Table Mountains National Park (Park Narodowy Gór Stołowych) Poland

It is really odd to approach the Table Mountains for the first time.  Suddenly one sees a mountain in front but it is absolutely flat.  It is as though a mesa from Arizona had been dropped and planted in Europe were it not for the rich vegetation and forests.  The  mountains are part of the Sudetes range found on the Polish - Czech border.  The national park was created in 1993, the Park covers an area of 63.39 square kilometres (24.48 sq mi), of which forests accounts for 57.79 km². The area of strict protection is 3.76 km².

The landscape of Stołowe Mountains began to form 70 million years ago. The range’s unique shape is a result of hundreds of thousands of years of erosion. There are several notable rock formations, among them Kwoka("Hen"), Wielblad ("Camel") and Glowa Wielkoluda ("Giant’s head"). Also, there is a sophisticated system of corridors which creates rock labyrinths.

Plant life is mostly made up of spruce, which was introduced to the area on the turn of the 19th century to replace pristine beech and fir forests, which had been cut. Original woodland is scarce and covers only around 3% of the forested areas. There are peat bogs, one of which (area 393,000 m²) was listed as a strictly protected area in 1959. In the forested areas of the park there are deer, red deer, wild pig, squirrels, hedgehogs, many birds and reptiles including lizards and adders.

Tourism to the area started in the nineteenth century with the railway and the opening of spas such as those at Kudowa, Duszniki and Polanica were opened. Duszniki is also a center of paper production – one of the first paper mills in Europe was opened there in 1605