Hardangervidda National Park
|Hardangervidda National Park|
Counties: Buskerud, Hordaland, and Telemark
|Area||3,422 km2 (1,321 sq mi)|
|Governing body||Directorate for Nature Management|
Hardangervidda National Park (Norwegian: Hardangervidda nasjonalpark), at 3,422 square kilometers, is Norway's largest national park. It spans from Numedal and Uvdal in the east and Røvelseggi and Ullensvang in the west across the Hardanger mountain plateau (Hardangervidda). Designated as a national park in 1981, today it serves as a popular tourist destination for activities such as hiking, climbing, fishing, and cross-country skiing. The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT) maintains a comprehensive network of huts and paths across Hardangervidda. The Bergensbanen railway line and the main Highway 7 cross the plateau.
It has the southernmost stock of several arctic animals and plants. Its wild reindeer herds are among the largest in the world.
Several hundred nomadic stone age settlements have been found in the area, most likely related to the migration of the reindeer. Ancient trails cross the plateau, linking western and eastern Norway; one example is the Nordmannsslepa linking Eidfjord and Veggli in the Numedal valley with Hol and Uvdal.
The name Hardangervidda is put together by the name of the district Hardanger and the finite form of vidde, 'wide plain, large mountain plateau'.
Geography and geology
The plateau is the largest peneplain (eroded plain) in Europe, covering an area of about 6,500 km2 (2,500 sq mi) at an average elevation of 1,100 m (3,500 ft). The highest point on the plateau is at the top of the Hardangerjøkulen glacier, which reaches a height of 1,863 m (6,112 ft).
The landscape of the Hardangervidda is characterised by barren, treeless moorland interrupted by numerous pools, lakes, rivers and streams. There are significant differences between the west side, which is dominated by rocky terrain and expanses of bare rock, and the east side, which is much flatter and more heavily vegetated. The climate also varies between the two sides: it is considerably wetter on the west side than on the east, with over 1,000 mm per year (39 inches) recorded in some parts. The prominent peak of Hårteigen 1,690 m (5,545 ft) is visible across much of the plateau.
Much of the Hardangervidda's geology is extremely ancient. The rolling fells of the Hardangervidda are the remnants of mountains that were worn down by the action of glaciers during the Ice Ages. The bedrock is mainly of Precambrian and Cambro-Silurian origin.
Flora and fauna
The whole of the Hardangervidda is above the tree line. Its alpine climate enables the presence of many species of arctic animals and plants further south than anywhere else in Europe. Its wild reindeer herds are among the largest in the world, with some 15,000 animals recorded in 1996 and around 8,000 in 2008. They migrate across the plateau during the year, moving from their winter grazing lands on the east side of the Hardangervidda, where they graze on lichen, to their breeding grounds in the more fertile west of the plateau.
The varying climate of the plateau has a marked effect on the flora, which is richer on the wetter west side than in the drier east; much of the plateau is covered by coarse grasses, mosses (especially sphagnum) and lichens.
In the Holocene climatic optimum (stone age) 9000 – 5000 years ago, the regional climate was warmer, and large parts of Hardangervidda were wooded; pine logs can still be found preserved in bogs well above today's treeline. With the predicted warming, Hardangervidda could again be largely wooded ().
The national park has two visitor centres: the Hardangervidda Natursenter (Nature Centre) in the village of Øvre Eidfjord in Eidfjord municipality, and the Hardangervidda Nasjonalparksenter (National Park Centre) at Skinnarbu in Tinn municipality which is located near the lake Møsvatnet, the town of Rjukan, and the mountain village of Rauland.
The Hardangervidda has been occupied for thousands of years; several hundred nomadic stone age settlements have been found in the area, most likely related to the migration of the reindeer. Ancient trails cross the plateau, linking western and eastern Norway. One example is the "Nordmannsslepa" linking Eidfjord and Veggli in the Numedal valley with Hol and Uvdal. It is still a key transit route between Oslo and Bergen. The Bergensbanen railway line and the main Highway 7 cross the plateau.
Hardangervidda is accessible all year round. June/July to September/October is great for hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, cycling, horseback riding, canoeing, hunting and other summer activities. Hiking is the easiest and best way to experience Hardangervidda national park. The Norwegian Trekking Association offers a network of hiking paths and cabins connecting Hardangervidda from Haukeliseter and Mogen in the south to Finse in the north, Rjukan and Geilo in the east and Eidfjord and Odda in the west.
- "The Halne Area, Hardangervidda. Use of a High Mountain Area during 5000 Years - An Interdisciplinary Case Study", Dagfinn Moe, Svein Indrelid & Arthur Fasteland, in "The Cultural Landscape: Past, Present and Future", ed. Hilary H. Birks
- Gillespie, Tom (29 August 2016). "SLAUGHTERED BY LIGHTNING. Bodies of 323 reindeer litter the countryside after being struck by massive lightning bolt in Norway". The Sun. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
- Greshko, Michael (29 August 2016). "Lightning Kills More Than 300 Reindeer in Rare Mass Death". National Geographic. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
- "Hardanger Plateau." The Crystal Reference Encyclopedia. 2005.
- "Hardanger Plateau." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007.
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