By Christa Rolls, USAG Bavaria Environmental Division
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Much of the region around Grafenwoehr has beautiful rolling hills, making way to quaint villages, vast agricultural fields and dense forests.
Just northeast of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, however, is the extinct volcano of Parkstein, jutting out of the landscape and standing out among the smaller hills.
Parkstein sits close to a geological fault line, along with other now-extinct volcanos, such as Waldeck and Rauher Kulm.
While lava and steam do not come out of these volcanoes as they did around 20 million years ago, the slabs of rock deep in the earth underneath continue to move at a slow pace, causing miniscule tremors. While these tremors may be too small to feel, Richter scales can detect them at the lowest levels.
Exploring around Parkstein yields a unique history, one worth visiting and learning more about.
Starting at the Basalt Wall, see how different rocks in various geometric shapes form after a volcanic eruption. Follow the trail to the church at the top of Parkstein for a beautiful panoramic view of the region, and see the replicated remains of what was once a castle atop this hill.
After enjoying time outside, head over to the Parkstein Volcano Museum to learn more about volcanology and the town’s cultural history. Every hour there is a volcano simulation, with rumbling floors, steam and a Richter scale to see how gases in the air change as an eruption nears. Beware, this could be a little frightening for younger children as the simulation is quite intense. Entrance into the museum is 4 euro for adults and 11 euro for families.
The town of Parkstein has tours in both English and German, by appointment through the Parkstein Volcano Museum.
Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this iconic Bavarian village!
For more cool adventures and hikes in the local area, join U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria’s Environmental Division for their monthly hike. Info announced on their Facebook page.