Lofotodden National Park was established in summer 2019, which makes it the youngest of Norwegian national parks. Protected area includes 99 km² of Moskenesoya island (and coastal waters), locally referred to as ‘Yttersia’. It stretches all the way from northern to the southern end of the island and covers the wildest and mostly uninhabited land. Yttersia is what comes to mind when thinking of Lofoten – remote rugged mountains, beaches, and spectacular fjords.
The best known Lofoten locations within the national park are (from north to south): Roren and Yttersandheia, Ryten and Kvalvika Beach, Horseid Beach, Bunes Beach, Hermannsdalstinden, Tindstinden and the whole of southernmost Moskenesoya.
In this article we will shed some light on the idea behind creating the Lofotodden National Park and the controversy around it. We will also give you ideas on how to explore the protected area and ensure you’re familiar with the Lofotodden outdoor code!
Why was the Lofotodden National Park created?
Lofotodden nasjonalpark was set to protect the wildest part of Lofoten archipelago from unlimited and uncontrolled tourism. It’s a well known fact that the islands greatly suffer from over-tourism. This had been one of the major problems for local community as well as wildlife. Despite the Lofoten depending on income from tourist industry (tourism and fishing are two main income branches), the scale of visitors traffic has caused issues in this remote community and had to be addressed. By establishing the Lofotodden National Park, Norwegian government attempted to create a zone with special protection rules and potentially impose controls over the ever-increasing tourist wave.
Some voices suggested creating an additional protection zone, part of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve, however this is still under consideration.
What is so special about this specific protected area, then? If you have been to Lofoten already, you would easily point out the unique landscape of rocky and rugged mountains rising directly from emerald waters of narrow fjords. That’s for starters; Lofoten’s landscape is unlike anywhere else in Norway. But the area is also rich in unique mountain flora and ‘was one of the first regions to become uncovered at the end of the last Ice Age. This means that some of the oldest types of mountain vegetation can be found there. The area has extremely high cultural-historical value, with traces of settlement going back to the Stone Age. Cave paintings at Kollhellaren and Bukkhammerhola have been there since Stone Age people painted them on the walls around 3,000 years ago. That says a lot about how important this area was going back a long way’ (NRK).
The controversy of Lofotodden National Park
Lofotodden nasjonalpark was established despite a loud objection of a large group of locals. Why would the community object setting up a protected zone? I guess, the major concern was related to creating a ‘national park’ rather than protecting specific areas. The main reason for creating the park was preservation of wild lands, however, ‘national parks‘ tend to attract additional tourist traffic. Hence in this respect, setting up the park may potentially mean ‘shooting themselves in the foot’.
On the other hand, a national park will be able to wire additional funds from the central budget and possibly diverse the islands income channels.
Since Lofotodden National Park was only established in 2019, it’s much too early to draw any conclusions on its impact to the islands and local community. I guess, we just have to wait and see whether establishing the park achieves the goal of protecting wildlife and unique mountainous and coastal landscape of Moskenesoya, and support developing sustainable tourism on the archipelago.
Explore Lofotodden National Park
Lofotodden National Park covers some of the most spectacular areas of Lofoten, and provides numerous stunning hiking trails. Below we listed 4 hikes located in the national park, which we think you would really enjoy (just as we did!). Listed from north to south, these are:
Roren and Yttersand Beach
Although Yttersand Beach is just outside the Lofotodden National Park boundary, Roren viewpoint is included in the protected area. We strongly encourage you to explore this easy, couple of hours hike. It doesn’t take much effort, but provides amazing views to eastern Lofoten, Ramberg, Flakstad bay, beautiful sandy Yttersand Beach and nearby mountains.
Hiking path to Roren is unmarked, but easy to find and follow. The trail will take you only to 294 masl, but you’ll love the sight from Roren viewpoint! Does it sound good? Visit our article to find out detailed information on hiking Roren and exploring Yttersand Beach. Visiting Roren is a great alternative to hiking the much busier Mannen over Haukland and Uttakleiv beaches, so if you’re keen on quieter trails, Roren is the one to pick!
Roren and Yttersand Beach quick info: total time 2.5 hours, total distance 2 km, level of difficulty: easy hill walk
Ryten and Kvalvika Beach
Hike to Ryten and Kvalvika Beach is one of the best ‘peak + beach’ walks in Lofoten. This moderate difficulty hike will take you thru the northern end of Lofotodden nasjonalpark. We recommend hiking to the top of Ryten first, before descending to the beach. The view from Ryten summit towards Flakstad and down to Kvalvika Beach is a real treat for the eyes! Visit our detailed article to learn all about hiking to Ryten and Kvalvika Beach near Fredvang!
Ryten and Kvalvika Beach quick info: total time 5 hours, total distance 7.5 km, level of difficulty: moderate
Hike to Hermannsdalstinden is one of the hardest in Lofotodden National Park. Despite the route being straightforward, the trail length of 23 km and elevation gain of 1800 metres (from Sorvagen), greatly adds to the difficulty level. Nonetheless, if carefully planned (ideally over 2 days), a hike to the top of Hermannsdalstinden can be a highlight of your Lofoten road trip. The trail winds along beautiful lakes, passes stunningly located Munkebu hut; breathtaking views will accompany you all the way up!
If you’re a confident, seasoned walker, we encourage you to have a closer look at our guide to Hermannsdalstinden hike.
Hermannsdalstinden quick info: total time 12-13 hours, total distance 23 km, level of difficulty: hard
Tindstinden is the southernmost hike we recommend in Lofotodden National Park. Similarly to Hermannsdalstinden, it starts in Sorvagen, but is much shorter and easier. It does, however, deliver on the hiking experience and views astonishingly well. Along the trail to Tindstinden you will use ropes (briefly and on lower grounds only), walk along a mildly-exposed ridge, only to finally reach the summit and be awed by the sights! Tindstinden is the best viewpoint to village Å i Lofoten, lake Ågvatnet, and even to Moskenes! In good weather, you will also have a chance to spot Munkebu hut and Vaeroy island. The summit also provides a fantastic insight into the wildest and most remote, the southernmost tip of Lofotodden, which is pretty much inaccessible.
Visit our detailed article about hiking trip to Tindstinden to find out more.
Tindstinden quick info: total time 3 hours, total distance 5 km, level of difficulty: medium
Lofotodden National Park outdoor code
Norway has a very liberal approach to wild camping; it is allowed throughout the country, with exception of only several small areas. Also, when staying off-grid, visitors are expected to behave with respect towards the local community as well as wildlife and nature. There are some things that every hiker should be aware of, while hiking and wild camping in Lofotodden National Park. These are:
- DRONE FLYING IS FORBIDDEN IN LOFOTODDEN NATIONAL PARK
- always take your rubbish with you, as there is no waste management in the wilderness! If you bothered to carry a full package of food or drink, why wouldn’t you bother to carry an empty package, which is even lighter?
- take extra care when using open fire – be aware that vast open spaces are extremely difficult to control when set alight. Don’t light a bonfire on a windy day, nor on dry bog (it can still be burning underground for days after you finished!).
- don’t disturb the wildlife nor livestock – grazing animals or ground-nesting birds suffer distress when chased either by dogs (always keep them on leash) or ‘close-up hungry’ photographers
- wild swimming and bathing is allowed in the sea, rivers, streams and lakes, but use your best judgement when enjoying them; are you polluting an important source of drinking water for others? If you think you might, why not fill up a bottle and use this water to refresh yourself a bit further from the stream/lake?
We hope that you found this short guide to enjoying Lofotodden National Park helpful and informative. Don’t hesitate to get in touch to share your experience of visiting the national park! Happy hiking!