Vildmarksvägen - the Wilderness Road of Sweden
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If you associate Sweden with crystal-clear lakes, endless forests and absolute silence, then the Vildmarksvägen will show you this country from a whole new perspective. Wild, rough and breathtakingly beautiful. Because snow-covered peaks and raging white water dominate the landscape here.
- Facts about the Wilderness Road: map, length and directions
- Sights along Vildmarksvägen
- Vildmarksvägen with the camper: pitches and road conditions
1. Facts about the Wilderness Road: map, length and directions
The Vildmarksvägen, also known as the Wilderness Road, is a mountain pass road that runs in a horseshoe shape from the E45 from Strömsund to the Norwegian border and back to the E45 to Vilhelmina. The closer you get to Norway, the higher the peaks tower. You even cross a high plateau, so the Vildmarksvägen is Sweden's highest paved road. Incidentally, due to the weather conditions, it is only open from June 15th to October 15th. On the route from Strömsund to Vilhelmina you cover around 360 kilometers, if you drive back south from Vilhelmina you drive a total of around 500 kilometers to Strömsund (see map Vildmarksvägen below). Therefore, the length specifications for the Wilderness Road also vary. We took two days for the route.
Wilderness Road: Europe's Last Wilderness?
Vildmarksvägen is often referred to as Europe's last wilderness. Know that nature can indeed deliver on that promise, but the Wilderness Road is also exceptionally accessible and accordingly heavily trafficked. So in short. You will definitely find wild nature here, loneliness less so. By the way, we drove the road in early July and found it perfectly fine. We rarely had a car in front of or behind us and only at the popular parking spaces did it get a little crowded at night. We couldn't spot overtourism, which is often talked about, but that can of course change significantly in late July/August.
Warning: mosquitoes along Vildmarksvägen
It shouldn't surprise you that mosquitoes will be your daily companions on Vildmarksvägen. We had already heard in advance how bad it should be and can only confirm it. So always have good protection with you when hiking and always wear long-sleeved clothing. Also, be prepared that you won't spend much time relaxing by the lake. By the way, there are fewer mosquitoes around the Stekenjokk. It was also bearable during our stay on the rocks around the whitewater at Trappstegsforsen.
2. Sights on the Wilderness Road
First of all, you have the opportunity to spot numerous animals on the Wilderness Road, such as moose, reindeer, beaver, golden eagle or arctic fox. By the way, here is not only the largest reindeer population, but also the greatest density of brown bears.
If you follow the Vildmarksvägen from south to north, you will first see many forests and long lakes. With every meter you get a little more Canada feeling. And soon, mountains with snow-capped peaks will tower up behind the endless forests. Even if Vildmarksvägen is described as a continuous paved road, there are still detours that you should definitely make. The road forks on the way to Gäddede, so that you cross a wild river on the left over a bridge and then continue on a gravel road on the opposite bank, parallel to Wildmarksvägen. And quite long, around 20 kilometers. Why? Because then you will find one of the most beautiful waterfalls: Den Hällingsåfallet.
Sweden's most beautiful waterfall: Hällingsåfallet
To be honest, I've rarely been so impressed. The waterfall falls into a deep gorge that is spectacularly beautiful on its own. The water rushes so hard that the air is full of foam. You can hike along both sides of the gorge and even stand over the waterfall on a bridge. It's a unique experience. We were at the Hällingsåfallet in the evening and even saw three mooses as we drove on.
Stekenjokk, the high plateau of Vildmarksvägen
After Gäddede and the Hällingsåfallet, the next popular destination is the Stekenjokk plateau. The landscape really changes dramatically on the drive here. You drive steadily uphill, the landscape becomes barren, coniferous trees become mountain birches, until you are finally above the tree line. The high plateau reminded me a lot of Iceland - also in terms of temperatures, by the way. Here you also have a particularly good chance of seeing herds of reindeer. There are always smaller parking lots from which you can walk a bit into the mountain landscape and even see a lot of ice and snow. But beware, please stay on the paths, the Stekenjokk is a sanctuary for wild animals and birds.
Rapids and wild nature - the way back to Vilhelmina
We already loved Vildmarksvägen at Stekenjokk, but it got even better. Because on the way back you drive past particularly beautiful river and lake landscapes. However, we were a bit disappointed by the Trappstegsforsen, a waterfall that falls down steps, as it flows directly past the road and does not want to create a real natural feeling here. But you can take a break a little further down the road at a small bay and from here walk along the rocks directly on the river bank. That was one of the nicest stops for us. By the way, another waterfall on Vildmarksvägen is the Gaustafallet, which you may have seen in the film Ronja's Robber Daughter.
Shortly before Vilhelmina you realize that you will soon be back in civilization. By the way: The region around Vildmarksvägen is not completely undeveloped. There are always villages, smaller hotels or individual houses.
3. Vildmarksvägen with the camper: pitches, tips and things to know
We drove over the Wilderness Road with our mini SUV and roof tent. Most of the roads were paved, only the route to the Hällingsåfallet waterfall is unpaved but still passable. This means that the road can be used with any vehicle - even with large campers, caravans and mobile homes. Of course also without all-wheel drive. The search for a parking space was also particularly uncomplicated. There are a large number of parking areas along Vildmarksvägen, many with fantastic views and some even with toilets (easily located on Park 4 Night.). There is enough space for campers of all sizes. And if you are traveling with a small vehicle and four-wheel drive, you can also try your luck off the beaten track. Just keep in mind that it's unlikely that you'll be relaxing by the lake along the Wilderness Road. The mosquito plague is really hellish here. As mentioned above, you have the fewest mosquitoes high up on the Stekenjokk. Next time we would stay there for that reason alone. In addition, you have a particularly good chance of observing herds of reindeer in the morning.
Our verdict on Vildmarksvägen
For us, the Vildmarksvägen is clearly one of the highlights of our trip to Sweden. Especially if you don't go further to Norway, the country shows itself from a very special, wild side that you shouldn't miss. But be prepared that you are not alone on the road. And by that we mean not only other travelers, but also numerous mosquitoes that cavort here.
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