Jotunheimen National Park

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Jotunheimen National Park
IUCN category II (national park)
Jotunheimen National Park logo.svg
View from Knutshøi towards central Jotunheimen. Øvre Leirungen is the lake in front, Gjende in the back.
LocationSogn og Fjordane and Oppland, Norway
Coordinates61°30′N 8°22′E / 61.500°N 8.367°E / 61.500; 8.367Coordinates: 61°30′N 8°22′E / 61.500°N 8.367°E / 61.500; 8.367
Area1,151 km2 (444 sq mi)
Governing bodyDirectorate for Nature Management
At Gjendesheim, looking over Lake Gjende towards Memurubu

Jotunheimen (“Home of the Giants”) National Park (Norwegian: Jotunheimen nasjonalpark) is a national park in Norway, recognized as one of the country's premier hiking and fishing regions. The national park covers 1,151 km² and is part of the larger area Jotunheimen. More than 250 peaks rise above 1,900 metres (6,000 feet), including Northern Europe's two highest peaks: Galdhøpiggen at 2,469 metres, and Glittertind at 2,465 metres.

The National Park covers most of the mountainous region of Jotunheimen, including Hurrungane, but Utladalen and its surroundings are within Utladalen Landscape Protection Area. Geographically, it lies in both Oppland and Sogn og Fjordane counties. Geologically the Jotunheimen is a Precambrian province. Glaciers have carved the hard gabbro rock massifs of the Jotunheimen, leaving numerous valleys and the many peaks.

Wildlife include the reindeer, elk, deer, wolverines and lynx. Most lakes and rivers hold trout.


Jotunheimen has been the site of hunting since before recorded time. Remains of Stone Age hunting camps have been found near the lakes Gjende and Russvatnet. These remains extend through the bronze and Iron Age, up to recorded times. The high pastures have been used as seters for at least 1000 years.

A “Royal Road” decree from the 15th century required that the residents of Lom must keep the mountain crossing passable to the middle of the Sognefjell, allowing folk from the north Gudbrandsdal access to their trading town of the period, Bergen. Caravans carried farm products down the mountains and returned with salt, iron, cloth and lutefisk.

The name Jotunheimen, or “Home of the Giants” is a relatively recent usage. Aasmund Olavsson Vinje (1818–1879), a famous Norwegian poet and journalist who is remembered for his pioneering use of nynorsk, as well as being an exponent of Norwegian romantic nationalism, coined the term in 1862, adopting it from Keilhau’s “Jotunfjellene” or the mountains of the giants. A memorial was raised in 1909 to Aa. O.Vinje at the western end of Lake Bygdin at his dear Eidsbugarden at today's outskirts of the national park where he had a private hut. Old friends and followers wanted to commemorate his contribution to appreciation of Norwegian nature and strengthening of the Norwegian national identity. Today Eidsbugarden appears as a rather large mountain tourist centre, with a newly restored hotel from 1909 that reopened in the summer of 2007, a Norwegian Mountain Touring Association (DNT) cabin and approximately 160 private huts. It can be reached by car or boat in summer and by snowmobile in winter.

In 1869 the DNT built its first hut on the shores of Lake Tyin. Today the DNT’s tourist huts make this area one of the best developed touring areas in Europe. There are also a restricted number of private cabins by the lakes.

By Royal Decree in December 1980, a national park of 1145 square kilometers was initially established in the heart of Jotunheimen. It includes much of the best of the region, including the Galdhø plateau, the Glittertind massif, Hurrungane, and the Gjende area. The park links to the Utladalen Nature Reserve, an area of 300 square kilometers.

Literary references[edit]

Jotunheimen is broadly recognized in literature, especially travel books from the 18th Century. The Jotenheim lakes of Gjende and Bygdin are in the center of many of these descriptions.

Literary references include:

  • A.O. Vinje’s Diktsamling or poetry collection of 1864 celebrated Jotenheimen.
  • Frederick Delius’ symphonic poem On the Mountains was sketched while the composer was on a walking holiday with Edvard Grieg and Christian Sinding in the Jotunheim Mountains in 1889.
  • Henrik Ibsen's drama Peer Gynt includes Peer's famous hunt description in the Jotunheim. It is here on the narrow Besseggen Ridge - or perhaps along the Knutshø ridge at the other side of Gjende - that Peer Gynt took his famous wild-reindeer ride along "the Gjendin Ridge".
  • Three in Norway, by Two of Them by J.A. Lees and W.J. Clutterbuck, includes extensive passages on three Englishmen’s fishing and reindeer hunting experiences in these mountains.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  • Adventure Roads in Norway by Erling Welle-Strand, Nortrabooks, 1996. ISBN 82-90103-71-9
  • Norway, edited by Doreen Taylor-Wilkie, Houghton Mifflin, 1996. ISBN 0-395-81912-1
  • Scandinavia; An Introductory Geography, by Brian Fullerton & Alan Williams, Praeger Publishers, 1972.