Dovrefjell is a mountain area in Central Norway that forms a natural barrier between East Norway and Middle Norway - "det Nordenfjeldske" (Norway "north of the mountains", i.e. Dovrefjell). It was long believed to be Norway's highest mountains and remains as national symbol of sturdiness and durability. Most of the areas on the either side of road E6/Dovre railway line from Oppdal to Dombås are protected as national parks.
The area has been heavily trafficked during and probably preceding historical times. Due to often harsh weather and road conditions, it has also been a barrier and a risk to the traveler. But nowadays, E6 and the Dovre railway is almost never closed due to extreme weather (less frequent than once a year).
There are marked routes (summer) and (mostly unstaffed) cabins for hikers, but long trips, tough terrain and often hash weather makes this an area for the experienced hiker. But staying in the valleys around the mountain, there are lot of nice and not-demanding day-trips with beautiful sceneries, a unique plant life, knowledge about local culture and a change to get a glimpse of parts of the animal life: maybe a golden eagle soaring overhead, a muskox (keep your distance!), or if really lucky a reindeer in the distance.
Most of the area has been protected as two national parks combined with numerous protected areas. The national parks are:
- Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park, founded 2002, which encompasses the previous and much smaller Dovrefjell National Park established 1974.
- Dovre National Park, founded 2003, connecting the protected areas in the Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park with Rondane National Park.
Dovrefjell has a very central role in Norwegian mythology, history and mind. The name on Trøndelag plus Northern Norway - "det Nordenfjeldske" reflects this: There was no need to include the name of the mountain - it was obvious that it was Dovrefjell. When Norway got its constitution in 1814, the "founding fathers" at the Constituent Assembly swore, after having signed the Constitution; "United and true until the mountains of Dovrefjell do crumble." King Harold 1st, who made Norway an unified country, were brought up for several years by the giant (troll) Dovre in Dovrefjell. According to the saga, of course.
In Henrik Ibsen's dramatic poem Peer Gynt, the "Mountain King" lives in Dovrefjell. Edvard Grieg composed the orchestral piece In the Hall of the Mountain King for Ibsen's drama. This instantly recognizable music is widely used in popular culture from jazz and progrock to classical movies such as Fritz Lang's M.
Several mountain inns were established in the Middle Ages to house pilgrims to Trondheim, officials and other travellers. Two of them are still in service – see Sleep below. Also the old pilgrim routes are still walk-able and made accessible for hikers and pilgrims.
Snøhetta summit in the middle of the area, at 2,286 m (7,500 ft), was long assumed to be Norway's highest mountain – until Jotunheimen was surveyed in the 19th century.
Flora and faunaEdit
Due to its central placement and relatively mild climate Dovrefjell is considered a botanical hotspot. To get an overview visit the Alpine botanical garden at Kongsvoll.
The area around Drivdalen, Snøhetta and Hjerkinn is of particular botanical interest. The three Knutshøene peaks are extremely rich in rare alpine plants, many of which were protected in 1905 and more in 1911. The Drivdalen valley consists of loose slate and limestone, also home to many rare plants.
The Fokstumyrene moorland is first and foremost known for a unique bird life, but here also many different orchids as well. This moorland was well known already in the mid-1800s. The area attracted collectors from all over Europe and in 1917 there were less than 20 nesting bird species left on the marshes. In 1923, Fokstumyrene was fully protected and got even stricter protection in 1969.
Dovrefjell has a dry, cool, continental climate. Some of the driest places (such as Hjerkinn) in Norway (and all of Europe) are on the plateau. Winters are cold and summers mild.
The main south-north highway in Norway E6 and main railway Dovrebanen run over Dovrefjell from Dombås to Oppdal. These are largely parallel, although car allows flexibility to stop anywhere. The railway only has two stations on this leg.
- Hjerkinn: Close to the highest point on the railroad. No settlement, but there are two campgrounds, some hotels and a youth hostel
- Kongsvoll: No settlement, but Kongsvoll fjellstue (mountain lodge) is nearby
The small settlements Fokstua and Drivstua, which also have mountain lodges (fjellstuer), are not served by the railroad any more.
If you arrive Norway by plane from abroad, all trains on Dovrebanen and all long-distance buses on E6 stop at Oslo Airport Gardermoen. (Do not go to Torp if going to Dovrefjell, unless you want to stay over night in Oslo.)
Details - see Get around.
Fees and permitsEdit
There are no fees or permits needed for individual travellers. Just obey the park rules. Mostly the ordinary Every Man's rights and the associated duties apply.
Keep distance to wildlife especially during times of calving and rising the small, always at least 200 m to musk oxen and 300 m to Arctic foxes. The wild reindeer here are much shyer than the semi-domestic reindeer elsewhere in the country and should not be disturbed – if you see them, back off calmly.
Leave old structures and ancient pitfalls alone. Don't build cairns. If you use stones for setting up your tent, put them back afterwards, with the upper side upwards.
Use existing paths and trails where possible. These are often marked with discrete cairns.
Biking in the national parks is allowed only part of the year along certain routes (Dovrefjell-Sunndal. E-bikes are counted as a motorised vehicle.
Use of motorised vehicles forbidden in the national parks, off-roading also outside the protected areas. No parking in the non-built-up areas.
Drones are not allowed.
Dogs must be on a leash 1 March–20 August. At other times rules vary by municipality. In any case, dogs mustn't scare wildlife.
Organised trips, for instance guided tours, require permission from the Park Authorities[dead link].
