Jotunheimen and northwards, summer ride 2

Jotunheimen in Norway is a national park and  mountainous area of roughly 3,500 km².  July 26th I left Oslo for another Norwegian long weekend  ride.

Jotunheimen is a fantastic area for trekking, fishing, and camping . You can also rent cabins,  summer or winter. High season can be pretty expensive. According to Norwegian law, aka the right to roam,  you are free to camp anywhere you like. One rule is that your tent should be at least 150 meters away from the nearest house.

For details see this page.

Jotunheimen National Park, my destination for the day

Jotunheimen National Park, my destination for the day

Departure, going northwest

I’d taken a day off work because Friday afternoon till Sunday evening would not be enough time.  The plan was to ride to two remarkable, scenic places, Geiranger and Trollstigen. But in the opposite order. Staying two nights at a high mountain lodge in Jotunheimen was practical because of distance, both to Trollstigen and Oslo.

To save time I did a bit of main road riding in the beginning. Didn’t stop until I was in the valley Valdres. Right before Leira I decided it was time for a cup of coffee and a bite. The day was absolutely gorgeous and the high pressure would stay past the weekend.

Fine old automobiles

Some were out cruising with their old cars, a Mercedes and a Volvo P1800, made famous in “The Saint” series.

After a quick lunch I continued to Leira, took off from the main road and followed the road on the west side of Strondafjorden. First on Lovegen, then at Ulnes Fv261 further north. The temperature continued to rise. So much so it was a smart choice to be riding in mesh gear!

In Valdres: Lovegen with Strondafjorden on the right hand side

In Valdres: Lovegen with Strondafjorden on the right hand side

I didn’t know at the time but luck had it that after some kilometers on pavement, the road changed to gravel. It lasted for many miles. Came upon an even smaller road with a barrier, but no padlock.

Gravel roads in Valdres

On gravel road in Valdres

There was almost no traffic on the road. E16 runs on the other side, but it’s less interesting.  It’ll take you faster to where you want to go but in a less interesting way. For me the journey is a vital part of the experience. As a result, I detour quite a bit, bet most riders do the same.

Upper Valdres

Further up in Valdres , still on the west side of the river, my road merged with E16, now also called Tyinvegen. I followed it up a bit, but then took off again on a small with the easy name “Tørpegardsvegen”. By the way, “Veg” is the new-Norwegian term for “Vei”, e.g.  road.

Towards Jotunheimen: Along Tørpegardsvegen in uppe Valdres

Along Tørpegardsvegen in uppe Valdres

At first it cut right up towards some mountain I don’t know the name of. Not one single car in sight, and no people. if you ride around, or drive around in the country side of Norway you seldom get a sensory overload with rgds to crowds, or noise. Quite the contrary!

Towards Jotunheimen, riding along Hensåsvegen

Towards Jotunheimen, riding along Hensåsvegen

Higher up, Tørpegardsvegen became Hensåsvegen. A little later, further up and further in the road changed name to Vennisvegen. If you come along this road you will be met by mountains, and lake Vangsmjøse. Or a scenery like below (minus the fake oil paint effect).

Along Vennisvegen. View to lake Vangsmjøse and some prettty mountains

Along Vennisvegen. View to lake Vangsmjøse and some pretty mountains

It’s was a beautiful sight. Especially with weather like it was on July 26th. Hot “as hell” in the sun but I could not ride by the incredible scenery without stopping, several times to take pictures.

To Jotunheimen: by lake Vangsmjøse

To Jotunheimen: The red cow taking a brake at lake Vangsmjøse

Øvre Årdal

Closer to lake Vangsmjøse the road became a gravel road which made it all the more fun. Why almost everyone else take the bigger pavement road on the other side of the lake beats me. Well now you know, if you ever comes this way. I’ll post the route. 

Jotunheimen next: along Vennisvegen in Valdres

Jotunheimen next: along Vennisvegen in Valdres, oh gravel joy 🙂

Met a few along the lake, walking or bicycling. One thing that sets adventure riding, even on modest gravel roads, apart from riding pavement. Sometimes you’re riding along, entirely by yourself. Although in Norway that can be a pretty common thing. Lots of space and few people.

