Most Beautiful Nature Reserve in the Netherlands?

The Veluwe stands for rugged nature, wildlife and being outdoors. A green region in the Netherlands where you can perfectly hike, cycle and enjoy nature.

The rugged Veluwe is probably the most beautiful nature reserve in the Netherlands. Think of deciduous forests, coniferous forests, sand drifts, heaths, but also streams and lakes with low moors. Where countless animals live such as red deer, roe deer, wild boar, fox and badger. But also European adder (also known als European viper), grass snake and smooth snake can be seen. Other rare animals too, recently wolf has even returned to this habitat coming from Germany. While another animal has been reintroduced: European bison. It used to live here as well.

I come from the village of Lunteren, which lies on the border of the Veluwe. I was born and raised there. When I started as a journalist at the regional newspaper, I learnt a lot about the area. I have written many articles about its nature, numerous excursions that you can do, about holiday parks, hotels and other accommodations. On my walks in the area, I also regularly met the animals that live there.

A small marsh at the Veluwe. ©Marco Derksen

The Veluwe is perfect for hiking. But you can also enjoy cycling and camping. In addition to all the sights, I also want to tell you about the most special excursions and things you can do here. And there are plenty of them I know from experience. These are the sights and excursions of the Veluwe.

De Hoge Veluwe National Park

A male red deer on the Veluwe. ©Martha de Jong-Lantink

De Hoge Veluwe National Park is perhaps the most famous nature reserve in the Netherlands. It is a wonderful place for hiking as well as bike rides. At several entrances at the park, you can hop on a free white bicycle and explore via several cycle paths.

This is one of the best places to see wildlife such as red deer, roe deer and wild boar. And maybe even a fox or badger. Here you can also perfectly see the annual bellowing of the red deer. This is possible with a guide, but also on your own. The national park is located in the southwest of the Veluwe. The park has several entrances.

Veluwezoom National Park and the Posbank

The Posbank at the Veluwe.

The Veluwezoom National Park is another well-known part of the Veluwe. In this national park you will find dozens of hiking trails as well as cycling paths. This makes it very easy to explore the park properly. This nature reserve is also a good place to see red deer, especially during the bellowing in the fall.

The best time is around autumn, when the heathland is in bloom. You'll see the small purple flowers everywhere. The most famous sight is the Posbank, a lookout point at a height of 90 meters in the park. On top, you will find a monumental bank and a tea house. Local residents consider the hilly area with moors surrounding the hill also part of the Posbank. Although this is actually the Herikhuizerveld. Veluwezoom National Park is located north of Rheden.

Het Loo Palace

Het Loo Palace.

Het Loo Palace is a famous former royal palace located on the outskirts of Apeldoorn. Nowadays it is a museum that you can visit. Both the interior, the stables and the coach house are worth seeing. The gardens are also worth a visit.

Radio Kootwijk

Radio Kootwijk is an old radio transmitter in the Veluwe.

The monumental transmitter station Radio Kootwijk is a wonderful piece of Dutch history. This building most resembles an Art Deco temple. In the middle of the nature of the Veluwe. You can visit this building yourself and learn all about its unique history. And discover the moors around it via various hiking trails.


The sands of Kootwijkerzand.

Kootwijkerzand is the largest active sand drift in Western Europe. The dunes are about 700 hectares in size. You will find living dunes or sand dunes formed by the wind. The sand is strikingly yellow in colour, making this area one of the most remarkable landscapes in our country.

European Bison at Boswachterij Kootwijk

Boswachterij Kootwijk is a large forest on the Veluwe. Part of this area is the habitat of European bison. These animals have been released here in the past years. The European bison once lived on the Veluwe, but the animal went extinct mainly through hunting. Their habitat also became smaller and smaller. There are excursions where you can visit the animals with a guide. He knows the area and the animals so that you have an optimal experience. The excursion is perfect for photos of the animals.

Schaapskooi Ginkelse Hei

The Schaapskooi Ginkelse Hei near Ede is also well known. The Ede sheep herd with shepherd can often be seen on the moors around the sheepfold. I've seen them dozens of times. Which always results in beautiful pictures.

Popular venues are the Lambs Days in March and the Scheerdersfeest in June. You can see the animals up close. It's perfect for pictures en videos. Keep in mind that it can be very busy.

Schaapskooi Ermelo

A view of Schaapskooi Ermelo.

The Schaapskooi Ermelo is one of the best known in the country. Partly because you can see a rare breed here; the Veluws Heideschaap. There is a Visitor Center where you can also have a drink. Various events are organised each year. You can combine a visit with the Ermelose Heide.

Schaapskooi Hoog Buurlo

The Schaapskooi Hoog Buurlo is one of the most famous sheepfolds in the Netherlands. The sheepfold is located near the hamlet of Hoog Buurlo, which is located in the heart of the Veluwe. A herd of heath sheep still lives here, who spend the night in the sheepfold. Something that has been happening since the 9th century.

You can visit the sheepfold, as well as the shepherd with his flock. Lambs Day at the beginning of March are particularly popular. A visit can easily be combined with the nearby Radio Kootwijk.

Speulderbos and Sprielderbos

Soft light falling through the trees of Speulderbos. ©Martha de Jong-Lantink

The Speulder and Sprielderbos is less known than the national parks. But it does include an immense piece of a protected forest of no less than 3,300 hectares in the Veluwe. Where you can go for a hike. And it is often less crowded in this forest than in the national parks nearby. While the landscape is the same. And you can also encounter wild boars and deer.

