Oulanka National Park (Oulangan kansallispuisto)

Oulanka National Park


Location: Lapland/ Northern Ostrobothnia     Map

Area: 270 km²

Official site


Description of Oulanka National Park

Oulanka National Park is situated in Lapland and Northern Ostrobothnia regions of Finland on the border with Russia. The area of the nature reserve covers 270 km². Oulanka National Park is one of the most visited nature parks in the country. Many tourists take Karhunkierros Hiking Trail (Bear's Ring) that take hikers on a 80 km trek that usually takes three to four days through untouched pine forests, picturesque gorges, lakes, streams and swamps of the North Europe. You can start at the Hautajärvi Visitor Centre or the Ristikallio parking area. The path will take you to the village of Ruka that is situated 25 km North of Kuusamo. The best time to visit Oulanka National Park is in winter and warm summer months when numerous birds come here to nest. Their main food source, many species of butterflies also begin to appear around the middle of the summer. Herds of reindeer roam this untouched land as they did for centuries.


Oulanka National Park was established in 1956, after which it was expanded twice in 1982 and 1989. However, the area has been known for its beauty since the late 19th century, when it was a popular destination for artists and naturalists. The official designation of the national park could be expected first because of World War II and then because of the large division. The appointment was also slowed down by the Kuusamo rapids war in the mid-20th century.

In 2002, Oulanka received the WWF's PAN Parks certificate, which was a recognition of the excellent combination of nature conservation and growing nature tourism.

Geography and nature
The landscape of Oulanka is formed by old pine forests, meandering river valleys with sand dunes and rapids, as well as steep-walled rock gorges and large bogs in the northern part of the park. The highest hazards in the area are located at an altitude of 380 meters, while at their lowest Oulanka descends at the level of 151 meters in river valleys. Oulanka is crossed by two large rivers flowing to the east, the Oulanka and Kitkajoki rivers. The meandering Oulankajoki forms the basis of the national park.

The fauna is rich in endangered plant and animal species. For example, the maiden shoe that appears as a symbol of the park is an endangered species, but common in the national park. Other nationally endangered species in Oulanka include bottom hat and dart container.

Oulanka is one of the most popular national parks in Finland: you can do several days of hiking there as well as a few hours of sightseeing. Kiutaköngäs, for example, is a 100-meter-long rapids located less than a kilometer from the Oulanka Nature Center. Oulanka has several day hiking trails: the charm of Hiide 5 km, the Könkää resort 8 km, the Rytisuo nature trail 5 km, the canyon peek 6 km and the Little Bear Tour 12 km. The barrier-free trail is a 150-meter-long trail covered with stone ash below Kiutakönkä, north of the Oulanka River, which is suitable for all hikers. Its starting point is an unobstructed toilet.

Finland's most famous hiking trail, Karhunkierros, is located in the Oulanka National Park.