The Elbe Canyon belongs to the most precious parts of CHKO (Protected Natural Area) Elbe Sandstones – it is a National Nature Reserve.
The river Elbe has created with its erosion activity up to 300 metres deep canyon in chalk sediments – the most massive sandstone canyon in Europe – and it has revealed old crystalline bedrock in its lower part. The canyon is a home for array of endangered, protected, and rare species. On sandy gravel alluviums of the river can still be found strapworts (the last habitat in the Czech Republic, critically endangered species). European beaver has come back to the banks of the Elbe after many decades (critically endangered species). In the canyon nest beside others peregrine falcon,European eagle-owl, European penduline tit, and common sandpiper.
Particularly on the right bank of the river Elbe are preserved large covers of natural forests, from riparian forest by the banks, over beechwoods on canyon slopes, to relict pine groves on the edges of sandstone walls. Unrivalled landscape value of the area is especially perceptible from outlooks above the canyon (Belvedér by Labská Stráň, Růžový hřeben).
International railway and road go across the canyon. The Elbe Valley is also an important way for migration – many animal and plant species use the way to enter to us and in the opposite direction organisms from Bohemian basin spread to the north. The only direct connecting line between the North German Plain and Bohemian basin is a wildlife corridor comparable to e.g. Iron Gates on the Danube.
Archaeological discoveries show, that the area used to be not only an impassable forest, but also “a motorway of prehistoric and historical cultures”.
Pleasure boats from Děčín to Hřensko float through this interesting area and on the right bank there is a road leading to border crossing with Germany in Hřensko. The area is interlaced with a net of marked hiking trails. The most beautiful views at the canyon are to be found on the surrounding rock outlooks.