If you are looking for guaranteed snow and a pristine wilderness venue for your winter sporting activities, then look no further than Enontekiö. We have the best – and the most – snow in Finland. The first snow tends to fall early in October and there is generally a permanent snow cover from the end of October through until the end of May. Snow cover is thickest in mid-March, when it may reach a depth of 90-100cm but altogether, winter lasts nearly 200 days!
Enontekiö has the lowest average temperatures in Finland and reindeer and humans are the main inhabitants of the region. Ony six bird species live here through the winter without human help. These include willow grouse and ptarmigan. Reindeer survive because of the oleic acid in their bone marrow which works as an anti-freeze.
You can enjoy the thrill of a unique winter experience in Lapland north of the Arctic Circle during the long twilight period when the Sun does not rise above the horizon. In the most northerly corners of Lapland, this twilight period can last for up to 51 days.
Winter usually begins in mid-October, at least a month earlier than in other parts of Finland, and it lasts up to 200 days. Temperatures can fall as low as -50°C and Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis dance here regularly.
The Ounastunturi, Pallastunturi and Yllästunturi Fells together have about 500 km of marked skiing trails although a few of those in the first two areas are not maintained by machines.
The winter tourist season and the maintenance of trails begins in Ylläs as soon as the first snow falls, in Ounastunturi Fells when there is a sufficient amount of snow and in the Pallastunturi Fells in early February. Before this, skiers can enjoy the silence and darkness of winter while breaking their own tracks.
Read more from Hetta ski centre's website or check out the ski map below.
There are no maintained skiing trails in the wilderness areas although the snowmobile routes tend to be fairly well utilised (so long as you don't happen to go just after a lot of fresh snow). Find out more from our skiing page.
There are a few ski centres in northern Finland and although they do not compare to slopes in the Alps there is certainly enough to entertain even the most proficient skiier for a day. The three main ski centres that you will have access to from a base in Enontekiö are Hetta, Levi and Ylläs.
Find out more from our skiing page.
Enontekiö is one of the favourite snowmobile destinations for Norwegians - and they have the whole of Scandinavia to choose from! The snowmobile is a great way to travel when you need to get around swiftly. Go on your own, or travel with a local guide.
From the Hetta Area it is possible to snowmobile in various directions along snowmobile routes. The easiest way to set off on a route is to go to Lake Ounasjärvi and to join the long track that traverses the lake from east to west. At the western end you can connect to the Victoria route which leads, via Palojoensuu, to the western Enontekiö trails and, ultimately, to Kilpisjärvi. To the east, you can continue on via trials to Kittilä via Vuontisjärvi, Peltovuoma and Nunnanen or turn just before Vuontisjärvi towards Raattama.
You can also turn off the lake near the village of Hetta to southern tracks which lead to Pyhäkero open wilderness hut and ultimately to Muonio. If you choose to go north there are two different track options which connect at Lake Palojärvi. From there, there are trails which cross the tundra towards Kilpisjärvi and others which go north to Kautokeino and Norway.
If you snowmobile along snowmobile tracks around Hetta Area or on the Victoria route, no permit is needed. However, snowmobiling is not permitted within the boundaries of the National Park and visitors planning to snowmobile from Hetta across the tundra and wilderness areas to Kilpisjärvi or Karasuando must purchase a Metsähallitus snowmobile permit from the Fell Lapland Nature Centre as the maintenance of the track between Palojärvi and Kilpisjärvi (by Metsähallitus) is funded by permits.
The Hetta-Kilpisjärvi snowmobile track runs through Tarvantovaara Wilderness Area and the Syväjärvi-Kaaresuvanto snowmobile track turns off of the Hetta-Kilpisjärvi one.
Enontekiö's tracks in the area are primarily maintained by the municipality of Enontekiö (www.enontekio.fi) but riding them is at your own risk. Snowmobiles can be rented in a number of places in Hetta, including via the ski centre, hotels, garages, etc.
When in Kilpisjärvi, you may visit the Three Nations’ Border Point via the Victoria Route, (ie for free) but you need to pay for a permit to snowmobile on other tracks in this area (www.eraluvat.fi, in Finnish) from Kilpisjärvi Visitor Centre and snowmobiling is forbidden in Malla Strict Nature Reserve.
If you want to simply hire your own snowmobile and venture forth without a guide, 'Joen Safaris', based just down the hill from Hotel Majatalo, are probably one of your best options. Be very very careful if you do this, however, that you do not venture at all off the designated trails since you will have no idea where the weak ice crossing rivers and lakes lies, underneath the soft cover of snow!
As with XC skiing, all the summer hiking trails are accessable (in one form or another) by snow-shoe during the winter but not all are maintained as winter trails, so - although their marker posts mean that you are unlikely to get lost - sections can have very deep snow (ie. you'll eitther need to use BIG snow-shoes or be prepared to work very hard).
In general it is considered bad practise to snow-shoe (or snowmobile) on the groomed ski tracks (as you will carve up the surface and ruin the molded classic-style ski tracks) which hard-core skiiers will find annoying. However in traditional Finnish style, even if people are anoyed they will probably frown on and about you but won't say anything to your face. But now you know that it isn't culturally appropriate!
The Kultima-Leppäjärvi Trail (25km)
The easiest place to set off on the Kultima-Leppäjärvi Trail is along a sandy road from the village of Kultima. The trail is a good day-trip route and leads through mainly lichen filled dry forest, but there are damper sections on it without maintained duckboards. The last 5 km of the trail from the River Palojoki to the village of Leppäjärvi is a dirt track and there are privately-owned cottages along it. The trail is also suitable for mountain biking.
Sights: At the trail's halfway point you can turn off the route and go 1 km north off the trail to Lake Pahtajärvi (a popular lake name in this area for any lakes bounded by steep faces). The lake is clear and surrounded by cliffs.
The Kaaresuvanto-Lavivaara - Syväjärvi Trail (20km)
This trail has its starting point at the village of Kaaresuvanto and it leads to Lake Syväjärvi via Lavivaara Hill, at which point it changes from a gravel road to a dirt track. The trail is marked with kilometre posts, as are all trails maintained by the Finnish Road Administration. The terrain is undemanding although it is a bit rocky at the Syväjärvi end. The trail is suitable for mountain biking.
Services: Syväjärvi open wilderness hut.
The Palojärvi-Salvasjärvi Trail (20km)
This is an old postal track which is maintained by the Finnish Road Administration and is still regularly used by locals. This trail, which is clearly visible in the terrain, runs from the north side of the village of Palojärvi to reindeer herders' summer cabins at Lake Salvasjärvi. It has kilometre signs marking sections of it but you should still take a map and a compass with you into this area to make sure that you don't get lost.
The track crosses over into Norway at one point, so you should technically have your passport with you. When approaching Lake Salvasjärvi the trail starts to ascend onto the tundra plateau landscape. The trail's end point is on the east side of Lake Salvasjärvi at Salvasjärvi open wilderness hut. The reindeer herders' summer cabins are to the south of Lake Salvasjärvi. The trail is also suitable for mountain biking, but it is demanding as there are great changes in altitude and vast mires.
Services: Salvasjärvi open wilderness hut