliding enthusiasts (German Gliding Museum).
Forested Rhön (Kreuzberg)
To the south of the Bischofsheim and Gersfeld basins lies the Forested Rhön (Waldreiche Rhön), with long ridges covered with mixed forest. The highest point is the Kreuzberg (932m/3,058ft; Franciscan friary).
The Northern Rhön or Kuppenrhön, in Thuringia, is a region of basalt hills between 600m/2,000ft and 800m/2,600ft in height, conical or round-topped in form.
One of the most striking parts of the Rhön is the Hohe Geba range to the west of Meiningen (now a landscape reserve), with the Gebaberg (751m/2,464ft). There are other basalt hills between Vacha and Kaltennordheim reaching heights of between 650m/2,130ft and 700m/2,300ft.