Jotunheimen National Park

The Jotunheimen National Park, located in Norway, is an exceptional natural space, renowned for its mighty areas for hiking and fishing. This extensive park, covering about 1,151 km², is part of a larger area known as Jotunheimen, a name that evokes the grandeur of its landscape, being called the "Home of the Giants." It stands out for hosting more than 250 peaks that exceed 1,900 meters in height, including the two highest points in the north and among the European national parks: Galdhøpiggen, at 2,469 meters, and Glittertind, at 2,465 meters. It is one of the most prominent protected areas in Norway along with the Jostedalsbreen National Park.

The park encompasses most of the Jotunheimen mountain region, including Hurrungane. However, Utladalen and its surrounding areas are part of the Utladalen Landscape Protection Area. It geographically spans the counties of Oppland and Sogn og Fjordane. From a geological standpoint, Jotunheimen belongs to a Precambrian province, with its characteristic gabbro rock masses sculpted by glaciers over millennia, resulting in a landscape of deep valleys and challenging peaks.

The park’s rich biodiversity includes a variety of wildlife such as reindeer, moose, deer, wolverines, and lynxes, complementing the natural beauty of the environment. Additionally, the numerous lakes and rivers are home to trout, making Jotunheimen a favorite spot for fishing enthusiasts. This national park is not only a refuge for diverse animal species but also a prime destination for nature lovers and outdoor activities.

Information about Jotunheimen National Park

Jotunheimen National Park

History of Jotunheimen

Jotunheimen has a rich and deep history, dating back to prehistoric times when it already served as an essential hunting ground. Archaeological findings near the Gjende and Russvatnet lakes reveal Stone Age hunter camps, evidence of continuous occupation extending through the Bronze Age and Iron Age into historical times. The tradition of transhumance in this region, involving the seasonal grazing of livestock in high mountain pastures, is at least a millennium old, highlighting the importance of these lands for local communities over the centuries.

Information sign within Jotunheimen National Park in Norway

In the 15th century, a royal decree established the "Royal Road" through the Sognefjell mountain pass, a path that residents of Lom had to maintain in good condition. This road facilitated trade between northern Gudbrandsdal and the city of Bergen, allowing the transport of agricultural products in exchange for salt, iron, cloth, and lutefisk, among other goods.

The name "Jotunheimen" or "Home of the Giants" was coined in 1862 by the Norwegian poet and journalist Aasmund Olavsson Vinje, an advocate of Norwegian romantic nationalism and a pioneer in the use of nynorsk. This name, inspired by Keilhau’s term "Jotunfjellene," reflects the majesty and grandeur of the region. In 1909, a monument was erected in Vinje’s honor near Eidsbugarden, at the western end of Lake Bygdin, where he owned a private cabin, recognizing his contribution to the appreciation of Norwegian nature and the strengthening of national identity.

Eidsbugarden has become an important mountain tourist center, with a historic hotel from 1909 recently restored, a cabin of the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT), and around 160 private cabins. This destination is accessible both in summer and winter, offering a base to explore the natural beauty of the region.

The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association has played a crucial role in the tourism development of Jotunheimen since it built its first cabin in 1869. Today, its tourist cabins make Jotunheimen one of the most developed regions for tourism in Europe, maintaining a balance between accessibility and nature preservation.

Finally, in 1980, the Jotunheimen National Park was officially established by royal decree, encompassing 1,145 square kilometers of the heart of this impressive region. This park includes some of the most iconic areas, such as the Galdhø plateau, the Glittertind massif, and Hurrungane, along with the Gjende area, and connects with the Utladalen Nature Reserve, ensuring the conservation of this unique landscape for future generations.

Recommended Excursions and Activities

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What to See and Do in Jotunheimen National Park

Besseggen Ridge in Jotunheimen

Besseggen is recognized as one of the most popular mountain routes in Norway, a hike that many consider a must-do. Every year, around 60,000 people venture to walk this ridge, which offers impressive views. Located in Jotunheimen National Park, the green waters of Lake Gjende contrast with the rugged mountains, creating an exceptional landscape. On the other side of the ridge lies Lake Bessvatnet, known as one of the clearest lakes in the country, with visibility up to 30 meters below its surface.

