Norwegian Mountains

Norway is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe dominated north to south by a series of mountain ranges of the Scandinavian Mountains. With a low population density, it its also one of the least visited and remains a wild and undiscovered mountain wilderness.

In the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, Norway was covered by a thick ice sheet, which has gradually melted and retreated, forming the mountains, rivers, lakes and fjords we see today. 

There are reportedly over 150,000, mainly small lakes, with the largest being Lake Mjosa. The famous Norwegian fjords are the result of deep valleys being etched out by the retreating glaciers as is its jagged western coastline which is made up of over 50,000 islands and long deep fjords. Famous fjords are Baknafjord, Geirangerfjord, Hardangerfjord, Moldefjord, Sognefjord, Trondheimfjord and Vestfjord.

Today, the majority of Norway is a rugged topography with rich forested valleys and mountains and some of the few remaining ice age glaciers. In fact Norway is home to the largest glacier on the continental European landmass, Jostedalsbreen. In the far northeast above the Arctic Circle, frozen arctic tundra dominates the landscape, from Vardo, south and west. This tundra receives little precipitation and has a short growing season, so it is generally a treeless plain of low shrubs and grasses. 

A south central plateau slopes into the Trondelag, a hilly and mountainous farming area with strips of fertile land on the edges of the Trondheim Fjord. Additional lowlands are found in the southeast, and along parts of the southern coastline. 

The highest mountain is Galdhøpiggen at 2469m. Significant rivers include the Glama, the country's longest, and the Dramselva, Lagen (two of them) and the Tana in the far north.

The mountain ranges also form the main boundaries among Norway's districts, typically running north-south. Several of the ranges have had road and railroad passes since historical times but many of these close over the winter.

Norwegian mountain ranges provide some of the most attractive recreational areas in Europe, both during summer and winter.  There is a network of Norwegian 'hytter' (mountain cabins), and cross country ski and hiking trails which are operated by the Norwegian Mountain Touring Association allowing for weeks of uninterrupted hiking or cross-country skiing in the mountains. Find out more about 'hytter' in our blog "What is a Norwegian Hytte?"

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