Remoteness helped Retezat to sustain its extraordinary natural values, telling us at the same time that access is difficult and distances are long. Overnight stays in or near the park are recommended to really enjoy the park. With approximately 35.000 visitors per year, the Retezat National Park is still only modestly popular with nature lovers and hikers. Touristic infrastructure in and around the massif is not accustomed to large numbers of tourists and apart from a number of cabanas and refuge’s in the park area there is little accommodation on higher elevation. Outside the Park area accommodation is limited to peripheral cabanas and villages surrounding the park.
The park area can be approached from the North (Carnic, Rausor), the East (Hobita: Baleia, Stana de Rau), West (Gura Zlata, Gura Apei) or from the South (Buta, Cheila Butii, campusel).
In the northern Hateg Basin, the clusters of villages around Rau de Mori and Salasu de Sus, and Hobita further to the east, all offer some accommodation in the form of small pensions and bed&breakfest varieties.
A little bit closer to the park still there are various cabanas (from west to east (altitude/capacity): Gura Zlata (749 m/ 15pp), Rausor (1185m/ max 100pp), Carnic-Cascada (1005m/ 33pp) and Pietrele (1408m/ 30pp). Pietrele cabana cannot be reached by road. You have to live your car at Carnic. Further into the park, there are two more cabanas. A little south and up of Cabana Pietrele lies the Cabana Gentiana (1670m/ 24-30pp), while the Rotunda cabana (1100m 20pp - not in winter) is located in the southeastern corner of the park further up the road from cabana Gura Zlata into the Lapusunic Mare river valley.
The southern point of access is through the pretty grim coal-miners’ Jiul de Vest valley, with a forty kilometers long road leading east off Petrosani to end south of the Retezatul Mic. Accommodation can eventually be found in the cabanas Popas Turistic Toplita (780m/20 pp – not in winter) between Valea de Brazi and Campu lui Neag, or a little further up the road in the Complex Turistic Cheile Butii (900 m/130pp) a little distance from the sideroad through La Fanata. From here, it is not far anymore to the conveniently placed southern cabana Buta (1580m/ 24pp).
Apart from the cabanas mentioned above there are a number of emergency shelters in the higher regions. However, most visitors try to connect the cabanas in day trips, or choose to camp in the areas designated for camping. One reason for this is the fact that, especially in summer, the cabanas fill up quickly and may lose much of the peacefulness once they are crowded. Camping in the park area is a good second option, but is only allowed next to almost every cabana and shelter and at a dozen or so designated spaces. In August, these campsites always bare the risk of becoming open-air grill party scenery after dark, albeit to a lesser extend than in other Carpathian regions.