Lake Tyin, which

Lake Tyin, which is both in Oppland and Sogn og Fjordane county

Back on E16 I followed it for a few miles up to Tyin. Then got onto onto Fv53, also called Tyinvegen which goes up and along Lake Tyin. The lake sits at about 3.200ft. Here Rv53 bends west towards Øvre Årdal.

Beginning the descent towards Øvre Årdal

Beginning the descent towards Øvre Årdal

The descent towards Øvre Årdal is pretty cool, road or pavement quality good. Further down you hit on some hairpins and sharp turns, that’s when you see Øvre Årdal down below.

Descent towards Øvre Årdal along Fv53

Descent towards Øvre Årdal along Fv53

Coming into the little town it was sweltering, with gear on. Almost like in Germany in June, not a breeze, no wind.  Because of that I went through the city standing on the motorcycle. Riding standing is air conditioning for a motorcyclist.

Fv503 begins on the opposite side of Øvre Årdal. In the beginning it’s called Fardalsvegen, but changes name to Tindvegen higher up in the mountains.

Jotunheimen

Fv 503 basically goes on the edge of Jotunheimen National Park to a place called Turtagrø. Here it merges with Fv55. Very few roads leads into the national park. There are some, but they usually end at barriers with padlocks and trenches on either side.

The first part of Fv503 is not too exciting, one reason being the power grid that comes across the mountain. It’s a vital installation that supplies the Hydro Aluminium plant in Øvre Årdal with power.

Jotunheimen: Views along Fv53

Plenty of nice views into mountains and across valleys along Fv53

But higher up things starts to get a little bit more interesting. At Turtagrø you can take Fv55 down to Skjolden, which sits at the end of Lustrafjorden. I didn’t have time, will be for another/later expedition.

The edge of Jotunheimen National Park see from the northern side

The edge of Jotunheimen National Park see from the northern side

There’s no lack or shortage of alternative scenic routes in this part of Norway. But some might mean long detours. It was late in the day and I still had a while to go to my destination. Besides, I could not ride past the beautiful surroundings without making a few stops to capture it “on film”.

Jotunheimen is a fantastic recreation area, whether for fishing or hiking, winter or summer

Jotunheimen is a fantastic recreation area, whether for fishing or hiking, winter or summer

Leirvassbu in Jotunheimen

Onto Rv55 the road went northeast, descending slowly into a valley on the northern side of Jotunheimen. Down in the valley I took to the reight, onto a small road leading to a tollgate. The last stretch to my destination for the day, Leirvassbu. A road that turned out to be in a bad state, partially due to a flood in spring.

Leirdalsvegen into Leirvassbu and Jotunheimen, one of the few roads into the edge of the national park

Leirdalsvegen into Leirvassbu and Jotunheimen, one of few roads options into the park itself

Good thing I have an adventure motorcycle! It’s designed to tackle bad roads of any kinds. The suspension on the red cow eats this kind of road surface for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The Red cow in Jotunheimen, along Leirdalsvegen

The Red cow in Jotunheimen, along Leirdalsvegen

If you come here by car, or touring motorcycle, the speed limit may be the upper boundary of your courage.  You can camp along the road, a stream nearby delivers fresh supplies of fantastic, pure, crystal clear mountain glacier water.

The Red cow in Jotunheimen, along Leirdalsvegen looking north

The Red cow in Jotunheimen, along Leirdalsvegen looking north

20-30 minutes later I arrived at Leirvassbu, where I had booked myself in for two nights.  Rooms ranges from the very simple, to slightly less simple.  A place for hikers or skiers. Leirvassbu is closed from late fall till Easter.

Leirvassbu in Jotunheimen, by the very border of the national reserve/park

Leirvassbu in Jotunheimen, by the very border of the national reserve/park

The location of this place is unbeatable. Wild nature awaits at the doorstep. If you’re a hiker, just pack up and be gone for days if you so choose.

They also serve beer, albeit bloody expensive beer. Food is decent too. With full stomach I went for a little evening walk, up and in, before returning. The next day, Trollstigen & Geiranger was waiting. Below a snapshot of the route north.

The route day 1, from Oslo to Leirvassbu, Jotunheimen national park

The route day 1, from Oslo to Leirvassbu, Jotunheimen national park

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