Our first stop on route to the amazing mountain range was an overnight at Lago de Santa Croce, unfortunately the weather was a bit overcast but we had a nice park up for the night and we enjoyed a tranquil walk down to the lake with views over towards the looming mountains.
We continued north and found a lovely wild camping spot in the nature with great views, close to the town of Erto. The scenery already amazing as we began to get surrounded by mountains. We stayed here for a couple of days to get some work done and enjoyed being in the nature finally after all the busy lakes and towns we’d visited recently.
Coordinates to our first awesome wild spot: 46.2659 12.3334
We headed north and made a slight detour to the supermarket and as it was getting late found a unexpected great park up in the town of Calalzo di Cadore, this hidden gem with the beautiful Lago di Cadore has a little nature park with small streams, pools, waterfalls and quaint wooden bridges. The pools looked lovely but are icy cold. Later we found a small private area where we could get into the beautiful lake. The temperature of the lake was divine, just right for a dip and the views over towards the pine forests and mountains made this the perfect spot for a natural nature swim, the water was so tranquil and calm and the jagged Dolomites in the distance was just wonderful.
Our next stop was Cortina, and after a brief stop in the town to the tourist information centre and a wonder around the upmarket resort, we headed up to Monte Cristallo. It was a fairly steep drive but Vinny made it up this one with ease. There was a large cable car parking with many other campers but we decided to continue and try and find a quieter spot in the nature. We found a fabulous spot with epic views down the valley and with great views of some more jagged mountains.
Coordinates to this great wild camp spot: 46.558498 12.2166
Over the next few days we did a number of great hikes in the area all with breathtakingly gorgeous scenery. Each day the weather was fabulous in the mornings so we tried our best to get up as early as possible because by the afternoon it became quite cloudy with rain and frequent storms.
Our first hike, next to the spot we spent the night took us straight up towards the jagged cliff face that loomed over us, we made a slight detour to a mountain hut which was really cool with its own water fountain, BBQ area and log chopping station, we thought how lovely it would be to end a long days hiking camped out in the perfect little mountain lodge. We hiked our way through the pine forest higher towards the cliff with awesome views, crossed a stream that could easily become a river if it was to pour down and came to a clearing where we took the drone out for an arial view of the stunning surrounds. Nick saw a snake and it started to rain so we decided this was the time to start heading back down the mountain!
The follow day it was very overcast and we chilled in the morning waiting for the weather to clear. It didn’t really clear so we decided to head off on a hike anyways and choose the panoramic trail walk, a highlight of the area, it was a lovely walk through the alpine trees with trickling streams following the path zigzaging up towards the view points. Unfortunately as it was still overcast, the view was obscured by the low clouds. We had some view of the mountains with an atmospheric mist hovering over everything and we could see back down to the town of Cortina through breaks in the clouds, another bonus was we had the whole place to ourselves so it wasn’t bad. We had to turn and head back once the visibility turned to only a few meters ahead of us, we were very much in the clouds!
We drove to the other side of the pass to checkout the lake. It was fairly busy as it was the weekend but we found somewhere to park and enjoyed a stroll around, the road continued to get steeper as we drove on and we got a little worried about the van so we decided this was as far as we would go and stopped by another pretty lake for some food and to let Vinny cool down! As the sun dropped in the sky, we had great opportunity’s for some awesome reflective photos over the lake and towards mountainous scenery. We drove back to our original park up and made a small campfire which was difficult as everything was quite damp, but with determination we managed in the end and we had a nice relaxed evening.
Super Summer Dolomite’s pass
This is a pass for all of the chair/ski lifts and cable cars within the whole of the Dolomite’s Mountain range. You can get the pass for a day/3 days or a week and altogether there are over a hundred lifts to choose from!
We were very excited to be going to the peak of several of these amazing mountains in one day and we woke up early to get the first chair lift as soon as it opened. We’d tried to research the lifts we wanted to do but it was difficult as there’s so many to choose from. We decided we would try and do around 5 if we had time. As we’d spent several days in this area, looking up at the peaks, we thought we should get the first lift from where we were.
We had an awesome day and in the end managed 4 lifts, we missed judged the journey time to the last lift unfortunately and it was closed by the time we arrived but we were really happy with what we’d seen on the other 4, each lift was different and the views spectacular, each offering its own unique experience. The highest peak was Tofano Mountain where we had to take 3 separate cable cars to reach the peak of 3244m, the doggies were able to come with us up this one and it was an experience and a half for them as us of course.
Our favourite lift of the day was the Cinque Torri, it was just wow! as soon as you got to the top of the chair lift you were greeted with awe inspiring views everywhere you looked, it was incredible and we thought to ourselves we would definitely have to come back here in the future and spend the whole day, it quite literally blow our minds!
The last one we did was Lagazuoi, this was another cable car, it was the longest, steepest cable and very high! The scenery at the top is completely different to the others with more of a Luna landscape and again just breathtaking, offering incredible walks through the valleys of white rocks, definitely a surreal experience. You feel a little bit guilty as you watch the hikers who had spent hours hiking up these mountains as we calmly stepped off of the cable car to the highest points.
It was a truly remarkable day for us and well worth the money we spent on the pass (around 45euros for the day pass) We could have quite easily spent the whole day up each peak, and thought how great it would’ve been to get the 3 day pass!
Our next park up was almost perfect, just off a quiet road, not far from a small village, again surrounded by breathtaking views with a little stream flowing just a few meters from the van. There are so many great little free park ups to be found around the whole area, Park4Night App is a great way to find these little gems if you don´t stumble upon your own hideaway! We chilled out for a couple of days and it was good to give the van a rest as he’d been struggling a little with the crazy steep roads we had put him through just lately. We enjoyed the area and took a nice walk through the moss filled pine forest and bathed in the icy cold mountain stream.
Our final destination of the Mountain range before heading into Austria was the Pordoi Pass. Which involved another ridiculous road comprising of 25+ hairpins, it was another mountain climb of more than 2000m and this time the van managed very well. The Pordoi Pass again offered outstanding views in all directions and numerous excellent hikes.
We again spent a couple of nights here after finding our own little camping spot away from the other motor homes and campers visiting the area, It was down a little quiet no though road with an old military memorial at the end, we had undisturbed beautiful views everywhere we looked and a nice grassy area for the boys to play right outside the van.
The best hike in the Pordoi Pass and probable the best hike we’d done of the trip, took us up to a plateau and along the edge of the mountain where there’s views down the valley way below and across to the snow capped mountain running parallel to the one we were hiking along. This walk continues as far as the eye can see, but after a couple of hours we felt the views couldn’t get any better and we were starting to get hungry, after reaching a refuge which had fabulous views down to the distant lake and though the valley where we had driven passed over the previous days, we decided to start heading back. A great hike to end our Dolomites experience.