Situation and characteristics
The Bavarian Alps, with their foreland, extend south from Munich to the Austrian frontier and from Lake Constance in the west to the neighborhood of Salzburg in the east. They are part of the Northern Calcareous Alps, behind which, after a zone of slate with rounded landscape forms, the higher Central Alps tower up.
The Deutsche Alpenstrasse runs through the area.
The mountains reach a height of almost 3,000m/10,000ft in the Zugspitze; the main valleys lie between 700m/2,300ft and 1,000m/3,300ft. The foreland consists of a high plateau with numerous lakes, sloping down to the north from some 700m/2,300ft at the foot of the mountains to around 500m/1,640ft and slashed by valleys ranging in depth from 50m/165ft to 200m/650ft.
The Calcareous Alps are relatively young mountains, having been formed by folding in the Tertiary era (some 70 million years ago). The deeply indented valleys which separate the mountain masses from one another were carved out by Ice Age glaciers, which also patterned the Alpine foreland with their moraines and deposits of rock debris. The numerous lakes were formed when the ice melted.
The Alps offer excursions of all kinds. The Pre-Alps - which take in the Ammergau Alps, the hills of the beautiful Isarwinkel between Bad Tölz and the Walchensee, the charming Tegernsee Hills and the Schliersee Hills - offer magnificent forest walks, easy climbs and rewarding views of the plain and the mountains. On a larger scale are the Allgäu Alps, where the retreat of the forests has revealed more clearly the variety of form of the mountains, and the limestone masses of the Berchtesgaden Alps (National Park), whose plateaus (Untersberg and Steinernes Meer) are a paradise for hill walkers. The most impressive mountain scenery is to be found in the Wettersteingebirge, with Germany's highest peak, the Zugspitze (2,963m/9,722ft), and in the wild and rugged Karwendelgebirge.