The area of Paklenica National Park has an exceptional diversity of geomorphological forms.
The most attractive and most valuable parts of South Velebit are surely the impressive canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica.
Velika Paklenica canyon is 14 km long and 500-800 m wide. In its narrowest part around the Bunkers, the canyon is only 50 m wide. Vertical cliffs rise above both sides of the canyon up to a height of over 700 m. The most attractive part is the area around the steep drop of the stream downstream from Anića luka, where steep cliffs rise directly above the stream, forming the narrowest part of the canyon between Anića luka and the parking lot.
Mala Paklenica Canyon is of lesser dimension, and the torrent running through it is much less powerful. It is 12 km long and 400-500 wide. In its narrowest part, it is only 10 m wide, while the surrounding cliffs rise up to a height of 650 m. The pass between the Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica Canyons is formed by a very inaccessible karstic area comprising rocks and cliffs.
The central part of the Park is distinctive for the relief complex of Borovnik and Crni vrh, with the valley of Mala Močila and Velika Močila nearby. In terms of relief, Velika Močila is a very interesting bowl-shaped valley at an altitude 850 m asl, surrounded by Crni vrh (1 110 m asl), Škiljina kosa (1 015 m asl) and Zeleni brig (842 m asl), while Borovnik, named after the black pine forest, stretches along the south edge.
The east part of the Park is very differentiated geomorphologically, inaccessible and wild. Further to the east, this zone of wilderness transforms into an area of milder forms around Malo Libinje and Veliko Libinje, karstic plateaus with numerous pits, the bottoms of which were mostly treated.
The highest area of Paklenica National Park is the narrow ridge of Velebit, 1 to 3 km wide. The highest peak of Velebit – Vaganski vrh (1 757 m asl) is also here.
The geological features of the National Park are visible in the harsh karstic around Bojinac, Vidakov kuk and the plateau between both canyons. There is an abundance of karstic relief forms here, such as cracks, groves, rocky areas, pits, faults and caves, formed by intensive action of water, as well as high temperature differences in the respective seasons.
The area of Paklenica National Park is one of the most completely explored areas in Croatia in terms of speleology. 76 speleological objects are known and have been explored in the Park, namely 39 pits and 37 caves. We will mention some of the most interesting speleological objects in the National Park.
The deepest speleological objects in Paklenica
- Precipice on Bunovac (534 m) is the deepest object in Central and South Velebit
- Cavern in Crljeni kuk (152 m) is very significant geomorphologically because of the dimensions of the underground halls over 100 m in diameter, making it one of the largest underground cavities in our karstic
- Pit in Zub Buljme (139 m) – in addition to its depth, it is interesting as a finding site for a cave bear’s skull
- Pit under Počiteljski vrh (123 m)
- Pit of Beautiful Fossils (103 m)
The longest caves in the Park
- Vodarica Pit (300 m)
- Cave in Zub Buljme (250 m)
- Medviđa špilja (215 m)
- Manita peć (175 m) – one of the most beautiful caves in the park with an abundance of cave ornaments.
- Lucinka Cave (132 m) – it has the highest cave entrance in Croatia (51 m). The interior dimensions of this cave are also exceptional.
Watertight sediments are situated beneath very porous karstic deposits of carbonate rock in the extended part of Velika paklenica, Brezimenjača, and in the spring parts of Mala paklenica and the occasional flow of Orljača.
This is why Paklenica National Park has several permanent or occasional flows and many permanent springs. The permanent springs of high-quality drinking water are Stražbenica, Kontinovo vrilo, Crno vrilo, Velika Močila and Pećica.
The most powerful Velika Paklenica spring is the Ivine vodice well at an altitude of around 1200 m, followed by Kontinovo vrilo at 870 m, Crno vrilo at 780 m, and Jukića vrilo at 600 m. Above Ramić is the Vratrovac spring, and the spring of the occasional flow of Brezimenjača is at around 1000 m. The Suha draga spring is at the same altitude.
The spring of Velika Paklenica normally sinks in the area beneath Anića luka. It flows in its entire length to the estuary into the sea during the rain season in spring, autumn and winter.
The flow of Mala Paklenica springs above Vlaškogradska draga at around 1 000 m, its capacity lesser, depending on the season and precipitation. The flow gradually descends to the parallel flow of Orljača, and the stream is active in the canyon during rainy autumns, winters and early springs, when the torrent flow of Orljača, springing beneath the slopes of Sveto brdo, flows into it at 484 m.
The fenced spring of Staro vrilo is in the area of Velika Močila, as well as a few more seeping streams. They are also present in Mala Močila during the humid parts of the year. In the highest zone of Velebit, permanent water deposits can be found in the lakes beneath Malovan and in Babino jezero beneath Babin vrh.