Montagnayes Natural Reserve
This regional reserve was established in 2013 and is located entirely within the territory of the municipality of Bionaz. It covers an area of over 1,100 hectares that extends from the valley floor at 1,573 meters altitude to the Becca-des-Arbyères at 3,321 meters.
Located on the left side of Buthier creek, the valley offers visitors the typical landscapes of alpine and subalpine environments, with a prevalence of mixed forests of larch and spruce trees; from the confluence with the Montagnayes creek to the border with Oyace are “wooded cliffs”, an interesting zone where silver firs appear, unusual for this environment.
Moving up to the ridges, the woods give way to dwarf bushes, pastures and alpine meadows with rare species of flora for all the Alps and the region.
A wildlife protection oasis in the past, the reserve is home to chamois, ibex, deer and roe deer, hares and marmots, predators such as foxes, badgers, martens, weasels and birds of prey such as the golden eagle and the pygmy owl. Also amphibians, reptiles and many butterflies inhabit this rich and unspoiled natural environment.
Summer is the best time to visit the reserve and admire beautiful blooms (gentian acaule, Turk’s cap lily, rhododendron crowberry and other alpine flowers) immersed in the peace of a wild environment. Especially in September and October, when the fir and larch woods are tinged with the colors of autumn days, a hike in the valley of Montagnayes offers exceptional views.
During the winter, however, a thick blanket of snow and the danger of avalanches make this area inaccessible and its use discouraged.
How to get there
From Aosta, take SS 27 Great Saint Bernard to the Variney junction and then get on regional road 28 up to Bionaz, from where you will continue heading toward lake Place Moulin until you get to the village of Ferrère and park your car.
The tours to the pasture of Arp-Damon (1h30 – trail 15) and Bivouac Chentre-Bionaz (3h – trail 14) start from Ferrère.