E 136 and the railway Raumabanen run along the south-western edge from Dombås to Åndalsnes (and Molde/Ålesund), national highways R70 and R62 from Oppdal via Sunndalsøra to Molde along the north-western edge, R29 from E6 at Hjerkinn via Folldal to Alvdal (R3) along the south-eastern edge and R3 from Alvdal via Tynset to Ulsberg (E6) along the eastern edge.
By railway the following stations on Dovrebanen are good starting points (south to north): Dombås, Hjerkinn, Kongsvoll and Oppdal. At Dombås, the Raumabanen railway branches off to Åndalsnes, with Lesja, Lesjaverk, Bjorli and Åndalsnes as actual starting points. All trains are operated by Norwegian State Railways (NSB).
By car or bus Dombås is about 340 km from Oslo along E6. Oppdal is 80 km further.
The distance from Dombås to Åndalsnes along E136 is about 105 km. From Oppdal one may take R70 westwards to Sunndalsøra (70 km) and further along R62 in direction of Molde. By own car or bike the trip along Aursjøvegen from Sunndalsøra to Eikesdalen over the mountains (no caravans!) is very impressive, further to Eresfjorden and R660 and R64 to Åndalsnes/Molde, or R660 to Eidsvågen (back on R62 between Sunndalsøra and Molde).
The NSB operates the railways. All the roads mentioned above are served by bus. Lavprisekspressen operates E6 solely (you must book online beforehand), Norway Bussekspress operates on all the other roads mentioned above, except R29. There is a local bus meeting the trains at Hjerkinn along R29 going to and from Alvdal.
- Kongevegen over Dovrefjell. The traditional route over Dovrefjell, between the churches of Dovre and Oppdal (100 km). The route in itself traces back to times immemorial, but in the early 18th century it was made a publicly maintained route, with inns etc. kongeveg ("King's road") was a designation of such roads. In moderns times you can hike all the route or choose to see part of it. Three tours of 7–12 km are suggested: from the Dovre village to one of the highest points of the route (Allmannrøysa, 1210 m), from Jøroskloppa (parking by E6) or Hjerkinn fjellstue to the equally high Hjerkinnhø, and Vårstigen ("spring path"), the most famous stretch (Gammelholet–Nestasvollan–Hesthåggån).
- Saint Olaf's Way. Gudbrandsdalsleden of the Saint Olaf's Way pilgrimage (or slow tourism) route, from the ruins of the St. Hallvard Cathedral to Nidarosdomen in Trondheim, pass through Dovrefjell. Here the part from the village Dovre to Hjerkinn is described.
- Dovrefjell Adventures. Dovrefjell Adventures is an activity company offering cycling roundtrips, bike rental and guided tours in the Dovrefjell and Rondane area. They offer the cycling route Tour de Dovre with bike rental and luggage transport, and bike rental options include mountain and e-bikes.
- 1 Hjerkinn fjellstue, NO-2661 Hjerkinn, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 11 June–September, apartments all year. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:30. One of the two "Fjellstuer" (Mountain Inns) from medieval times still in service. Hotel rooms, apartments and camping. Self-catering or board. Arranges tours with Icelandic horses in the summer. The place was burnt down in 1718 to deny the Swedish army lodging. The main building burnt again in 1990. Breakfast and linen are included with the hotel rooms, which have Wi-Fi and en-suite facilities. Pilegrimsstua is simple communal lodging (own sleeping bag) for five persons, mainly lone wanderers, in a building from the 18th century (the other lodgings are 21st-century). Meals can normally be ordered, but during COVID-19 served only for those with board. Electricity and showers included. Pets welcome, stable available. Double 1670 kr, apartment 1575–2130 kr, bed 450 kr, car/caravan 350 kr, motorcycle + tent 280, tent 120 kr/person; breakfast 165 kr, dinner 410 kr (for those without board), linen 140–175 kr.
- 2 Kongsvold fjellstue, NO-7340 Oppdal. One of the two "Fjellstuer" (Mountain Inns) from medieval times still in service. Like other places around, it was burnt down in 1718 to deny the Swedish army lodging.
- 3 Toftemo Turiststasjon, Vestsidevegen 1 (2 km north from the settlement Dovre, just off the E6), ☏ , email@example.com. Couching inn from the 1830s to 1913, when the railway was opened. Since then a tourist accommodation. Quiet and peaceful facilities. Hotel and hostel rooms (1–6 persons), cabins (1–4) and glamping tents (1–4). Also camping space (no reservation needed) for tents, trailers and RVs. Swimming pool in summer. Bicycles and e-bikes for hire. Hotel room 1140 kr, single 900 kr, family 1500–2000 kr; hostel room without breakfast 600 kr, 6 pers 800 kr; 4-person cabin 600 kr, glamping 2 pers. 1440 kr; caravan, 2 pers. 350, tent 2 pers. 190 kr.
Keep 150 m (490 ft) to the nearest house. To avoid wear, camp at the huts when possible (there is usually a fee, which includes using the facilities). Where you don't have access to toilets, follow advice of leave-no-trace camping.
Musk oxen can be dangerous, make sure to always keep a distance of at least 200 metres. Unlike other wild animals on mainland Norway, the musk oxen do not flee, but instead form a defensive formation and will attack when approached, at 60 km/h (37 mph).
There is mobile phone coverage only in parts of the area.
Have appropriate clothes and be prepared for drastic changes in the weather. Have map and compass and the skill to use them, or go with guided tours.
|Routes through Dovrefjell|
|Trondheim ← Melhus ←||N S||→ Otta → Oslo|