Besseggen Ridge Route in Jotunheimen

The Besseggen hike can be done in both directions, either starting at Gjendeosen heading west or taking the Gjende boat to Memurubu and then hiking east back to Gjendeosen. Although the place can be crowded during the high season, in the low season and weekdays, one can enjoy the tranquility of the natural environment.

How long does the hike take? Generally, between 6 and 8 hours, including breaks. With an elevation gain of almost 1,000 meters, Besseggen is a long hike that can present some difficulty in certain parts, but most hikers will have no problems.

What is the best time to do the hike? In winter, the ridge is covered with snow and ice, persisting until mid-June. The usual season for hiking Besseggen runs from mid-June to mid-October, coinciding with the availability of the Gjende boat.

Sjoa Rafting

Rafting in Sjoa offers a variety of exciting outdoor activities, from canyoning and riverboarding to packrafting and paintball, to name just a few. Located in a green oasis along the Sjoa River, known for its world-class rafting, the camp offers a wide range of options for adventure lovers.

At the camp, guests can enjoy activities such as fishing and canoeing on a small pond, as well as spending the night at the island’s wild camp. Accommodation options include traditional lavvos, dormitories, wooden cabins, and a large dining room. Additionally, the camp features a large covered bonfire, hot tubs, and a rafting bar to relax after a day full of action on the river.

Norwegian Mountain Center in Lom

The Norwegian Mountain Center in Lom, located in the picturesque village of Lom, is a meeting point between man and the surrounding mountains. This visitor center serves as the gateway to Jotunheimen, Reinheimen, and Breheimen National Parks, offering valuable information about hikes and guided excursions in these impressive natural environments.

Besides being a source of knowledge about the natural wonders of the region, the Norwegian Mountain Center also invites visitors to relax and enjoy the cozy atmosphere of Slingsby Café. This space features an art gallery and a unique combination of bookstore and boutique, where you can find a selection of items inspired by nature and local culture.

The center is much more than a place of information and entertainment; it is a refuge where you can enjoy the outdoors, even indoors. The new "Spellbound" exhibition offers a captivating experience that combines elements such as Vikings and panoramic views, towering peaks and brave pioneers, mighty reindeer and intrepid hikers, as well as folklore and fairy tales. Additionally, visitors can immerse themselves in the interactive Mountain Science Center, which provides a deeper understanding of the secrets of the mountains and their unique environment.

Mjølkevegen (The Old Milk Route)

Mjølkevegen, known as the old milk route, offers an exciting cycling experience along 250 km, from Vinstra in the north to Gol in the south. This varied route features challenging mountain climbs, thrilling descents, flat stretches, and even a picturesque 20 km cruise on Lake Bygdin. Over the years, additional detours and excursions have been discovered and integrated with the original route, providing cyclists with numerous options to explore.

What makes Mjølkevegen extraordinary is the possibility of enjoying additional hiking and cycling routes found along the trails and at the mountain lodges. This combination of cycling, hiking, and cozy mountain lodges, all framed by mountainous landscapes and lush nature, guarantees an unforgettable experience.

There are various options and routes available, from small segments to the complete 250 km crossing at once. There is no right or wrong approach; just you, your bike, and a fantastic journey to discover.

Historic Jotunheimen Route

Discover the legacy of Norwegian mountaineering while walking the historic Jotunheimen Route, from Gjendesheim to Eidsbugarden, through Jotunheimen National Park.

This hike is a window to the past, where 150 years ago, the Norwegian Hiking Association (DNT) was established, using the Gjende and Bygdin lakes as gateways to the remote regions of Jotunheimen. Since the construction of DNT’s first cabin at Tyin in 1870, new cabins have opened along the shores of these lakes, accessible by various boat routes and hiking. Since then, millions of hikers have enjoyed the trails and peaks of this area, seeking recreation and adventures, from the famous Besseggen to the remote fairy-tale valleys like Svartdalen.

