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River Vindelälv

The River Vindelälv was proclaimed a National River in 1993.

The River Vindelälv runs through Vindelfjällen in a varied course of lakes, pools and rapids. The river runs mainly through the boreal forest region, except at its source, which lies in mountain terrain and birch forest. The vegetation along the river is varied and rich; nearly 400 species of vascular plant have been found. The fauna is also rich. The river is a well-used bird migration route, and home to many breeding birds. The river is also an important herding route for reindeer husbandry.



This has been the site of a Sámi chapel since the end of the 1600s, and is the oldest in the county, with a graveyard, peat huts and outbuildings. Gillesnuole lies beside the lake of Storvindeln, downstream from Ammarnäs. The site has long been a meeting place for Ran and Gran Sámi communities. The river was a natural transport route, with boat travel possible from here to Sorsele. The present chapel was built in 1796-1798. It was moved and used as a threshing barn when the chapel in Ammarnäs was built in 1858. It was later returned restored and inaugurated in 1940. Sermons are held here in summer.

Habitat type: mossy coniferous forest



Lake Storvindeln
Storvindeln lies on the border of Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, and, at 50 km in length, is the largest lake along the River Vindelälv. The lake is narrow, fjord-like, and the waterline can vary by up to five metres. This variation is natural, and could previously be observed in other lakes along the county’s rivers. These today are now regulated for hydro-electric power. Thus, Storvindeln is unique, and its shores are among the most species-rich environments in Sweden. The lake also contains a species of whitefish, Coregonus peled, found nowhere else in Sweden. A high rocky cliff lines the south-western edge of the lake. This hard cliff consists of sparagmite, a mineral also found along the River Tjulå.

Habitat type: lakeshore vegetation showing zonation



Southwest from the road up to the Höbacken reindeer slaughterhouse is the large hill Ågguovarrie. From here you get a wonderful view over the river valley, while the viewpoint itself is surrounded by interesting old pine forest. At some point in time, several hundred years ago, the summer was so warm that pine seeds began to grow on this slope. The knotted pines now stand at the tree-line.

Habitat type: pine forest with shrubs



On Mount Björkfjäll, the Kungsleden Trail crosses over the stream Lisvuojuhka. The area around the bridge is pleasant, and you can walk downstream towards the river valley. Drooping saxifrage grows just after the bridge. At the tree-line, the stream flows down dramatically into a ravine. There is no path here, so the going can be tough.

Habitat type: mossy coniferous forest, meadow birch forest, waterfall, mesic shrub heath, dry fen



This stream flows over a small but impressive waterfall. The path to the Guolets Fall goes upstream through a pretty pine forest. After the waterfall it is possible to continue upstream, to a deep canyon. The stream divides in two, into a forked ravine. If you continue further upstream, you will reach the Kungsleden Trail to the north.

Habitat type: mossy coniferous forest, meadow birch forest, waterfall, mesic shrub heath, dry shrub heath, dry fen



Bark harvests
Near Aitenjas, the hiking trail passes up to Guoletsbäcken and the Kungsleden Trail. There is a pine forest on the south-facing slope that contains traces of bark harvesting. The cultural history of the area has been well-documented in a dissertation by Ulrika Jansson. The bark was harvested here by Sámi people during the 1700s and 1800s.

Habitat type: pine forest with shrubs



Plants thrive beneath steep, sheltering cliffs, as do people and livestock, who also choose these sheltered sites. Aitenjas is one of these places, as are Örnbo and Fårkammern in Ammarnäs. Plants that prefer milder climates grow here, like redcurrant and raspberry. In 1885, Anders Sjulsson settled here. His family owned goats and a cow, and cultivated potatoes. Later, David Forsvall and Nils Johan Strömgren mowed the meadows of Aitenjas. People moved here in the summer, bringing their livestock with them, because the grazing and hay were good. The hay was transported home in winter using horses. The cabins here are private: please respect this. A cabin open to the public is situated at Rävfallet, 1 km north of Aitenjas.

Habitat type: alluvial meadows



Rävfallet is the site of the most extensive rapids in the River Vindelälv, upstream from Ammarnäs. The Kungsleden Trail north of Ammarnäs passes over a suspension bridge which carries hikers over these rapids. There is an overnight cabin here, with a wood-fired sauna at the shore. The cabin and sauna are owned by the County Administration in Västerbotten.


Coordinat: RT 90 X 1514300 Y 7332900

Coordinat: SWEREF N 7331004 E 550595


Safety space: The kitchen is open.


Cabin: 18 beds in 4 rooms. All kitchenequipment. 12v lightbulb run by solarpower. Room to dry clothes. Bring matches and candles with you! The visitors shall clean the cabin after use.


For mountain security all new guests are welcome


Sauna: Vindelfjällens most beautiful sauna! En logged sauna by the river 100 meters downstream Rävfallet.


Mainatainance: The county administrative boards rangers.  Cleaning is done by Destination Ammarnäs.


