Northern Sami: Avviljohka
A snowmobile caravan on the frozen Ivalo River
|Length||180 km (110 mi)|
The Ivalo starts from the Korsa fjelds hugging the border between Inari and Enontekiö. The first streams branching off of it can be found on the bogs of Peltotunturi on the border between Finland and Norway along the western border of the Lemmenjoki National Park. The river flows into Lake Inari from a 5-kilometre (3 mi) long delta approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from the village of the same name, which is located on both banks of this meandering, shallow run. The Repo, Tolos, Sota and Kylä Rivers, the latter two of which are renowned for the gold found in them, are some of the Ivalo River's tributaries.
For almost its entire length, the Ivalo flows through wilderness. Near its headwaters, the river meanders as a narrow stream through the southernmost bogs of the Lemmenjoki National Park. Halfway down its length, the national park becomes the Hammastunturi Wilderness Area, through which it flows almost all the way to Ivalo.
River of gold
The Ivalo has been nicknamed the "river of gold". During the Finnish gold rush to Lapland at the end of the 19th century, places like Kultala were built. The movie Lapin kullan kimallus by director Åke Lindman portrays the height of the gold rush. Hundreds of gold claims, differing greatly in size, are still staked out along the banks of the river and its tributaries.
The Ivalo continues to gain in popularity as a tourist attraction. In 2005, it was named the Destination of the Year at the Retki 2005 fair. A 60-kilometre (37 mi) long stretch of rapids from Kuttura to Tolonen has been a traditional destination for canoers. Lately, it has become popular with whitewater rafters, as well. Tourists can hike to areas where gold was and is still being mined by following marked trails. A suspension bridge spans the Ivalo river at Kultala.
Fishermen can try to catch trout and graylings. With luck, they might even snag a pike or whitefish. The river's tributaries are teeming with trout that range from 20 to 25 centimetres (8 to 10 in) long.
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