Winter Activities

In Jotunheimen, each season has its own charm, but winter transforms this wonderful mountainous region into a white snow paradise, with incomparable serenity and peace. During winter, you can immerse yourself in the wonders of the snowy landscape using the favorite means of transport of Norwegians: skis! They say Norwegians are born with skis on their feet.

Besides cross-country skiing, you can enjoy off-piste snowboarding, snowshoeing, or simply have fun with a sled ride.

Summer Activities

During the summer, Jotunheimen becomes a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor activities, allowing for many other activities that, due to the climate, are not suitable in winter.

  • Hiking: Explore the numerous trails and paths that wind through impressive and varied landscapes.
  • Glacier Walks: Embark on an exciting adventure exploring one or more of the magnificent glaciers in the region.
  • Climbing: For the more adventurous, the southwestern area of Hurrungane offers numerous climbing opportunities on its characteristic and pointed peaks. If you prefer a more accessible option, consider guided climbing on a via ferrata.
  • Via Ferrata: This exciting activity allows you to explore terrains that would otherwise be inaccessible, using rungs and steel cables for safety. It is suitable for people with normal physical health.
  • Horseback Riding: Experience the natural beauty of Jotunheimen while riding horseback through its scenic trails.
  • Dog Sledding on Wheels: Enjoy the thrill of a dog sled ride, but on solid ground during the summer!
  • Whitewater Rafting: For those seeking thrills, whitewater rafting offers an action-packed experience in the region’s rushing waters.

Visit Local Farms

If you are interested in immersing yourself in local culture and getting a close look at life in the Norwegian countryside, a visit to local farms is an excellent option.

In Valdres and Jotunheimen, you will find family farms that still practice traditional farming methods and offer the opportunity to participate in various agricultural activities. You can learn about raising typical regional animals such as sheep, goats, and cows, and maybe even help with some daily tasks like milking or feeding the animals.

In addition to farming, many of these farms are also involved in the production of artisanal dairy products and cheeses. You can taste some of these delicious local products and learn about the production process from start to finish.

By visiting local farms, you will also have the opportunity to interact with locals and learn about their lifestyle, traditions, and connection to the land. Moreover, many farms offer cozy accommodations, giving you the chance to experience Norwegian farm life firsthand.

Snowcoach Route

Unique experiences can be had by taking various routes in vehicles adapted to move through snow and ice. Some routes depart from Tyin to Eidsbugarden, using a fleet of historic Bombardier snowmobiles. This is a fusion of living history, transportation, and tourist attraction that will take you through the snowy landscape with a touch of nostalgia and excitement.

The season for this adventure starts in mid-February and extends to early May, offering visitors the opportunity to experience the magic of the Norwegian winter in a traditional form of transport. Traveling in these old Bombardier snowmobiles is an experience in itself, immersing you in the past while you move through the beautiful winter landscapes of the region.

Prestfossen Zip Line

The Prestfossen zip line, which starts below the bridge in the center of Lom, is an exciting experience. We call it Prestfosstraversen because it crosses the Prest waterfall in the Bøvra river. This zip line is truly spectacular, as it takes you over the waterfall, with water splashing around you, and the river flowing directly beneath your feet.

Synshorn Via Ferrata

The Synshorn Via Ferrata is an exciting climbing route located on the Synshorn mountain, between the Bygdin and Vinstre lakes in Jotunheimen National Park. The view from this route is simply breathtaking, with spectacular landscapes that will leave you speechless. Along the way, you will find rest areas with benches and lookout points on the cliffs so you can enjoy the natural beauty around you.

River Rafting

The rivers of Jotunheim descend from the high mountains to the sea, fed by snow, ice, and rain. These streams present a variety of characters: some flow gently and quietly, while others are wild and tumultuous, offering exciting opportunities for extreme sports.

