Cavaglia Glacier Garden is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Val Poschiavo, located between Alp Grüm and Poschiavo. It is located in the hamlet of Cavaglia, 1,750 meters above sea level.1
Cavaglia Glacier Garden is home to a variety of flora and fauna that thrive in the harsh alpine climate. The glacial mills found here have been shaped over millennia. Surrounding the garden are stunning views of the mountains of Val Poschiavo.
Overview: Cavaglia Glacier Garden
Cavaglia Glacier Garden is a natural attraction located in Cavaglia, Switzerland. Cavaglia can be found in the Val Poschiavo (or Valposchiavo) region of Switzerland. The garden consists of a variety of flora and fauna, glacier potholes, information boards, and panoramic views of the valley.
This garden is unique in the Graubünden region and draws approximately 50,000 visitors every year. It is the most visited attraction in Val Poschiavo and definitely worth visiting if you are in the area.
Although the glacier mills have been shaped since the ice age, it was only in the early 1990s when a team of volunteers began uncovering numerous glacial mills to establish the present-day Cavaglia Glacier Garden. The first glacier pothole was exposed in 1994.
What you will see here is a result shaped by the forces of nature and human endeavor. The Cavaglia Glacier Garden is supported by the association Associazione Giardino dei Ghiacciai di Cavaglia. The association has members that expose new paths, remove rainwater, and maintain the garden.
Cavaglia Glacier Garden: What to Expect
Glacial Formations and Glacier Potholes
In the Cavaglia Glacier Garden, there are several glacier potholes of varying depths and widths. Glacier potholes, also known as glacial mills or giant’s kettles, are cyclindrical cavities formed in solid rock. The glacier potholes are formed when glaciers move downhill, carrying rocks and debris together with ice.
Over time, the mixture of swirling water and rocks carried by the glacier flow with force and speed. It is this vortex-like movement that deepens and widens the cylindrical cavity. As such, swirling water continually cut into the rock surface, creating smooth, polished interiors.
Glacier Potholes can be found in various places around the world such as Sveafallen, Sweden and Rullestadjuvet, Norway. In Switzerland, you can find more in Glacier Garden Lucerne, Maloja Pass, and Zermatt as well.
Val Poschiavo has glacier potholes from its past glacier era from 2.6 million years ago to 11,600 years ago. Some glacial formations, including moraines, erratic boulders, and glacial striations.
Glacier Garden Path
Cavaglia Glacier Garden is arranged such that visitors can follow the trail easily. If you come by train, you can follow the sign that says Giardino dei Ghiacciai or Gletschergarten Cavaglia.
The Cavaglia Glacier Garden is only open to the public for viewing purposes. There is a marked path leading to the glacier potholes and the panoramic viewpoint which visitors are urged to follow.
As you enter Cavaglia Glacier Garden, simply follow the path going up. From there, you will encounter the several rows of glacier potholes in various sizes. All potholes are labelled with the following information:
- Date or Year it was exposed
- Diameter from north to south
- Diameter from east to west
- Capacity in cubic meters (m³)
Alongside the trail are information panels in Italian and German that explain how they started working on the garden and why the topography of the region resulted in the glacier potholes.
Panoramic Viewpoint from Cavaglia Glacier Garden
Among the mountains that you see find in Cavaglia Glacier Garden viewpoint are the following:
- Piz Palü – 3,899 meters
- Piz Caral – 3,421 meters
- Piz Sassal Mason – 3,031 meters
- Monte Borga – 2,734 meters
- Monte Palone del Torsalazzo – 2,670 meters
- Monte Palone del Sopressà – 2,588 meters
- Monte Sessa – 2,587 meters
After visiting the glacier potholes, you will cross a bridge and descend the stairs into Cavaglia Gorge (Orrido di Cavaglia). This was my favorite part and what I found most beautiful. As with glacial potholes, the gorge was formed by swirling meltwater flowing through the rocks.
In this area, you will see the rushing waters of Cavagliasch and beautiful rock formations. You should follow this route on your way back to the parking lot or train station.
Cavaglia Glacier Garden Facilities
Despite not being as large as Glacier Garden in Lucerne, Cavaglia Glacier Garden has basic guest facilities such as the following:
- Parking lot
- Grill or Barbecue Pit
- Small Kiosk
Cavaglia Glacier Garden Review
The Cavaglia Glacier Garden stands out as a captivating tourist spot that sets itself apart from traditional botanical gardens. Being an alpine garden, it shows unique plant life and stunning rock formations that you don’t normally see in other botanical gardens.
The glacier potholes offer a fascinating glimpse into the history of our planet, particularly the last ice age, showcasing the immense power of nature in shaping the world. These natural wonders serve as a reminder that they will endure long after our time.
Although Cavaglia Glacier Garden provides essential amenities like snacks and restrooms, it only has the bare necessities. Please note that accessibility will be a challenge for individuals using wheelchairs and children’s strollers. There are a lot of steps and the paths are not fully paved.
Overall, I consider Cavaglia Glacier Garden to be a fantastic destination for anyone interested in the natural beauty of the Poschiavo region. A visit here will provide visitors with a one-of-a-kind experience, complete with stunning views, unique fauna and flora, and informative exhibits. Cavaglia Glacier Garden is definitely worth visiting if you are in the Val Poschiavo region.
Practical Information: Cavaglia Glacier Garden
- Cavaglia Glacier Garden is open from May to October.
- Entrance is free. Tips are welcome to support the volunteers who work here to maintain the paths, drain rainwater, and expose new glacial potholes.
- Guided tours are available Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tours take 2 hours to finish. The meeting point is the Cavaglia Train Station. Tours will cost CHF 10 per adult and CHF 5 per child/student. Valposchiavo and Pontresina guests can take part in the guided tour for free.
- Guided tours in Italian, German, French, English, and Spanish can be booked with 7 people minimum (or CHF 70).
How to Get to Cavaglia Glacier Garden
Cavaglia Glacier Garden is a short walk from the train station of Cavaglia. Simply follow the sign that says Giardino dei Ghiacciai or Gletschergarten Cavaglia.
Final Thoughts: Cavaglia Glacier Garden
Overall, the Cavaglia Glacier Garden is a beautiful attraction in the Valposchiavo region that is worth visiting if you are in the region. With its impressive glacier potholes, fascinating views, informational content, and the rushing waters of Cavagliasch, you will surely enjoy stopping by here.
Even though the garden is not that big and the paths are difficult to navigate for some, it is well-kept and suitable for visitors of all ages. There are fences around all the potholes, so even little ones won’t fall into them.
There is no doubt that you will enjoy this trip, whether you’re looking for an interesting family day out, you’re a solo traveler exploring alone, you belong to a student group on an educational tour, or you’re with a tour group. I highly recommend visiting it!
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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.
Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.