The entire Piatra Craiului National Park is located in the Meridional Carpathians, and it also includes parts of the neighbouring mountain passes Rucar - Bran and Rucar - Zarnesti. The Piatra Craiului National Park stretches over the counties of Brasov and Arges, including areas belonging to the towns of Zarnesti, Moeciu (Magura and Pestera villages), Bran, Rucar and Dambovicioara. A special conservation area, covering 4879 hectares (Brasov 2624 hectares, Arges 2255 hectares), has been established inside the national park, including the scientific reserve of 683 hectares ( Brasov 443 hectares ; Arges 240 hectares ).
The special conservation area also includes 4 karst areas: theZarnesti Gorges in Brasov County, the Dambovicioarei and Brusturet Gorges in Arges County and also a protection area with the status of natural monument on 1.5 ha (the Bats Cave). In addition, an area of 1189 hectares where grazing is forbidden, is located inside the special conservation area. The rest of the park’s area, 9849 hectares constitute the national park area.
The geographical location of the Piatra Craiului National Park places the territory in the temperate climate area, within the region of transition between the western continental and the more extreme continental climates. Some of the area is located in the mountain climate sector, the high mountains sector. Generally speaking, the massif’s climate is not too different from the other neighbouring mountains’ climate. However, the orientation, the altitude and the massif’s configuration have determined several particularities.
The mainly calcareous geology of the Piatra Craiului massif is characterized by the impossibility to retain infiltration or running waters to create phreatic water reserves and, in the end, to form water flows. This is why while the valleys crossing the massif’s body are dry; the only watered valleys are located at the foot of the mountain: Barsa, Dambovita, Dambovicioara, with some of their tributaries.
The rivers inside the national park belong to two main watersheds: The Olt river watershed to the North and the Dambovita watershed to the South, separated by the following route: La Umeri - Grindu Peak - La Table - Sasu Hill - Sterghiori Peak.
The invertebrates fauna is particularly rich counting 35 endemic species and 91 species identified as new to science. We mention two endemic species for Piatra Craiului: Nesticusconstantinescui (Arahnida) and Rhagidiacarpatica (Arahnida, Acari).
The Piatra Craiului National Park also holds a rich bird fauna, including the 111 species identified so far, in the territory, rendering the area an ideal destination for bird watching. Many of these species are strictly protected by the Bern Convention - The Convention for European wildlife and natural habitats protection (law 13 of the 11th of March 1993) and by the Bonn Convention - regarding the conservation of wild migratory species (Law 13 of the 8th of January 1998).
Over 40% of the 100 mammal’s species found in Romania live here. Up until now 21 species of bats have been identified in caves or old tree hollows throughout the national park. Many of these species are included in the strictly protected species category, according to the Bern Convetion, 6 of them are listed in the European Council Directive 92/43 EEC (Rhinolophusferrumequinum, R. euriale, Myotisbechsteinii, M. blythii, M. myotys, Barbastellabarbastellus) and one species - Vespertiliomurinus - is included in the Bonn Convention. We should mention as well the fact that all bat species are protected in Romania, according to Law 90 of the 10th of May 2000, regarding the adherence of our country to the Agreement concerning the bats conservation in Europe settled at London on the 4th of December 1991.
The Piatra Craiului National Park also holds a large population of large carnivores: bears - Ursusarctos; wolves - Canis lupus; lynx - Lynx lynx. Studies conducted so far have revealed the presence of three migration corridors, used by these species, between the Piatra Craiului and Bucegi massifs. These corridors will benefit from special protection status.
The richness of the species inside the Piatra Craiului National Park is the result of the extremely diverse conditions the territory provides for the development of the vegetation. The altitude exceeding 2200 m provides the appropriate development conditions for almost all of the Carpathian Chain alpine and mountain species. The forests, bare rocks, scree slopes, meadows and swamp lakes, ensure the particularly rich botanical diversity. The fungi, moss, lichens and flower plants species find here a real paradise. A total number of 1170 plant species and subspecies have been identified throughout the national park’s territory. Taking into account the fact that Romania’s flora records 3136 species, it can be said that the Piatra Craiului National Park is home for 30% of the superior plant species in the country. 181 species have been included into the "Red List of superior plants in Romania" as endemic, rare or vulnerable species, proving the importance of the Piatra Craiului National Park from the point of view of flora species conservation, namely the Carpathian endemic species.
Among these species we name only the best known, which enchant the eyes of nature lovers visiting Piatra Craiului during summer. These species benefit from a strict conservation regime: garofitapietreicraiului (Dianthus callizonus) the symbol of the Piatra Craiului massif, this mountain being the only place in the world to house this species, Taxusbaccata, Angelica arhangelica, Nigritellanigra and N. rubra, Papaver alpinum ssp. corona-sancti-stefani; Linaria alpine, Leontopodiumalpinum, Troliuseuropaeus, Rhododendron mytifolium, Gladiolus imbricatus, Gentianalutea, Daphne blagayana, Daphne cneorum, etc.
The Piatra Craiului National Park houses an impressive number of mountain orchids 48 species out of the 53 species found in Romania. But don’t expect to find the exotic orchids from the warmer climate countries. The orchids in the temperate areas are small and less spectacular looking, yet they represent one of the most endangered plant groups worldwide.
Due to the sharp angle of the mountain slopes, the vegetation layers, formed according to the altitude are very noticeable here, the massif being surrounded, from the bottom towards the ridge, by hay fields, forests, bare rocks and alpine meadows.