Birdseye view of the Reisa River and the valley with the green forest and the mountainsides
©Svartfoss Adventure - MagyMedia

Reisa National Park

Reisa National Park takes over where the Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau ends abruptly. The Reisa River has cut into the mountain plateau like an axe blade in the landscape to form the long Reisa Valley. You will discover an eldorado of spectacular waterfalls, deep canyons and harsh forest. Prepare yourself for a unique piece of Norwegian nature!

Reisa National Park covers an area of 806 km² in Nordreisa municipality in Troms County. The national park was established in 1986 to protect the area and preserve the beautiful and untouched mountain and valley landscape, complete with its diverse fauna and unique geological deposits. Reisa National Park is also home to one of the richest Arctic faunas in Norway. 

The Reisa Valley’s mighty landscape

Reisa National Park stretches in a north-westerly direction from the mountain plateau landscape in the southeast to a more alpine landscape closer to the coast in the northwest. The nature here is completely unique with narrow. The Reisa Valley has many side valleys and the Reisa River cuts down through a majestic canyon. The national park borders the 80 km² Ráisduottarháldi protected landscape area to the west and the Käsivarsi wilderness area in Finland to the southwest.

The national park is home to several impressive waterfalls, including the famous Mollisfossen. The highest waterfall in Northern Europe, Mollisfossen is 269 m high with a free fall of 140 m. A few kilometres north of the cabin in Nedrefoss is another beautiful waterfall, Imofossen, formed by two rivers plunging over a vertical rock wall into a narrow canyon.

Visitor Point – Ovi Raaishiin

If you drive to the end of the road at the top of the Reisa Valley, you will reach Ovi Raishiin, which serves at the gateway to the national park. This is a wonderful place to visit and an excellent starting point for hikes into the national park. At Ovi Raishiin (Visitor Point), you will find information about the Reisa Valley and the national park, several fireplaces and cabins following local building traditions.

  • Did you know you can experience the national park in a unique and special way...? You can enjoy a hot dinner and listen to stories about local history and culture around the camp fire as the Northern Lights dance in the sky overhead. Read more about wilderness experiences at Visitor Point.

This is a great place to visit for the whole family. You can learn about the Reisa Valley in the mountain library, relax in the many rest areas and gaze into the national park from the viewpoint. During the summer season, Ovi Raishiin is manned two days a week by a national park host.

There is basic, unattended accommodation at Ovi Raaishiin. The Nordkalottstua cabin sleeps four and is available year-round. Visit the Halti building in Storslett to make a booking and pick up the key. Staying in this cabin costs NOK 175 per person per night. 

Nature-based experiences in National Park

The varied nature of the Reisa Valley and surrounding areas offer visitors opportunities for wild and spectacular nature-based experiences year-round.

River boat trips and canoeing

During the summer months, the main valley from Saraelv to Nedrefoss is extremely popular among visitors, in the river as well as on land. The Reisa River is perfect for travelling by riverboat or paddling by canoe, but please pay special attention to the fact that the river level rises quickly due to rapid snow melting in warm weather or in heavy rain.

Hiking

The are many hiking options in Reisa National Park for those wanting to explore on foot.

One of the options is to follow the Arctic Trail (Nordkalottleden). This is a marked trail that follows the western side of the Reisa River right up to Nedrefoss, across the river via a swing bridge up the eastern side of the river to Imo and then up onto the mountain plateau all the way to Ráisjávri.

If you would prefer a shorter hike, you can start at the visitors’ centre at Ovi Raishiin and follow the trail on the western side of the river for roughly 9 km to Sieimma. When you reach Sieimma, you can admire the Stone Age Rock Art, which has been accessible to the public since 2013.

Hunting and fishing

In the lower reaches of the Reisa watercourse, you can fish for salmon, sea trout and Arctic char right up to the Imofossen waterfall. Salmon fishing in the Reisa River is a popular activity for locals as well as anglers from around the world! Several have had the pleasure of catching a salmon weighing more than 20 kg! Upriver from Imo, there is good Arctic char fishing and, if you are lucky, you can also catch perch, burbot, northern pike and European whitefish. Moreover, there are stocks of northern pike in Ráisjávri.

Small game hunting is also possible in the area. Two noted hunters from the Reisa Valley are Kristine and Johanne Thybo Hansen. The young hunting and outdoor recreation enthusiasts have been featured as the “Hunting twins” (Jegertvillingene) in several programmes on Norwegian TV.

  • Hunting and fishing in the national park are regulated by the applicable laws so it’s important to remember to buy a valid hunting and/or fishing license. Read more
Skiing

In the wintertime, the main valley is characterised by many frozen waterfalls and ice columns from the countless tributaries of the Reisa River. You can experience this beautiful sight by putting on skis and skiing along the frozen Reisa River or the riverbank. Always consider safety and take precautions when entering frozen lakes and rivers!

Flora and fauna in Reisa National Park

The area has a rich flora and fauna due to the large variation in the bedrock and landscape. The flora and fauna in the Reisa Valley both have among the largest number of species in Northern Norway, with a sprinkling of eastern and northern species. There are good living conditions here for birds of prey. Predators such as wolverines and lynxes are common sights in this area, while sightings of wolves, bears and polar foxes are less common.

When it comes to plants, there are botanical treats on the riverbank and up in the high mountains. A full 193 of Scandinavia’s 230 mountain plants have been observed in Reisa National Park, making the area completely unique in a botanical perspective. You can find rare plant species here that you won’t find further south, such as red-tipped lousewort, Arctic bell heather, Arctic arnica and the rhododendron species Lapland rosebay. The most exclusive species is the small green orchid species, the blunt leaved bog orchid.

Cabins and accommodation options in the national park

Visitors to Reisa National Park may stay overnight in several unmanned cabins and turf huts. The hiking association has two unmanned cabins in the area, one at Nedrefoss and the other at Ovi Rashiin, while Statskog has a cabin at Ráisjávri.

Cabins open for free use include Sieimmahytta (8 km from Saraelv) Vuomadathytta (22 km from Saraelv) Naustneset hytte (26 km from Saraelv) Imogammen (33 km from Saraelv) and Arthurgammen at Luvddidjohka (36 km from Saraelv).

History of the Reisa Valley

The Reisa Valley has been a meeting place for the Norwegian, Sami and Finnish cultures for several centuries. The area has been used by reindeer herders and the local population, which is of Sami, Kven (Finnish) and Norwegian origins. This is reflected by place names and cultural heritage sites.

  • Read more about the history of the Reisa Valley and the rich cultural heritage here!

The settlement in the Reisa Valley can be traced well back in history to the Sami hunting community. Finnish immigrant (known as Kvens) settled in the valley in the 18th century. It is widely believed that they introduced the charateristic river boats in the valley.

The Reisa Valley and surrounding mountains have long been important areas for hunting, trapping and fishing. Grouse are still snared here in the traditional way from time to time.

  • Did you know that the national park is still an important grazing area for reindeer? Consequently, you must take special care if you visit during the calving season in April and May.