Spreading north and east of Otta, Rondane Nasjonalpark was established in 1962 as Norway’s first national park and is now one of the country’s most popular hiking areas, its 963 square kilometres, much of which is in the high alpine zone, appealing to walkers of all abilities. The soil is poor, so vegetation is sparse – lichens, especially reindeer moss, predominate – but the views across this bare landscape are serenely beautiful, and a handful of lakes and rivers plus patches of dwarf birch forest provide some variety. Within the Rondane, the most obvious target is Rondvatnet lake, a lazy blue flash of water surrounded by wild mountain peaks. To the west of the lake are the wild cirques and jagged peaks of Storsmeden (2017m), Sagtinden (2018m) and Veslesmeden (2015m), while to the east of the lake rise Rondslottet (2178m), Vinjeronden (2044m) and Storronden (2138m). Further east still, Høgronden (2115m) dominates the landscape. The mountains in the vicinity of the lake, ten of which exceed the 2000m mark, are mostly accessible to any reasonably fit and eager walker, thanks to a dense network of trails and hiking huts/lodges. Note though that parts of the park are out of bounds during the reindeer calving season, from early May to the middle of June.
Hikes in Rondane
There are score of hikes to choose from in the Rondane, but one popular choice is the haul up from Rondvassbu mountain lodge to the top of Storronden (2138m), the first peak to the right of Rondvatnet. This makes a fine excursion for the beginner, since – except for a short steep and exposed section just below the summit – there is no really difficult terrain to negotiate and the trail is clearly signed; the round trip takes about five hours – three up and two down. Neighbouring peaks involve more arduous mountain hiking, with the finest views over the range generally reckoned to be from Vinjeronden and nearby Rondslottet, both to the north of Storronden.