There are several micro-climates or Biotopes within the gorge each with their own particular geomorphology, climate and soil.
The park opens at 6am and closes at sunset; admission; 5 euros.
Staying overnight at the top of the gorge (sleeping outside, though it can be very cold without heavy-duty sleeping bags) is probably the best way to beat the crowds by getting a very early start (and a increased chance of glimpsing eagles or vultures and crag martins before the spring at Neroutsiko.
Staying in a room at Omalos won't get you there early enough.
The initial descent down the 'Wooden Staircase' (Xyloskalo) is very steep (from 1200 meters), but a delight with its pine forest and in spring, wild flowers.
The Tarraios River which carved the gorge, flows through it to the sea at Aghia Roumeli (site of ancient Tarrha, Greco-Roman era). In spring, expect a lot of water. You'll see waterfalls, springs, and very tall cypresses as well as the rare peony (P.clusii) which is indigenous to Crete.
The village of Samaria was actually inhabited until 1962, the inhabitants relocated with the establishment of the park. They were mostly members of a family who professed direct descent from the aristocracy of ancient Byzantium. Not much remains of the village.
The warden's office is here(#20), and a public toilet. Floodwater cuts the village off during much of the year. Beyond it is the small 14th century church of Osia Maria, dated 1379 with some remains of frescoes.
The path levels out beyond the village and the cliffs narrow. You'll do a lot of crossing of the stream along here, and care must be taken with slippery rocks.
Farther on is the chapel of Afendhis Kristos before the famous Iron Gates, where for 3-4km the vertical 600meter cliffs almost touch each other.
Old Aghia Roumeli is reached about a half hour before the modern incarnation by the sea.
Present-day Aghia Roumeli is very overdeveloped, unattractive, and expensive. Get your boat ticket right away after the gorge walk for the destination from which you want to get the bus back to the north coast, if not planning to stay overnight in the south. Click here to return to the relevant, Chania Prefecture, portion of Harry's Greece Travel Guides.