The beautiful villages of the Ottadalen Valley
"It seems a pity to burn such beautiful villages", said Olav the Holy on his crusades a thousand years ago. It turned out all right. The residents of Ottadalen were converted and the villages spared. Vågå, Lom and Skjåk are the three municipalities in the Ottadalen Valley, and there are approximately 10,000 inhabitants here.
You will be captivated by the beautiful and wild landscape that opens out towards Fjord Norway and that has always formed an important route between the eastern and western parts of Norway. Drive along the scenic Sognefjell Road (rv. 55), for example, which is the highest mountain pass in Northern Europe and one of Norway’s national tourist routes.
Skjåk has many signposted walking paths and nature trails, for example the trail around Lake Aursjøen and the paths in the Botn area around Dønfoss. Other popular walks are Skridulaupen (a hilltop north of Grotli) and the area around Sota Sæter.
Vågå is the first village in the Ottadalen Valley. It has a pleasant village centre, where you will find its main tourist attraction; Vågå Church.
Jutulheimen Village Museum is within walking distance of the village centre and the starting point for many fine walks. Close to the centre is Blåhø, a fantastic viewpoint. From here you can see the Jotunheimen, Rondane and Dovre mountains on a clear day.
The Besseggen Ridge, perhaps Norway's best known mountain hike, is situated in the Vågå district, more precisely by Lake Gjende.
In the middle of Ottadalen, you find the mountain village of Lom. Lom is also the municipality with Norway's highest peaks and more than half of Jotunheimen National Park.
The municipality centre, Fossbergom, is a modern small town. Most of its inhabitants work within tourism, commerce and the service sector. Many excellent craftsmen, who offer products based on local traditions, also live here.
Jøtunheimen was the name given to this mountain area by the Norwegian author Aasmund Olavsson Vinje in 1862, under the inspiration of the wild landscape and Norse mythology. The Jotuns — trolls — have their home here. Jøtunheimen later became Jotunheimen, which is the name still in use.
Jotunheimen is situated on the border between the counties of Oppland and Sogn og Fjordane. It is a largely undisturbed mountain area full of majestic mountains and glaciers. Norway's highest mountains are found in Jotunheimen: Galdhøpiggen (2,469 metres above sea level) and Glittertind (2,464 metres above sea level).
The landscape's hard, durable rocks were formed under vast pressure deep within the earth’s crust and later pushed to the surface.
Altitude record for Norwegian plants
Jotunheimen holds the altitude record for a large number of Norway's mountain flora. The beautiful glacier crowfoot is the highest growing flowering plant, thriving at 2,370 metres on Glittertind, only 100 metres below the summit. Purple saxifrage and rose-root also grow as high as 2,300 metres above sea level.