A journey through the area where one of Europe’s largest and most unique moose migrations take place every year. Elgland extends from Kittilbu Utmarksmuseum in the south through Espedalen to Skåbu and to Glittersjå in Murudalen.
Travelling through Espedalen is a beautiful journey in a lush cultural landscape, ranging from lowlands with picturesque farms to vast open mountain plateaus. This is where the moose roam, and the chances of meeting this king of the forest are good. There are numerous cultural experiences to be enjoyed along the route, such as herb gardens, the potholes "Helvete", nickel mines, horseback riding and local beer from Norway's only mountain brewery. Espedalen has retained its natural character, and is often referred to as our "friendly wilderness". The natural attractions are many, and the valley is the gateway to Jotunheimen from the east. It is the perfect starting point for hikes, and is ideal for less experienced walkers and others who prefer gentle mountain terrain. At the bottom of the valley you will find Espedalsvatnet, a 13 km long lake. Espedalen's cultural landscape is where nature and culture meet, and visitors can explore settlements from the Stone Age to more recent times, exciting historic sites and how traditions came to be. Animal pits, iron ore mining, smallholdings and the remains of old roads through the valley are all part of the cultural history of the area.
The route from Lillehammer to Skåbu through Espedalen is 88 km long, or 1 hour and 35 min. by car.
From Lillehammer, follow E6 north to the turn-off to Skei/Fåberg/Jørstadmoen. Continue along Gausdalsvegen through Follebu and Gausdal to Segalstad bridge, and then follow Vestringsvegen (route 225) towards Espedalen. The road leads through narrow valleys in a cultural landscape with beautiful small villages and hamlets, and then becomes Espedalsvegen which gradually climbs to a stunning mountain scenery at approx. 900 m a.s.l. At Dalseter and Ruten, the road's highest point, you can enjoy panoramic views of Jotunheimen and Rondane National Park.
From here, you can either follow the Peer Gynt route across the mountain to Gålå and Skei, or continue along route 255 to Skåbu – one of Norway's highest villages, with historic architecture and fields clinging to the mountain sides.
Attractions along the route
To learn more about the development of the cultural landscape, we recommend a small detour to Kittilbu Utmarksmuseum. This museum provides an insight into how the natural resources in the area have been used ever since the Stone Age, and has interesting exhibitions and a small café serving local, organic treats. Kittilbu Utmarksmuseum also operates as a visitor centre for Langsua National Park. To get to Kittilbu, leave route 255 and follow route 204 towards Forset for approx. 12 km.
As you approach Espedalen, you will reach Helvete Nature Park – home to Northern Europe's largest potholes. These amazing formations date back to the end of the last Ice Age, and their name Helvete translates as Hell. In the park, you will find cultural activities, grazing animals and basic catering.
Accommodation with fantastic views
At the top of the Espedalen valley, you will find accommodation at Dalseter Høyfjellshotell and Ruten Fjellstue – both with panoramic views of the spectacular Jotunheimen. Dalseter is a family-run hotel where the 3rd generation hosts welcome their guests to an enjoyable and relaxing mountain experience at 900 m a.s.l. Treks on Icelandic horses are available. Close to Dalseter, there is an elk trail through Espedalen where an observation tower is being built and will offer accommodation from summer 2016.
Next to Dalseter is Ruten Fjellstue – a genuine Norwegian mountain lodge steeped in history. This has been a popular venue for accommodation, functions and gatherings for 70 years, and its hosts pride themselves on good food, a traditional setting and a friendly atmosphere. Ruten Fjellstue brews its own beer at Norway's only mountain brewery.
Are you looking to experience a spectacular and unusual outdoor adventure? Next to Dalseter and Ruten you will find a NEW 12-metre high moose observation tower where you have a good chance of spotting the king of the forest.
From the top of Ruten, you can see some of Jotunheimen's mountain peaks towering at over 2000 m. A stunning scenery, ideal for hikes.
From Ruten and Dalseter you can continue along route 255 to Skåbu where you can visit Skåbutunet with its two farmyards comprising 30 old buildings – of which the oldest date back to the 1700s. Alternatively, you can follow the Peer Gynt route across the mountain to Gålå and Vinstra and then continue your journey either north along the E6 towards Trondheim or west towards Western Norway and its fjords. To return to Lillehammer, follow the E6 south through Gudbrandsdalen.