If you go out onto the viewpoint on the outer edge of the canyon, the sensation of excitement and nervousness in your stomach will remind you how far it is to the bottom as you admire the incredible panoramic views!
After being picked up at the hotel, we will drive about half an hour south to Beskades, where the hike begins. After starting eastwards, we will later turn more southwards. We will walk above the treeline so it’s quite exposed to wind and precipitation. On a fine summer’s day, the only thing that may be a bit annoying are the mosquitos. However, once we have sprayed on some insect repellent, we can walk in peace!
The Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau rolls gently southwards on both sides of the canyon. Reindeer have grazed in these areas since time immemorial. Other animals to roam here include the brown bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine. The canyon is a breeding area for several birds of prey, so it’s not unusual to hear the mournful cry of the rough-legged buzzard or another species.
At the bottom of the canyon, the mighty Alta river meanders towards the sea. The river is renowned as one of the best for salmon fishing in the world. If we are lucky, we will catch a glimpse of a traditional riverboat with anglers on board. If we get out our binoculars, perhaps we can if the lines are tight!
The combined distance of this hike is about 13 km. We follow relatively good paths most of the way, with the surface varying between marshland, rock bed and some short stony sections.
On this hike, we recommend good mid-cut mountain boots. We need to cross some rivers along the way and the water level depends on the season and rainfall. Perhaps you will experience the joy of wading across a river with an extremely refreshing water temperature or jumping from rock to rock. In dry and fine weather, sold off-road running shoes or approach shoes are suitable. However, don’t be surprised if your feet get wet.
NOK 1,500 per person, including transport, guide, packed lunch and coffee.
Minimum 2 people
Price for four people or more: NOK 1,200 per person
Approx. 5.5 hours
Pick-up 10am, return approx. 3.30pm
Pick-up at Scandic Hotel in downtown Alta and Altafjord Gjestegaard og Spa in Bossekop
This tour is available every day
We recommend suitable clothing for a day hike in the mountains.
Woollen top, thin insulation garment, wind/waterproof jacket and thick insultation (down jacket/vest, sweater/fleece) for the break
Casual trousers, possibly also long underpants, or even shorts (depending on the temperature and season)
Light hiking boots or solid off-road running shoes
Hat and gloves/mittens
Small backpack (available for hire)
Walking poles (if you are used to using these)
The Alta Canyon is regarded as Northern Europe’s largest canyon. This massive canyon cuts more than 400 metres down into the Finnmarksvidda mountain plateau and stretches 7.5 km south/southeast. The view from our vantage point is formidable and well worth the effort! At the bottom of the canyon, we can see the mighty Alta river meandering towards the sea.
If we are lucky, we can see eagles or other birds of prey floating on thermal air currents in an endless search for prey. The Alta Canyon is a breeding area for several rare birds of prey, including the golden eagle, rough-legged buzzard and several species of falcon.
The canyon has a rich animal life and species such as foxes and hares are common sights, while f and lynxes often wander past. Even the moose finds it a pleasant place to be!
We may spot a long, narrow Alta riverboat on the river. You will see one man sitting at the front rowing and keeping the boat steady in the current while a fisherman sits at the back of the boat with his rod seeing if the fish are biting. Strict rules apply for fishing here and after Midsummer only fly fishing is permitted.
The Alta river is considered the best river in the world for catching Atlantic salmon. Nowhere on earth are the chances higher of landing a big salmon weighing 10 kg or more!
Culture and identity
In many ways, the Alta river is the nerve of the Alta community. Many Alta families have close bonds with the river, which is popular for fishing and recreation by riverboat. The annual licence draw for salmon fishing in the Alta river attracts thousands of angling enthusiasts. Only about 800 each year get a fishing licence. The remainder most pin their hopes on accompanying a family member or friend.
Fishing in the river is considered extremely lucrative, including in former times when the fishing rights were leased to overseas interests. Illegal fishing by the local was widespread. Some claim the fish swam up the Alta river and down the Tverrelv valley where the most common poaching route was.
Hydroelectric power development
After major demonstrations, the Alta river was dammed in the 1980s and the hydroelectric power station opened in 1987.
The dam is about 10 km south of our vantage point, but the terrain hides it from view. Owing to strict licencing conditions, apart from the road up from Stilla in Tverrelv valley and the dam itself, we can see few traces of the massive development.
Even though the State imposed strict conditions on the developers, the Alta salmon (particularly the breed in the upper reaches of the river) has suffered. Tenacious efforts are being made to remedy this.