Gutulia is Norway’s smallest national park, and also one of the oldest. Despite its size, it accommodates great diversity. The upper part of Gutulivola mountain is above the treeline, while its hillsides are characterized by open pine forests and old spruce forests. In contrast to these untouched forests is Gutulisetra – the mountain pastures that have been looked after by people and cattle ever since the 1750s. Mountain farmhouses, piles of stones and pastures have created a landscape of great historical value.
The trail into the national park from the approach next to Gutulisjøen lake and the nature and adventure trail are the only waymarked trails in the national park. Therefore, you must find your own route, where you might get the feeling of being a bit lost.
Why a national park?
The national park was protected in 1968 and covers an area of 23 km².
Old forests are becoming rarer in Norway, but the trees in Gutulia have been left in peace. There are three mountain pastures at Gutulisetra that are protected as cultural monuments, and haymaking continues there in order to safeguard the landscape. Many animals and plants are associated with grazing and mountain farming.
Plant and animal life
From the ancient and untouched spruce forests at Gutulia, to the vast marshes and colorful pastures, visitors can find many different types plants. Here, visitors will find different types of witch’s hair lichen hanging from the spruce trees, rare species from eastern regions and small pastoral plants.
In the forest, under your feet, there is a completely separate world: an underground network.
The landscape in the national park is characterized by undulating terrain and long, gentle lines. At a height of 949 masl, Gutulivola mountain is located in the middle of the national park and towers over the landscape.
From Gutulivola mountain, the national park’s second highest peak, Baklivola, can be seen against the backdrop of Femundsmarka’s high mountains in the north. Between the peaks, visitors can experience a beautiful valley with open patches of marshland. The valley stretches all the way towards Valsjøen lake. The old forest is extraordinarily rich to be located in this part of the country.
On a national scale, reindeer husbandry is a small industry, but all of Gutulia is used for grazing domesticated reindeer. This area is home to the southernmost Sámi settlement that continues to practice reindeer husbandry as a livelihood.
Groups of reindeer owners herd the reindeer into common flocks in specific areas and work together on managing the reindeer. These groups are called Sijte in the Southern Sámi language. Today, Svahken sijte is the Sámi reindeer grazing district that has grazing areas in Gutulia. Lassoes and dogs are still important work tools for reindeer herders, in addition to modern technical aids.
Show consideration if you encounter reindeer
Domesticated reindeer are not particularly shy, and mountain hikers often get the chance to meet these beautiful animals in the mountains. However, the reindeer need peace and quiet to graze, so show consideration and do not disturb the animals unnecessarily. This is particularly important during the calving season, when reindeer are very vulnerable. Remember to keep your dog on a leash, and do not follow the animals.
For many years, the areas east of Femunden were only used for hunting and fishing. The Sámi have used the area for reindeer grazing since the 17th century.
From 1750 to 1949, there were three mountain farms in operation at Gutulisetra. Every summer, the people from the farms at Lillebo and Sorken brought their animals here to graze. From 1975 to 1983, the 16 farm buildings were restored using old craftsmanship traditions. ‘Ostebua’ at Oppåvollen is an open cabin where visitors can take a break. At Nedpåvollen, visitors can enjoy a cup of coffee and some waffles. Here, visitors can really experience the atmosphere of an old mountain lodge.
Central Sámi area
The Sámi people have herded their domesticated reindeer for centuries. Before reindeer husbandry, they survived by hunting, trapping, gathering and fishing. The Sámi people have traditions and beliefs associated with places in the national park, often without having left any physical traces in the landscape.