On its southeastern side, the Swabian Alb tends to fall away more gradually than in the west, but in many places the Danube has cut a tremendous gorge through the rock, producing steep cliffs and spectacular scenery, particularly in the Upper Danube Valley. Much of this is protected as the Naturpark Obere Donau, which is centred on this forested and steep-sided limestone valley and is particularly colourful in both spring, when wildflowers bloom, and during its magnificent autumn foliage: all best appreciated on hikes that head up to the many viewpoints above the valley.
With a railway along much of its length, the region is very accessible for day-trips from Ulm. However, this very quiet region also has plenty of inexpensive accommodation, encouraging longer exploration, particularly by bike following the Donauradweg (Danube cycle path) that begins at the source of the Danube in the unassuming provincial town of Donaueschingen and follows the Danube for 199km to Ulm. There’s plenty of smaller wildlife along the route to watch, particularly on the marshy right bank of the Danube between Ehingen and Ulm, which teems with waterfowl.