The name «Entle-Buch» derives from the eponymous river that flows it; the meaning of the name is «gushing» (according to Erika Waser in «Die Entlebucher Namenlandschaft»).
The cultivated landscape of Entlebuch encompasses the typically dispersed farming settlements of the main valley. The central community is Schüpfheim, through which the Kleine Emme flows. The structure of settlement conforms to Germanic patterns of population, whereby estates were utilised on the basis of individual farms. These dispersed settlements lie within a mosaic of agriculturally utilised meadows, forest islands, isolated trees, wayside crosses, hedgerows and streams.
The shape of the main valley, with its gently rolling hills, is explained by its prehistory (ice age glaciers) and explored on the Geo-Pfad path.
Entlebuch is dubbed the ‘wild west’ of Lucerne – and the name is more than fitting for the Napfbergland region to the north of the main valley, which is characterised by many «Chrachen and Högern» (ravines and hills). Erosion produced deeply furrowed ranges of hills with deep and rugged ravines; the legendary Napf gold is found in its free-flowing rivers and streams. The Grosse Fontanne, the main river of the Napf region, is actually classified as a meadow landscape of national importance on account of its wild and untamed dynamics. At 1,408 metres above sea level, the Napf is the highest elevation. While the hilltops are interspersed with isolated farmsteads and support agricultural usage, the slopes are mostly covered with a mix of conifers and deciduous trees. Alongside agriculture, forest exploitation is a pillar of the regional economy; there are several regional sawmills.
The higher tributary valleys to the south of the main valley are even more primitive. Pre-alpine moorland extends along the tributary valleys, lending Entlebuch its status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The moorland nestles amid a pre-alpine ridge of hills dominated by the impressive and unique Schratteflue with its typical pavements of Schrattenkalk limestone. The Rothorn range, the highest and southernmost range, forms a sharp ridge of dramatic alluvial fans and ruggedly rocky alpine landscapes dating back to the Alpine divide.