Wild Nephin National Park, established in November 1998 it is Ireland’s sixth National Park and is located on the Western seaboard in North West Mayo.
The park comprises of 11,000 hectares (110 km²) of Atlantic blanket bog and mountainous terrain, covering a vast uninhabited and unspoilt wilderness dominated by the Nephin Beg mountain range.
The area includes the beguiling Nephin Wilderness Park. Between Nephin beg and Slieve Carr, at 721 metres above sea level, the highest mountain in the range, lie the Scardaun Loughs.
Hiking and Camping in wild Nephin
One of the main draws to this amazing landscape are the views, what better
way to find them by going for a hike. There are a number of trails within the
park, from the relatively easy loop walk at the visitors centre, to the Bangor
Trail which is only for the most serious of hikers. For a full list of trails
please visit the National Parks Website.
Camping is welcomed at the park and there are also a number of Bothy’s &
shelters that may also be used. These are on a first come first served basis
and anyone wanting to stay in the park overnight must register. Caping
registration and more details can be found on National Parks Website.
International Dark Sky Park
In a major success for the park, in 2016, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) granted Gold Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Wild Nephin National Park recognising it as Mayo International Dark Sky Park. Visit Terra Firma who offer incredible hiking, star gazing and cultural tours of this area.
A Gold Tier classification is an honour reserved for the most exceptional of dark skies and breathtaking nightscapes. This recognition completes the ‘360 degree experience’ that the North Mayo national park has to offer, boasting pristine beauty underfoot, all around and up above.
Wild Nephin National Park is also the first national park in Ireland to be designated an International Dark Sky Park.
Wild Nephin National Park twinning with Yosemite National Park in California
In November 2023 Wild Nephin National Park – Páirc Náisiúnta Néifinne Fiáine was twinned with Yosemite National Park in California, USA. This is part of a five year ‘Sister Park Arrangement’.
The Sister Park agreement will enable international co-operation between both parks to support their shared goals in nature conservation and promoting natural and cultural tourism. Activities under the arrangement will include information exchange, collaboration and sharing good practice in areas such as community engagement, cultural and visitor service management, forestry and fire management, wilderness and dark sky management and climate change.
The cottage, which was originally home to local man Paddy McCann and his family until their death during the Great Famine, and was restored as a bothy by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) staff over the past year.
Features of the National Park
To the west of the mountains is the Owenduff bog. This is one of the last intact active blanket bog systems in Ireland and Western Europe. It is an important scientific and scenic feature of the National Park.
The National Park also protects a variety of other important habitats and species. These include alpine heath, upland grassland, heath and lakes and river catchments. Greenland White-fronted geese, Golden plover, Red Grouse and Otters are just some of the important fauna found within the Park.
The park itself part of the Owenduff / Nephin Complex Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). These European designations are part of the Natura 2000 Network. They protect rare and important habitats and species under the EU Habitats and Birds Directive.
Ballycroy Visitor Centre at Wild Nephin National Park
The Visitor Centre is the main Information Point for Wild Nephin National Park. It opened in 2009 and has welcomed visitors from all over the world to Ballycroy and County Mayo.
Relax and enjoy the hospitality at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre which houses an interactive exhibition, experienced guides, Ginger & Wild Café. One can also enjoy the accessible Tóchar Daithí Bán Nature Trail from the centre (2km).
They run Special Events throughout the year and regular Guided Walks and Kids Clubs during the Summer months. Keep an eye on their News & Events page for upcoming walks, talks and activities.
Email: [email protected]; Call: +353 (0)98 49888
Address: Ballycroy Visitor Centre – Wild Nephin National Park, Gortbrack South, Ballycroy, Co. Mayo, F28 RX77