National Park (or Hemis High Altitude National Park) is a high altitude national park in the eastern Ladakh
region of the state of Jammu
. It is the only national park in India north of the Himalayas, the largest notified protected area in India (and thus the largest national park of India), and is the second largest contiguous protected area after the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve and surrounding protected areas.
The park is home to a number of species of endangered mammals including the snow leopard. Hemis National Park is India's only protected area inside the Palearctic ecozone, outside the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary
northeast of Hemis, and the proposed Tso Lhamo Cold Desert Conservation Area in North Sikkim. The park is bounded on the north by the banks of the Indus River, and includes the cachements of Markha, Sumdah and Rumbak, and parts of the Zanskar
The park is home to a viable breeding population of about 200 snow leopards, especially in the Rumbak catchment area. The prey base for the apex predator in the Central Asian Highlands is primarily supported in Hemis by Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep), Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), and livestock. A small population of the Asiatic Ibex is also present in Hemis. Hemis is the only refuge in India containing the Shapu. The Tibetan Wolf,the Eurasian Brown Bear (endangered in India), and the Red Fox are also present in Hemis.
Small mammals include the Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and the Himalayan Mouse Hare. The park is a good place to study Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan birds of prey. Among birds of prey noted here are the Golden Eagle, the Lammergeier vulture, and the Himalayan Griffon vulture. The Rumbak Valley offers good opportunities for birdwatching, including several Tibetan species not common in other parts of India. Birds present here include Brown Accentor, Robin Accentor, Tickell's Leaf Warbler, Streaked Rosefinch, Tibetan Snowfinch, Chukar, Fork-tailed Swift, Red-billed Chough, Himalayan Snowcock, and the Fire-fronted Serin. 16 mammal species and 73 bird species have been recorded in the park so far.
This region is in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, and does not receive much precipitation. Hence, dry forests of juniper, Populus - Salix forests, subalpine dry birch - fir are present at lower altitudes.
Tourist Activities in The Park:
No metalled or motorable roads traverse the park. The park offers a number of routes for trekking from mid-June to mid-October. The best season for spotting snow leopards, is, however, in late winter. The historic Hemis Monastery
is home to the Hemis Festival (Hemis Tsechu) every summer. Lodging is restricted to backcountry camps, villager homestays and accommodation at the monasteries.