Gudbrandsdalen is a valley in Oppland. This grand, central valley runs for some 250 km from Lillehammer to the highlands and high central mountains. The valley hosted major events at the 1994 winter Olympics, alpine skiing venues at Kvitfjell and Hafjell are now popular winter sport resorts. The valley is home to a number of ancient wooden buildings (including stave churches) and other cultural heritage.
- Hafjell - ski resort (Olympic slalom)
- Kvitfjell - alpine ski resort (Olympic downhill)
- Nordseter - highland cross-country resort
- Notable adjacent valleys (tributaries) in Gudbrandsdalen district
- Ottadalen home of Otta river
- Heidal and Sjodal home of the Sjoa river
- Vinstra river valley
- Frydalen home of Frya river
- Gausdal and Espedal
Gudbrandsdalen stretches from Lillehammer at the northern shores of Lake Mjøsa to the higlands around Dombås and county border with Møre og Romsdal, about 250 km. At the watershed there is in fact a lake, Lesjaskogsvatnet at Lesjaskog, that is shared by Lågen river (flowing east) and Rauma river (flowing west to Åndalsnes). Gudbrandsdalen is home to the great Lågen river. The Gudbrandsdalen district also includes several connected valleys and their tributaries (notably Ottdalen with Otta river, as well as Gausa, Sjoa and Vinstra rivers), large parts of Oppland county falls within this area. These tributaries are among Norway's prettiest and wildest rivers. Many of these rivers, particularly from the west (the right) carry glacial melt water, as can be seen on the opaque color.
The valley is surrounded by major mountain ranges such as Jotunheimen, Reinheimen, Dovrefjell and Rondane. At Otta the main valley is joined by the major Otta valley that also holds the road to Stryn and Geiranger.
Because of its central position in the interior of South Norway, Gudbrandsdalen hosts E6 (the main north-south road with branch to Åndalsnes and Ålesund) and the Oslo-Trondheim railway (with arm to Åndalsnes). About 70,000 people live in the area, the regional centre Lillehammer is home to about half the population.
Gudbrandsdalen district sits in the rain shadow and is one of the driest areas in Norway. The climate is continental: winters are cold and summers are mild. Bjorli, the most north-western village, receives heavy snowfall and is a popular winter resort.
During the invasion of Norway in April 1940, some of the heaviest fighting occurred in Gudbrandsdalen around village Kvam. British troops had landed at Åndalsnes to support the Norwegian Army. In addition to the sea battle at Narvik, this was the first engagement of Allied and German troops during the war (a few weeks later fighting began in France and Be-Ne-Lux). There is a war memorial at Kvam. The first US casualty in world war II was the US military attache killed during the bombing of Dombås station. There is a war memorial at Dombås. The King, cabinet and Bank of Norway's gold and cash holdings were evacuated through Gudbrandsdalen towards Åndalsnes and Molde amidst heavy fighting in a bold and legendary operation. The king and the cabinet were hiding in Gudbrandsdalen while waiting for safe passage to unoccupied harbors at Åndalsnes and Molde. This was one of the most dramatic and decisive events in the history of modern Norway.
Ironically, more than 300 years earlier Scottish mercenary troops landed at Åndalsnes and marched through Gudbrandsdalen to join the war in Sweden. Between Otta and Kvam the Scottish troops were slaughtered my local militia in a legendary ambush. This event is also included in the Kvam war memorial.
The language is Norwegian with some notable dialect differences, particularly in the northern valley. English is spoken everywhere.
- Oslo Airport, 140 km south of Lillehammer. A major international airport with flights from the USA and major European cities.
- Oslo-Trondheim railway (Dovrebanen) via Oslo airport at Gardermoen
- Dombås-Åndalsnes railway (Raumabanen)
- By rail
The Oslo-Lillehammer-Trondheim railway (Dovrebanen) runs along the valley until Dombås where the railway climbs onto the Dovrefjell plateau. The Dombås-Åndalsnes railway (Raumabanen) continues along the northernmost section of the valley (Lesja-Bjorli area). There is no railway in the Otta-Lom-Skjåk valley (Ottadalen).
- By car
For more details see: Driving in Norway
- Lillehammer-Dombås-Trondheim main road
- Otta-Lom-Stryn main road (also served by bus)
- County roads and private (toll) roads into the hinterland
- Kvam (war memorial). Heavy fighting during second world war.
- Ringebu Stave Church (Ringebu stavkyrkje), South of Ringebu village (Leave E6 at sign). One of the few remaining of Norway's once countless stave churches. Built around 1200 AD. 50 NOK (interior).
- Cross-country skiing in all mountain areas and close to towns.
- Downhill skiing near Lillehammer (Hafjell, Kvitfjell), and further afield at Skeikampen, Bjorli and Dombås:
- Hafjell ski resort, Øyer (E6 north of Lillehammer). Hafjell alpine skiing resort was a 1994 olympic venue. Summer activities too
- Rafting, Heidal, Sjoa river (Sjoa village and road 257). The Sjoa river is famous and used for rafting - either alone in kayak (only for the very experienced) or on large rafts. Caution: The river is treacherous, go with a guide and get first hand information. Several operators offer rafting.
- Rondane mountains
- Jotunheimen mountains
- Sogn og Fjordane: Luster, Stryn
- Møre og Romsdal: Åndalsnes and Geiranger
|Routes through Gudbrandsdalen|
|Maløy ← Stryn ←||W E||→ Otta (END)|
|Oslo ← Gardermoen ←||S N||→ Oppdal → Trondheim|
|Dombås (END) ←||E W||→ Åndalsnes → Ålesund|