Oulanka National Park

– a river runs through it

Established in 1956, Oulanka National Park is among the most popular hiking destinations in Finland – whether you choose a short day trip or a few days' hike. It’s good reputation is based on diverse landscapes and the magic of the Karhunkierros trail, an 80-kilometer route that presents the best parts of the park from north to south. Oulanka National Park should not be presented without it’s sister park just beyond the border of EU: together, Oulanka and Paanajärvi National Parks constitute a jewel of boreal taiga in the necklace of the Fennoscandian Green Belt.

Oulanka is located at the southern gate to Lapland. Therefore, northern elements are obvious in its nature. Oulanka is an outstanding center of biodiversity when compared to its surroundings – especially plant life flourishes with more than 500 species of vascular plants. Thanks to it’s calcium-rich soil, rugged topography and varying microclimatic conditions, the park harbours a large number of both northern and southern species. In Oulanka, several plant species that are rare or even absent elsewhere in Finland, are present. Animals are presented by typical taiga species – for instance, the tracks of brown bear, wolf, wolverine and lynx can be seen.

The river runs untamed
Oulanka River is one of the few large rivers in Finland still found unregulated. It connects Oulanka and Paanajärvi and acts a migration route and spawning ground for brown trout. The river is also an easy and beginner-friendly destination for canoeing. Along the riverside, there are meadows here and there, all bearing witnss of the long history of hay-making. Further away, the Karhunkierros trail lingers its way through coniferous forests. As teasers, there are several short day-trip trails to experience.    

Experience nature and culture
Two visitor centres are at the service of visitors. Biodiversity and the objectives of nature protection have always been the main issues in nature interpretation, but lately cultural aspects and the presence of humans in the wilderness have also been given more emphasis. The oldest settlement known in the park dates back to the Stone Age. Coincidence or not, but it was located at Kiutaköngäs rapids, which today is one of “must see -sites” of the park.

Hike the wild - sleep in comfort
Part of the popularity of Oulanka arises from high-quality services in and outside the park. Today’s hiker often prefers to sleep between the sheets and enjoy tasty meals after day’s adventures. These facilities are found in the vicinity of the park, especially in the holiday resort Ruka. Also, help from professional guides that operate in the park and under the contract with park management, can create more value to hiking experience.

For more information, please visit our website

Oulanka National Park in brief
Established in 1956
Enlarged in 1982 and 1989
Area 270 km2
Located in the provinces of Oulu and Lapland, North Ostrobothnia Region and in the municipalities of Kuusamo and Salla.
The national park is managed by Metsähallitus.




Title by Photographer