Rafting can be both an extreme experience for the more daring and an exciting adventure for the whole family. In these waters, you can face challenging rapids and feel the thrill of navigating white waters, or simply enjoy a quiet river ride while admiring the stunning landscapes around you.

Backcountry Skiing

Looking to experience the thrill of skiing down high peaks surrounded by impressive, pristine winter landscapes? Prefer unmarked trails away from the hustle and bustle? Then you’re in the right place! The winter edition of Jotunheimen National Park offers backcountry skiing from magnificent summits, accompanied by expert guides specialized in winter tourism.

Jotunheimen Activity Park

Known in Norwegian as "Aktivitetsparken," the park offers a wide range of summer activities for the whole family. While parents enjoy the relaxing atmosphere on the mountain restaurant’s terrace, children can explore and have maximum fun in our summer amusement park.

From exciting games and challenges to creative and safe play areas, there’s something for every age and skill level. Kids can jump on trampolines, slide down slides, climb climbing walls, and much more.

But the fun isn’t just for kids! Parents will also find plenty of exciting activities to participate in. From scenic hikes to thrilling mountain biking, there’s plenty to keep everyone entertained and active.

Dog Sledding

A unique experience in the heart of Norway as you travel through stunning, untouched landscapes alongside experienced mushers and energetic huskies. Feel the silence and peace as you glide over the snow, driven by the strength and speed of these magnificent dogs.

Not only will you enjoy a sled ride, but you will also immerse yourself in the world of huskies and learn about their training, care, and connection with the mushers. It is an experience that will inspire, excite, and involve you in our fascinating world.

Jotunheimen High Route

The Jotunheimen High Route, also known as Høgruta i Jotunheimen, is an exciting five-day backcountry skiing journey that takes you from peak to peak in the heart of Jotunheimen. During this trip, you will have the opportunity to explore eight glaciers, including Glittertind and Galdhøpiggen, Norway’s highest mountains, and stay in cozy mountain lodges.

Each stage of this route is approximately 15 kilometers long, with an elevation gain of between 1000 and 1500 meters. This unique experience immerses you in the stunning beauty of Jotunheimen, where wild and majestic nature surrounds you at every moment.

From Johan Wildhagen to modern backcountry skiing enthusiasts, this route offers an unforgettable adventure for all outdoor and skiing lovers. Get ready to live an exciting experience and discover the wonder of Jotunheimen with every step of the way!

Horseback Riding

Unique and fun family experiences for all ages, with different levels at Myhre Gård. The mountains offer the possibility to ride through areas on horseback. Whether you are a novice or an expert, you will be able to enjoy this activity as it is adapted for everyone and all conditions.

Jotunheimen Wildlife

Life in the high mountains of Jotunheimen is a fascinating world of adaptations and survival. From majestic deer to fierce wolverines, Jotunheimen’s ecosystem hosts a diversity of species that defy the challenges of the mountainous environment. Explore the incredible wildlife that inhabits this stunning Norwegian landscape.


Jotunheimen Wildlife, reindeer family in the snow-covered mountains

Deer are part of life in the high mountains of Jotunheimen. During the summer, moose can be seen roaming high in the mountains, while deer usually inhabit the forested area near Jotunheimen and occasionally migrate to the high mountains. In recent years, a population of deer has established itself on the southern side of Lake Gjende. Roe deer can also be sporadically sighted on the edges of the protected area.


Reindeer are unique in their ability to survive in the high mountains, thanks to their ability to extract nutrients from lichens. In Jotunheimen, domesticated reindeer are common in the eastern area, while wild populations are found in the Hurrungane mountains and further west in the national park. Throughout history, Jotunheimen has been an important habitat for reindeer, with hunting and trapping activities carried out in these wild and mountainous areas.


Wolverines are the most common predators in Jotunheimen, with their tracks frequently visible to visitors. Lynxes are harder to spot as they are nocturnal and prefer the forest as their hunting habitat. Wolves and bears, although less common nowadays, used to be more frequent inhabitants in the past.


