Published 14.2.2022

Salla – a new national park in Finland

The arrival of the New Year 2022 brought with it Salla, a brand new national park for Finland. The unique nature of Salla’s old-growth forests complements Finland’s extensive national park network.

The other 40 Finnish national parks are located across the entire country from the archipelago on the south coast to the arctic fells of Lapland in the far north. Salla is located in the south-eastern part of Lapland on the Russian border.

The stunning scenery and diverse nature including old-growth forests, ridges, mires, and fells that stretch across the border into Russia as far as the eye can see will lure visitors. They can experience the wilderness feeling even during a short day trip on the easily accessible marked trails in the national park. They can enjoy this unique landscape all year round by hiking, skiing, or even snowshoeing.

A person standing on wooden stairs along a stony hillside and photographing a view to forests and fell tops in autumn.
Stairs to the top of a fell in Salla National Park. Photo: Anna Pakkanen.

– The new national park is right next to the Sallatunturi tourist centre and close to the village of Salla. On the way to Salla through eastern Lapland, visitors can also take advantage of the comprehensive services on offer including restaurants, a local museum, and the Metsähallitus Visitor Centre. With the new status as a national park, the number of services in the surrounding area will also increase in the next few years, says National Park Superintendent Hely Juntunen.

Besides its unspoiled nature, Salla also offers spectacular sky gazing. Thanks to its isolation and lack of light pollution, visitors can gaze upon the Milky Way in all its splendour and be amazed at the dazzling Northern Lights from autumn to spring. In summer they can experience the equally amazing midnight sun when it doesn’t get dark at all for several weeks.

A comprehensive network of trails and rest spots already exists in the national park, but work will soon begin to further develop trails and shelters. A new wilderness hut is also in the future plans.

Experience several natural attractions on the same trip

Nearby Salla National Park there are other national parks and hiking areas that visitors can enjoy. It’s a great opportunity to experience more of Finland’s outstanding natural features.

Thanks to excellent infrastructure and services, it’s generally very safe to move around Finland and Lapland. It’s possible to make day trips from Salla by car to three other nearby national parks. Nature enthusiasts should explore the unique wild-river nature of Oulanka National Park, the impressive gorges of Pyhä–Luosto National Park, and the famous spruce forests of Riisitunturi National Park which in winter are totally covered in rime ice and crown snow.
Major airports in Rovaniemi and Kuusamo have regular connections to Helsinki. Salla is just a couple hours’ drive from these airports which both offer car rentals. Visitors can also arrive by night train and bus from Helsinki.

National Parks in Finland

The 41 national parks of Finland are large nature reserves of a thousand hectares or more each. The primary function of the parks is to safeguard biodiversity while also offering visitors the opportunity to relax and enjoy nature. The parks have marked hiking trails, nature trails, and campfire sites. Visitors can also overnight in designated campsites or in shelters and huts. The vast areas of the national parks are mostly uninhabited. Roads for motor vehicles are prohibited. Visitors must make their way through the parks primarily on foot.

The national park system of Finland was modelled on the National Park Service of the United States where the world’s first national park was established in 1872. The parks are meant to be rugged and natural and include the best examples of Finland’s national landscapes. Like the national parks in the US, Finland’s national parks offer services like marked trails and rest areas to support hiking and other outdoor activities.

The Parks & Wildlife Finland Unit of Metsähallitus manages all the national parks throughout Finland and offers free basic services in the field, at customer service points, and online. Hiking and enjoying the great outdoors is an old tradition in Finland and is deeply rooted in the culture. Parks & Wildlife Finland continues this tradition into the future by offering state-funded services that allow people to enjoy nature and take advantage of the many health benefits of outdoor activities.

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