Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hoge Veluwe National Park

Gelderland, Netherlands

The Netherlands has plenty of beautiful cities to visit, but for those who need a break from Amsterdam, the Hoge Veluwe National Park makes a great day trip. The Dutch have put their own twist on the National Park idea by adding bicycles and Vincent van Gogh to the experience, creating a unique mix of nature and culture.

Biking is a great way to see the park.

Located in the province of Gelderland, this is a nice way to explore the inland area of the Netherlands. While you can drive into the park, I prefer to park at the entrance and continue in Dutch fashion by bicycle. White bikes are available for visitors to use free of charge. I started at the Otterlo entrance, where you can choose to ride (or walk if you prefer) either a short loop or a longer one around the northern part of the park. The path is paved, mostly flat, and well marked with signs to point you towards park attractions. It wanders through sand-dunes, both coniferous and deciduous forests, and grasslands dotted by swampy ponds. You can stop and rest at one of the benches to listen to the many bird songs. My favorite was the cuckoo!

Swampy areas can be good for wildlife viewing.

If you take a longer ride, you can check out some of the wildlife viewing meadows that are spread around the park. Bring some binoculars and see who's out and about.

Approaching some small sand dunes.

As you explore, you will come across several buildings of note. In the north is St Hubertus Hunting Lodge, completed in 1920 and known for its distinctive tower. The lodge is a reminder of the park's origins as a hunting ground owned by Anton Kröller and his wife Helene Kröller-Müller. The inside is viewable by tour and tickets can be bought at the Hoge Veluwe Visitor's Center, which also has interpretive displays and a gift shop.

Another worthwhile stop is the Kröller-Müller Museum. This is the legacy of Helene Kröller-Müller who collected thousands of works of art during the period of 1907-1922. While there are many famous artists represented, it is most noted for being the second largest collection of Vincent van Gogh's work. Since they boast such a large and interesting collection of art, the Kröller-Müller Museum is worth a separate trip if you don't want to be rushed.

van Gogh at the Kröller-Müller.
(image Wikipedia)

I've visited during the winter and spring. The park was pretty quiet, and the weather was chilly with occasional rain showers so I was glad I threw in a sweatshirt, jacket, and gloves. I imagine that the summer is warmer but much busier.

To learn more about the park, visit their website.

Hoge Veluwe Website
Kröller-Müller Museum Website

The run-down:
  • Open year-round
  • Food available on-site
  • Admission and parking charged
  • Bus service from Apeldoorn and Ede-Wageningen train stations. Use the Dutch transit planner to figure out how to get there.
  • Camping available inside the park, as well as in the small towns nearby
  • Arnhem and Apeldoorn are the closest large cities, where there are plenty of hotels
  • Disabled visitors have several options. There are paths suitable for a wheelchair, and special bicycles can also be reserved. With a disabled badge, the car can be brought into the park free of charge. Parking is available near the museums, which also offer wheelchairs to use within the buildings. Further information is on the website.