We arrived late one afternoon, settled into a large, comfortable hotel in the park, and enjoyed a pre-planned "potluck" happy hour on the lake shore with our tour group, for which we had each purchased wine, sausage, cheese, chocolates, and other delights during the day. Dinner in the hotel was tasty, but hardly seemed necessary after that. Following an early, sumptuous breakfast buffet the next morning, we stowed our luggage on the tour bus, hoisted our day packs, and boarded a shuttle bus to a ferry dock. To avoid the crowds at this popular park, our excellent Rick Steves guide, Saso Golub, wisely guided us to begin at the furthest point of our trek, via a ferry across one of the larger lakes. His strategy worked beautifully--we saw the most dramatic falls before others crowded in, and we hiked in the opposite direction of the heaviest flow of visitors. The park offers a variety of hiking options on wide walking trails and sturdy plank walkways over rushing streams and gullies. The cold clear air of the early morning gave way to bracing, cool, delicious temperatures, perfect for hiking.
If you want to see more of the park and to learn about its dynamic ecosystem and shifting bodies of water and land formations, check your local public library for a DVD, which I think was originally a PBS program, Nature:Land of the Falling Lakes. In Plitvice, the water gradually wears down the land so that the lakes, streams, and waterfalls actually move over time. Then, the limestone deposits that erosion leaves in the water gradually build up again on fallen trees and branches underwater and on the lake bed itself so that over time, natural earth dams and eventually, new land areas are formed.