The Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park has a varied landscape with a rich cultural heritage and breath taking nature. The contrasts are great, from the dramatic almost alpine scenery with waterfalls in the northwest, to the rounded mountains and dry climate in the east. Great variation offers a range of experiences and your options are as varied as the landscape. The park contains an almost intact ecosystem that includes wild reindeer, wolverines, arctic foxes, ravens and golden eagles, and the only Norwegian population of musk oxen also lives on Dovrefjell.
Enjoy the scenery that the national park offers many opportunities for outdoor recreation. You can walk, ski and spend the night wherever you want. Snøhetta (2286 m.) is the most majestic of the peaks in the National Park. It was once believed to be the highest mountain in Norway. The mostly used paths to the summit are from the Norwegian Ramblers Association's cabins Snøheim and Reinheim. Alternatively, you can enjoy the view of Snøhetta and learn more about the history and wild life of the area at the Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre Pavilion at Tverrfjellet, near Hjerkinn.
In the municipalities of Nesset and Sunndal, you can find good starting points for walks in the National Park in Grøvudalen, Torbudalen and Eikesdalen. In Eikesdalen you will also find Mardalen nature reserve with rich biological diversity and the Mardal waterfall. For ski mountaineering, Øksendalen and Eresfjorden are good locations. Remember to check the avalanche risk at www.varsom.no
Home of the last wild reindeers in Europe If you walk or ski, you must consider the welfare of the wild reindeer. The Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park has viable strains of the original wild mountain reindeer. Wild reindeer reached Norway when the ice melted after the last Ice Age. The humans followed, and thousands of years of hunting and using the reindeer as a resource has left many traces all across the landscape. It has also made the reindeer very timid and vulnerable. If you discover a wild reindeer before it discovers you, please stay put until it moves away. You can learn more about the extraordinary animals and those who hunted them at Norwegian Wild Reindeer Centre at Hjerkinn.
The National Park is also home to the musk oxen. They died out during the last Ice Age, but where reintroduced from Greenland between 1932 and 1953. The cold and dry climate of Dovrefjell suites their compact bodies and robust coat. You can follow the marked Musk Ox Trail from Kongsvoll or Grønbakken. There is a good chance of seeing the shaggy prehistoric animals without risking to disturb the wild reindeer. Remember: If the musk oxen feel threatened they may attack. Should you see them on or near the trail, please walk a wide circle around them. Maintain a distance of at least 200 metres between you and the animals to prevent disturbance.
The arctic fox also lives in the National Park. It is very vulnerable and was extinct from the area in the 1990s. Since 2005 foxes have been bred in captivity and released here in the hope that they will help rebuild a viable population in Norway.
The varied landscape is also home to the wolverine and many different birds. From small birds to larger birds of prey like the golden eagle, gyrfalcon and rough-legged buzzard. Here, you can also find outstanding alpine flora. The calcareous rocks are much of the explanation for the unusual plant life with rarities such as the grass, Poa lindebergii, alpine hairbell, a subspecies of arctic poppy, Papaver radiactum and more.
Guest in the National Park
- Do not disturb animals or birds. This is their home. Leave the reindeer in peace. Disturbing the arctic fox is prohibited. Keep at least a distance of 200 meters to the musk oxen.
- You may go wherever you like, but anything with an engine is basically prohibited.
- Do not leave traces. You can stop wherever you like and pitch a tent, but tidy up afterwards and take your rubbish with you.
- You may light a fire, but there is a general ban of fires in woodland from April 15th to September 15th.
- You can pick berries, mushrooms and common plants for your own use. Show consideration for cultural heritage sites, vegetation and animal life. Take extra care in breeding season.
- Hunting and fishing is permitted. Remember to buy hunting and fishing licences. Never use live fish as bait, or transfer live fish from one river or lake to another.
- Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash from April 1st to August 20th (the boroughs have slightly different by-laws regarding this)