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Viewpoint Snøhetta, Hjerkinn, Dovre Viewpoint Snøhetta, Hjerkinn, Dovre A person cycling past viewpoint Snøhetta in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella national park
Viewpoint Snøhetta, Hjerkinn, Dovre A person cycling past viewpoint Snøhetta in Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella national park
Viewpoint Snøhetta, Hjerkinn, Dovre.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com

National parks

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To use something is not the same as consuming it, as prominent Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss once said. Norway’s national parks provide a perfect example of this.

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Nature’s own museums

“Miljøvern” is a Norwegian word that became fashionable in the 1960s. It translates as “preserving nature”, and in later decades eco-philosophers like Arne Næss and NGOs such as Framtiden i våre hender (The Future in our Hands) and Norges naturvernforbund (Friends of the Earth Norway) have been increasingly influential in the political landscape.

From the get-go, one of the main issues for the environmentalists was the establishment of national parks. The green activists were victorious in 1962 when Rondane became the first national park in Norway.

In addition to preserving rare vegetation and animal life, the idea was to open the parks for recreational purposes as well as maintaining the landscape for future generations.

Open for use

Today there are 46 national parks in Norway, seven of them located on Svalbard. Again, this does not mean that these exemplary expanses of nature are closed to visitors – several of them, like Rondane, Jotunheimen and Hardangervidda, even offer arrangements for outdoor activities with a network of marked paths and trails and overnight accommodation in either staffed lodges or self-service cabins.

However, in some especially vulnerable areas, paths and accommodation are minimal in order to limit the impact of tourism on the wildlife. 

Nearly 85 percent of Norway's national parks are mountains, from gently rolling high plateaus to sharp peaks, ravines and glaciers.

Discover the natural beauty of Jostedalsbreen National Park

Things to do in the national parks

Activities

More than 10% of mainland Norway is covered by national parks.

All of Norway’s 46 national parks are suitable for hiking.

Other popular activities are skiing, kayaking, fishing and hunting.

A selection of national parks

National parks
Folgefonn Centre In May 2017, the new Folgefonn Centre will open in Rosendal. The centre will be the visitor centre for the national park and, in… Read more
Folgefonna National Park
Uvdal is a wonderful destination for anyone who loves the outdoors, and is a great starting point for excursions. Whether you are going for an hour or… Read more
Hardangervidda national park
Rondane National Park is a mountain area between the Gudbrandsdalen and Atndalen valleys. The area stretches from Ringebu in the south to Dovre in the… Read more
Rondane National Park
Langsua National Park – Friendly mountain terrain and marshes The Langsua National Park is Norway’s «youngest». It is located between Valdres… Read more
Langsua National Park
Almost half of the Jostedalsbreen National Park is covered by the Jostedalsbreen glacier, which is the largest glacier in mainland Europe. The… Read more
Jostedalsbreen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park is characterized by high mountains, glaciers and deep lakes. There are more than 200 mountain peaks rising above 2000 m… Read more
Jotunheimen National Park
One of the largest wilderness areas in Norway! The Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella National park is one of the largest national parks in Norway.… Read more
Blåfjella-Skjækerfjella National Park
Dovre-Sunndalsfjella National Park is a Norwegian national park located in a high mountain area of ​​Dovre and Sunndalsfjella, where Sør-Trøndelag,… Read more
Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park
Femundsmarka National Park is one of the largest continuous, unspoilt wilderness regions in Southern Scandinavia. A great area for canoeing and… Read more
Femundsmarka National Park
Interactive exhibition for children and adults with the theme farm life, biodiversity and wild reindeer. Opening Hours Summer Mon-Sat 11-17, Sun… Read more
Forollhogna National Park Information center
Gutulia was made a national park in 1968. The area, measuring 19 km², is located between the Gutuli Lake and the Swedish border. Due to its primeval… Read more
Gutulia National Park
Ytre Hvaler National Park consists of muddy seabeds and rocky seabottoms with its rich underwater ecosystem containing corals and kelp forest. Land… Read more
Ytre Hvaler National Park
Hallingskarvet is a very distinctive landscape element, with lots of nice paths and trails and versatile hiking, summer and winter. The terrain is… Read more
Hallingskarvet National Park
Færder National Park is one of Norway's most important areas for coastal outdoor recreation, and large areas are secured as publicly owned recreation… Read more
Færder National Park
Raet National Park was established in 2016, and is the region’s first of its kind. It stretches from Hasseltangen in… Read more
Raet National Park
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    Leaving it as you found it

    Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, and spectacular glaciers. Preserving this landscape, its communities, and the way of life is essential for locals and visitors alike.

    Norwegian philosophy is very much that conservation is everyone’s responsibility. Try to leave as small a footprint as possible. Leave it as you would like to find it is the mantra - Take only pictures, keep only memories.

    Quality of life is what it is all about, not only now, but for the time to come as well. It’s about recognizing that everybody else are just as important as ourselves, and taking steps to implement that thought in all aspects of life. It’s neither easy nor quickly done. But it is definitely worth it.

    The right of access

    As long as you understand and follow a few basic rules and regulations, you are free to walk almost everywhere in the Norwegian countryside. Outdoor recreation is an important part of the national identity, and access to nature is considered a right established by law.

    The so called right of access (“allemannsretten”) has been part of the Outdoor Recreation Act since 1957, it ensures that everybody can experience nature, even on larger privately owned areas.

    The main rules are easy: Be considerate and thoughtful. Make sure you pick up your rubbish and show respect for nature and people – leave the landscape as you would want to find it.

    Safety in the mountain

    Norway is an incredible place to explore, with untamed mythical landscapes, mountains, valleys, and fjords. Before you enter the outdoors, get familiar with the nine simple rules of the Norwegian mountain code to help you stay safe.

    1. Plan your trip and inform others about the route you have selected.
    2. Adapt the planned routes according to ability and conditions.
    3. Pay attention to the weather and the avalanche warnings.
    4. Be prepared for bad weather and frost, even on short trips.
    5. Bring the necessary equipment so you can help yourself and others.
    6. Choose safe routes. Recognize avalanche terrain and unsafe ice.
    7. Use a map and a compass. Always know where you are.
    8. Don’t be ashamed to turn around.
    9. Conserve your energy and seek shelter if necessary.

    Read the mountain code with supplementary comments.

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