The Wupper rises as the “Wipper” in the hill town of Börlinghausen, and flows into the Rhine as the “Wupper” near Leverkusen, 114 km downstream. It traverses the valley between Müngsten and Burg in a series of bends, which is unusual for a river in this low mountain range. But it “made its bed” around 60 million years ago, when the slate mountains of the Rhineland had not yet emerged, and wound its way through the plain that existed at that time. In the subsequent upthrust of the hills, it cut a groove around 100 meters deep in the water-impermeable bedrock of graywake and argillaceous shale between Müngsten and Burg.
The lower section of the Wupper is today a near-natural river course, and its submarine flora and the riverine forests bordering its banks provide valuable habitats. In the flat stretches with slowly flowing water, pond water-crowfoot and other aquatic plants thrive. They offer fish concealment from predators and a spawning ground, help to oxygenate the Wupper and filter suspended particulates out of the water. The river is also home to the extremely endangered European brook lamprey. The many fish species that have returned to the Wupper once more offer sufficient food for the kingfisher. This bird nests in the tunnels it digs in the steep clay-sand river banks. A little patience is often rewarded with an opportunity to hear its characteristic cry, and perhaps even observe it as it flies by.