Deep in the heart of Austria’s Hochschwab mountains lies an ever changing park full of natural beauty. This park goes through more than your usual seasonal changes of autumn leaves, snowy paths and blossom. The mountain peaks throughout the winter months are capped with ice and its surrounding area is a great county park full of nature trails for walkers. Yet, this all changes when the temperatures start to rise in spring. The mountaintops thaw and the meadows of the park become engulfed with icy mountain water. The foot of the mountain then transforms into Gruner See, literally meaning green lake.
Gruner See is a spectacular sight, its green colouring gives it a distinctive beauty and wonder. The unique green colour is not from dirt or algae but from the fresh grasses and flowers that grow beneath the water. In June, when the water level is at its highest, divers take on the cold waters to admire the beauty found in the depths of the icy watery world. Beneath the surface of the mountain lake lies a still image of the alpine flowers and grassy meadows that lie at the foot of the Hochschwab mountains. You are able to observe the grassy lands on the edges of the Gruner See lake and in its depths lie the parks nature trails, benches and bridges that are completely engulfed by water in summer. The park becomes essentially an icy watery world, appearing untouched by people and engulfed in a new underwater paradise.
The park appears still and picturesque underwater in its summer months, but it is by no means warm! In fact, if you want to explore the underwater phenomena you will have to brave the cold waters as they are rather chilly and only reach a mere 4-8 °C. It may be summer, but this doesn’t mean you should be grabbing your bikini in any kind of hurry! Divers take on the rather cold water in professional diving equipment and swim to the bottom of the lake to explore its natural and bazaar beauty.
Gruner See is probably the most spectacular lake you will ever see. Made from the melting peaks that cause water to run down into the basin of land below giving us this wonderful emerald green view! In the winter months the lake is almost a mere pond at only 1-2 meters deep, but in the heights of summer the lake transforms and reaches 12 meters in depth and full of alpine life.
In July the watery beauty begins to recede but while the park is submerged you can see the lakes fully flourished meadows! The lake is home to a variety of life, small creatures such as snails and crabs and different species of fish including trout. However, this lakes life relies on the varying water levels which are only provided with the thawing of the snowy mountaintops this coupled with the lakes rocky floors makes it hard for an abundance of life to be maintained. By the time the lake has appeared in its full the squirrels will have defiantly run away to the tree tops, leaving the fish and other alpine wildlife to take over!
This lake may seem mystical, but there is some science behind it! It’s simple, in the winter the lake is small and the majority of the water is in the icy mountain tops. When the spring comes around the warm temperatures melt away the snow making the lake bigger and engulfing the basin of land that lies at the bottom of the mountain. As the summer months pass the lake begins to recede again back to its smaller size and the cycle repeats itself.
Gruner See is a lake of natural beauty. The surrounding green of the forest reflects onto its waters and the grassy lands below making it a spectacular emerald-green. In the winter when the lake is at a smaller size wildlife still inhabits the waters, but in the summer the fish just basically get a bigger house, all pretty and green!
The underwater icy world is Austria’s unlikely diving spot. The lake is one of the only places in the world where you can see alpine flowers submerged in water! Its popularity is no surprise, and it’s no wonder divers flock here to see this awesome place. However, not everyone can just turn up for a swim! In order to take the plunge divers must be pre-certified before exploring either independently or as part of a guided group dive. As long as you are prepared for the cold temperatures from the lakes snowy source, Gruner See has some great scenes to offer! There is also loads to learn with classes such as underwater photography that take place here giving divers some of the most amazing photography opportunities. There are also underwater biology classes to learn more about the natural beauty of the wonderfully green lake.
We can all agree that Gruner See is an amazing place. However, like everything with natural beauty it must be protected, after all it is a spectacular place! Due to the increasing tourist visits that have occurred and the knock-on expected environmental damage, all water sports have been prohibited on the lake since January 2016. So, there will be no wild water skiing here! Instead we can all enjoy its natural wonders, walk its trails and observe its emerald waters. Afterall, there aren’t many places you can wonder on land in winter and then swim across in summer!