Wildarena de Witte Hoogt

An excursion to Wildarena de Witte Hoogt. ©Staatsbosbeheer

The Wildarena de Witte Hoogt is located in the Speulderbos. This open space in the forest is one of the best places to see game. It can only be visited under the supervision of a forester and the so-called electric Speulderbus. You can book various excursions. A tour is very popular as the chance of spotting big game is very high. Be sure to book in advance. 

Renkums Beekdal

The Renkums Beekdal is perhaps the most beautiful stream valley in the Netherlands. The Information Center Renkums Beekdal provides information about the various walking and cycling routes, but also about the history of this stream. It nowadays serves as an ecological connecting zone between the Veluwe and the Rhine river.

The most beautiful trail is the Rondje Beekdal of about 4.3 kilometers. The trail Rondje Paradise of 7 kilometers is also a wonderful walking route. Hikes are regularly offered with a nature guide. In spring you will find an unprecedented amount of flowers here, including various types of orchids.

Signaal Imbosch

Signaal Imbosch is not really known. Surprisingly as it is, with its 110 meters height, the highest point of the Veluwe. This is also the highest point in the Netherlands outside of South Limburg. And according to geologists, it is the highest moraine in the Netherlands. Its lack of fame is probably because it is an inconspicuous mound of sand.

This former sand drift is now forested with conifers. You will find the hill at the Rozendaalsche Veld and the Herikhuizerveld with the well-known Posbank.

Hierdense Beek, Staverdense Beek and Leuvenumse Beek

The Hierdense Beek.

The Hierdense Beek is the longest stream in the Veluwe. This stream rises in the large agricultural enclave of Garderen, Uddel, Elspeet and Speuld. The water collects in the Uddelermeer and ends in the Veluwemeer. The stream travels over a total length of no less than 27 kilometers. The difference in height is only 22 meters.

The name is a bit confusing. Officially it is called Hierdense Beek, but at Staverden it is called Staverdense Beek. And at Leuvenum the Leuvenumse Beek. It still follows the natural course in some places. Surrounded by wet grasslands where many flowers bloom. And where you can see various insects such as countless species of butterflies.

One of the best places to see the stream is the Leuvenumse Bos, owned by Natuurmonumenten. Where you can walk along the stream that flows through the forest here. And where you can see marshy grasslands, with all the flowers and countless animals. Including many insects.

Other Streams and Springs of the Veluwe

Dozens of streams run right through the Veluwe. Some are still natural, although plenty have been dug as well. In particular to provide the farmers with water in the past. Almost all of them are still remarkably wild. Most streams have actually been brought back to a more natural appearance in recent years.

Well-known streams in the Veluwe are the Zilverbeek, the Groevenbeek, the Tongerense Beek, the Soerense Beek, the Renkumse Beek, the Beekhuizer Beek and the Heelsumsche Beek. But there are many more. Many of these can be discovered on foot, in most cases seeing parts of them. The rest of the path often goes through forests or old farmlands.

The Return of the Wolf in the Veluwe

Wolves are spotted on the Veluwe since 2019. Not in De Hoge Veluwe National Park, as is often thought. The wolves have settled in the woods outside the nature reserve. Most wolves have been seen in the north of the Veluwe. In the triangle between Putten, Epe and the national park. They cannot enter the park through the cattle grids and high fences. And the park, which is in private hands, doesn't want these animals either. Because they are afraid that the wolves will eat the mouflon.

Wolves have only recently appeared (again) in the Veluwe. But their arrival has had major consequences for the other animals. Red deer are much more alert than before. Simply because they now have an enemy. This also applies to roe deer and wild boars. As a result, the nature reserve has become more natural. Wolves usually avoid humans and are remarkably silent. You can pass a wolf, while the animal is walking at ten meters.

You have the best chance to see a wolf in the early morning when it is still quiet in the park. You have to be quiet and keep an eye on the horizon as the animals may then be on the road. But you have no guarantee. In fact, you need a lot of luck to see a wolf in the Veluwe. A lot.

Gametasting at the Veluwe

Gametasting at the Veluwe. ©Corno van den Berg

During a Game Tasting in the Veluwe you will learn everything about game such as red deer and wild boar. But also about the background around the hunt. And of course you can taste, in all shapes and sizes.

Tumuli at the Veluwe

You will find countless tumuli on the Veluwe. These centuries-old graves are protected as archaeological monuments. Their shape is striking; usually round or elliptical. And usually about a meter to two meters high. The dead were buried on the ground, or in a pit. Often with some personal gifts. A mound of sand or sod was thrown over it.

The various burial mounds are still there. The best places to see them are the woods in the north of the Veluwe. The Solsche Gat near Drie in the Speulder-en Sprielderbos is particularly known. You will also find plenty at Vierhouten in the Vierhouterbos.

Annual Rut of the Red Deer

Rut of the red deer happens in September.

The rut of red deer is a special scene every year. And in particular the so-called bellowing; where males try to impress competitors with a kind of roar. It can be seen in various places in the Netherlands, including the Veluwe.

Read more about the rut of the red deer

Camping at the Veluwe

The Veluwe has many campsites. From large campsites with a swimming pool to nature campsites that are really in the middle of nature. Where you have minimal facilities, but always toilets and showers.

Logeren Bij de Boswachter

The so-called Logeren bij de Boswachter is very popular. At various locations, you can camp with the forester. These campsites are located in the middle of the nature reserves of Staatsbosbeheer.

Nature Campsites

The most famous is the Natural Campsites. These are often located in a nature reserve. Which makes it remarkably quiet here. And you can easily go into nature. I've done it several times, at Drie as well as Zanderdennen and Nieuw Soerel.

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