The Apuseni Natural Park is a protected area located in western Romania in the administrative territory of the Alba, Bihor and Cluj counties. This Natural Park covers a total area of 758 km2 (~293 sq mi) of mountain peaks, cirques, caves, valleys, karst areas, forests and pastureland. It was recognized as a European Destination of Excellence in 2009.
There are many identified invertebrates within the park, some newly discovered and others endemic to the region. Particular examples are the various types of cave-dwelling beetles, which are generally vulnerable to any human impact.
The Aries River and its tributaries host over 15 fish species and 10 amphibian species have been identified, including the fire salamander and yellow-bellied toad. There are many bird species, including the lesser spotted eagle, golden eagle and red-footed falcon; and mammals include wolves, brown bears, red and roe deer, wildcats, polecats and otters. It is thought the bear population, numbering just 21, may well be at risk at present.
Out of 29 known bat species identified in Romania, Apuseni National Park is home to 19.
Hiking and climbing are the most popular activities: the park features two main tourist trails from which a network of others runs, linking all the most important visitor attractions within the park. All are marked and vary in length and difficulty. Several are accessible by skiing during the winter; some are prohibited.
There are a variety of caves and potholes, some of very significant interest, to explore in the region. Of particular note are the Scarisoara and Focul Viu Ice Caves and the Bears' Cave. Permits may be required for visiting some caves.
Other features include the Rachitele and Bohodei waterfalls, the Galbena Gorges and the Garda Seaca and Sighistel Valleys, amongst others.