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Jotunheimen National Park is home to the country’s highest peaks, beautiful lakes, and pristine wilderness. The routes are varied in both difficulty and experience, ensuring plenty of choice for all ambitions and abilities.
Hikers from Norway and beyond flock to Jotunheimen in July and August to tackle some of Norway’s most famous trails. A short hiking season means that on the nicest days trails like Besseggen Ridge are busy and it’s important to plan ahead and book accommodation and transport in advance.
There are several common entry points to the park, but note that most of these are at the park’s border and you’ll need to hike–or take a boat–to really discover Jotunheimen. All entry points have bus connections in the summer. In the east, Gjende is a good entry point for Besseggen and the Jotunheimen Historical Route. In the north, Juvasshytta and Spiterstulen lodges provide the best base to hike Galdhøpiggen.
Further west, Leirvassbu lodge is another good starting point for multi-day treks across the park. In the very west, by the Sognefjord in Øvre Årdal, lies the trailhead for the hike up Utladalen Valley and the spectacular Vettisfossen Waterfall. In the south, Eidsbugarden is a popular base and the end point of the Jotunheimen Historical Route.
Inside the park the tourist lodges and cabins are destinations in their own right, with spectacular locations and local food. The lodges offer full-board, allowing you to pack light and enjoy the trails.
Jotunheimen is most famous for its mountains, and marked trails run to their summits and through the valleys below. The trails are often rocky and wet. Some hikes cross creeks and rivers and while bridges are placed out in summer, changing conditions can mean a water crossing is a possibility.
For the longer day hikes, some hiking experience is required. Don’t tackle a multi-day hike if you haven’t done long day hikes before. The trails can be quite remote and there is often no mobile phone coverage. Pack more food and clothes than you think you will need and consider hiring a guide if you are unsure how you will handle it.
Most of Jotunheimen lies above the treeline at 800–1,000 meters above sea level and Galdhøpiggen reaches almost 2,500 meters. In Norway, that elevation means that summer starts quite late. It is not uncommon to be able to ski in Jotunheimen in June, but by the end of the month, it’s usually possible to start hiking.
July and August are easily the most popular months and when you can expect to see crowds in the tourist lodges and on the famous routes. On very nice days you can get lucky with temperatures above 20°C, but it is more common to experience temperatures between 10 and 15°C, and even days that are much colder. Be sure to bring warm clothes even if it’s mid-July.
Summer in Jotunhiemen is short and by September the weather is much colder and there is sometimes even snow. The leaves turn a brilliant red and yellow during September decorating the area in amazing color. Weekends are still a popular time in the park, but it is much quieter during the week. There is gradually less daylight with each passing day.
The true beginning and end of the seasons varies depending on snowfalls and general weather conditions. The Norwegian national weather service provides detailed weather reports and forecasts for Jotunheimen in English.