Lemmings, small rodents, are a prominent part of Jotunheimen’s mountainous ecosystem. During lemming years, these animals become abundant in the mountains, impacting other species and prey in the area.

Other Rodent Species

In addition to lemmings, there are a variety of small rodents that inhabit the national park, such as field voles, tundra voles, and bank voles. These rodents play an important role in the mountainous ecosystem, affecting the population of other species and contributing to the food chain.


Mountain lakes in Jotunheimen are home to trout, which must be restocked to maintain their populations. In the region’s rivers, such as the Utla River, salmon and sea trout can be found, as well as mountain trout in higher areas. Fishing licenses are available for those interested in fishing in the region.

Jotunheimen Flora

Jotunheimen Flora

Approximately half of the National Park is dominated by rocks, sediments, ice, and snow, limiting the presence of vegetation. However, at slightly lower altitudes, resilient types of vegetation typical of high mountain landscapes can be found. These include heather, shrub tundra, and plant species adapted to survive long periods under snow.

Glacier Buttercup (Ranunculus glacialis)

The glacier buttercup, Ranunculus glacialis, is the highest-growing flower in Norway. This flower has been found just below the summit of Glittertinden mountain, at an altitude of 2370 meters above sea level. The strategy of this small and resilient flower is to capture the sun’s heat and distribute its development over several years.

Mountain Avens (Dryas octopetala)

The mountain avens, Dryas octopetala, is a dwarf evergreen shrub that spreads to form large mats. It grows in calcareous soils and wind-swept ridges, reaching altitudes of up to 2300 meters above sea level. These shrubs grow slowly but can live for at least 100 years.

Spring Pasqueflower

Spring pasqueflowers, also known as Buckflower in Lom or Goatflower in Vågå, are some of the first spring flowers to appear, even in April when the snowdrifts start to melt.

Purple Saxifrage (Saxifraga oppositifolia)

The Saxifraga oppositifolia, known as purple mountain saxifrage, grows in various mountainous environments, from rocky outcrops to areas covered in snow for long periods of the year. It has been found at an altitude of 2350 meters above sea level on Galdhøpiggen.

Pyramidal Saxifrage

The pyramidal saxifrage is a white flower that grows on the dark slopes of the mountains along Lake Gjende. It was chosen as the national flower of Norway in 1935. It is also the municipal flower of Vågå, known as Vianvang in the local dialect.

Dwarf Willow (Salix herbacea): The World’s Smallest Tree

The dwarf willow, also called snow willow or least willow, is the world’s smallest tree. It grows in areas covered by snow for long periods of the year and produces new leaves during the summer, resembling mouse ears.

Roseroot (Rhodiola rosea)

Rhodiola rosea grows at altitudes of up to 2300 meters above sea level and has a long tradition of use in herbal medicine. The fresh leaves contain a lot of vitamin C and have been used by the Sami and Inuit in their diets.


Angelica grows in wet places and near streams. Historically, it has been an important food and medicinal plant used by Arctic populations such as the Sami and Inuit. Today, it is mainly used to flavor liquors and spirits, as well as in herbal medicine and tea.

How to Get to Jotunheimen National Park

Jotunheimen National Park is located in central Norway and is easily accessible from the country’s main cities, such as Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim.

Public transport is a convenient and economical option to reach Jotunheimen.

By car, the park can be reached from cities like Bergen, Gardermoen, and Oslo in approximately 4 hours.

Traveling within Jotunheimen National Park:

The Gjende Boat (Gjendebåten) offers daily departures between Gjendebu, Gjendesheim, and Memerubu during the high season. It also operates on weekends in September.

The M/B Bitihorn boat sails between Bygdin, Torfinnsbu, and Eidsbugarden.


Best Time to Visit Jotunheimen

The best season for hiking in Jotunheimen is from mid-July to mid-August. However, June and September, and even early October, can also provide pleasant hiking conditions, depending on the weather and snow conditions.