Day tour:Walk to Aijtenjas and enjoy the cultural lands by river Vindelälven. Or visit the primeval pineforest north of Vuornavagge. Here you can see lappmes och lavskrika and 300-years old pines! Rävfallet is a good base from which you can embark on a day-trip up along the valley to Vitnjul and the high waterfall on Skrabmiejuhka, or alternatively cross over the river and go up to the heights around Ruepsgájssie. Downstream, between Rävfallet and Aitenjas, you can see granite rocks that have been worn smooth by the river.

Habitat type: mossy birch heath, waterfall



Vitnjul and the cabin Vitnjul west
The first cabin and a stable were built at Vitnjul in 1893. This was used as an overnight cabin for Ammarnäs residents on the trade route to Norway. The stable was renovated in 1978, but the cabin was pulled down in the 1960s, when the present cabin was built. The western cabin is open to hikers, and contains four beds in one room. The cabin is owned and run by the County Administration in Västerbotten (contact the natural resource unit or field unit there if you have any queries).


Vitnjul east

Was built up during 2011-12 where the old Vitnjul cabin stod. 



Coordinat: RT 90: X 15092 Y 73389

Coordinat: SWEREF N 7337 E 5454


Safty space: The hallway is open.


Cabin: 6 beds and one sleeping deck. The kitchen is well equipped. Fire stove only.


Maintainance: County administrative board of Västerbotten. Cleaning: Destination Ammarnäs.

The visitors shall clean the cabin after use, do the dishes and make firewood. The firewood is a matter of mountain security especially during winter. 


Day tours: A bridge beside the cabin crosses the River Vindelälv, and from there you can hike up to the summits of Slieruotjåhkka and Ruepsgájssie. The bedrock in the area is very alkaline, favouring an interesting flora, including thriving stands of Arctic bluegrass Poa artica. Lapland rosebay, Rhododendron lapponicum grows on the slopes of Vignjaltjåhkka, behind the Vitnjul cabin.

Habitat type: mossy birch heath, meadow birch forest

Birds: golden eagle, white-tailed eagle, rough-legged buzzard, willow grouse etc. An interesting early spring bird migration occurs through Vindelådalen, the River Vindelälv’s valley upstream from Ammarnäs. Early sightings of e.g. robin and pied wagtail are frequently recorded. This migration passes from west to east, i.e. from Norway to Sweden.



Below Framakselet, the River Vindelälv becomes narrow and deep beneath the steep cliffs of Framaktjåkke. Framakselet is perhaps the most impressive and dramatic part of the river valley. The area is rich in game, and this is where Stig Wesslén filmed brown bear for the first time in the wild at the end of the 1930s.

Habitat type: wet fen, mossy birch heath



Lies in birchforest above Framakselet along the Vindleälven river. The place wher the cabin stand has long been used as a restingplace. Therfore a cabin was built here during 2011-12. 


Coordinat: X 1509 Y 7338

Coordinat: SWEREF N 7337 E 5457


Safety space: The hallway is open.


Maintainance: The county administrative board of Västerbotten takes care of the Mankeforscabin along with  Destination Ammarnäs. At least once a year the cabin is cleaned thouroughly. All guests shall clean, do thiere dishes, refill fire wood and make theyre beds.



As at Vitnjul, there used to be an overnight cabin and a stable here for traders travelling to and from Norway. The cabin was built in 1893, but burnt down in the 1960s. There is now a two-storey cabin with 14 beds


Coordinat: RT 90 X 1493050 Y 7343300

Coordinat: SWEREF N 7341060 E 529294


Safety space: The attic is open.



For mountain security all new guests are welcome.





Maintainance: County administrative board of Västerbotten fills up firewood and cleans at least once a year.  All guests shall; clean, do the dishes, fill up with firewood and make there beds.

The cabin is locked. The cabin is owned and run by the County Administration in Västerbotten (contact the natural resource unit or field unit there if you have any queries).


Daytours: There are the remains of old Sámi dwellings above Dalavardo, and these are marked on the map. Further along the trail there is a bridge over Varenodjukke Stream. There are several early ‘Stalo dwellings’ along this stream.

Habitat type: mossy birch heath



Near the Norwegian border, at the heart of the mountains, the River Vindelälv bends sharply to the north-east. Vindelkroken, a summer residence of Gran Sámi community, lies at this bend in the river. The cabins and huts here are private, and not open to the public. The Norwegian border is 2.5 km from here. This area contains the largest palsa mire in Vindelfjällen, situated to the south of the river. Palsas are mounds of permantly frozen peat.

Habitat type: wet fen, willow scrub, mesic shrub heath, meagre shrub heath


Photo: Lasse Strömgren








Vitnjul east













Vitnjul east







View from Ågguovarrie into the Vindelåvalley at the end of September Photo:Andreas Karlsson







The old Pineforest at Guoletsbäcken. Photo:Andreas Karlsson