If you've heard about the Papuk Geopark before reading this, pat yourself on the back. Because of its inland location 180 km east of Zagreb (which itself is about as far east as most travelers get in the country), this 336 sq. km. geological oddity remains relatively unknown to much of the non-Slavonian world. And with easy deciduous forests and gentle mountains that don't quite make it past the 1,000 meter mark (Papuk, its namesake and tallest peak, tops out at 953 m), you might be wondering where its appeal lies. Well, aside from the 100+ kilometers of wooded hiking and mountain biking trails, 5000+ year old archaeological sites and medieval old towns (Ružica), the camping lodges, waterfalls (Jankovac is a local favorite), rock climbing and available winter skiing (that's right, skiing) in Nevolja, Papuk has another trick up its sleeve: its 500+ million year old rocks.
You were probably wondering when we were going to get back to that "geological oddity" part, right? Well there you have it. Officially recognized by UNESCO as a European Geopark, this unique chunk of Croatia houses igneous and metamorphic stones dating back to the Precambrian eon, well before multi-cellular organisms were in existence. Fossils, caves and thermal hot springs throughout the park still speak to its ongoing geologic activity, though the latter can just as easily be appreciated for their simple, relaxing post-adventure effects. Whatever your reason for visiting, however, rest assured you've picked one of Earth's more interesting places to explore.