Riisitunturi National Park is in the southern part of Finnish Lapland near Posio. The park covers an area of 77 km² and represents the fell and hill landscapes in Koillismaa. There are colourful hanging bogs on the slopes of the Riisitunturi Fell and scenery over the Lakes Kitkajärvet and the forest landscape of Posio. The snowy forests wintertime are worth seeing by themselves.
There is a trail network suitable for hiking trips lasting a couple of days.
Adjacent, towards Posio, is the protected mire area of Karitunturi and old-growth forest.
Visitors have to be able to take care of themselves, at least in the winter, as the area is remote and wilderness-like. The Noukavaara road is not ploughed in the winter and skiing tracks may sometimes be in poor condition. Do not expect to get quick help in emergencies. There are areas without phone coverage (try to climb higher).
Some experience in hiking (and skiing in the forest, if applicable) are required, as the terrain is quite difficult in some places. On the most popular trail, from the Riisitunturi parking to Riisitunturi and its wilderness hut (Riisin rääpäsy, 3 km, easy to intermediate, often walkable also in winter) and perhaps that also to Nuolivaara (Riisin rietas, 11 km, intermediate to demanding), you might cope without any special skills. Check forecasted weather though, and have an eye on possible changes. In winter, conditions may become harsh, especially if your trip doesn't end before sunset, which comes early in winter.
The park is popular especially in July–August, and in winter for photographing snow-covered trees and northern lights.
There is no official local visitor centre. The Oulanka visitor centre and Kuusamo customer service (50–60 km away by road) act as visitor centres, providing information, advice, maps etc.
- Oulanka Visitor Centre, Liikasenvaarantie 132 (in the middle of Oulanka National Park), ☏ , email@example.com. Visitor centre. Exhibitions. Child backpack carriers and snowshoes for rent. Lunch. Accessible by wheelchair. Free. Guided tours €50/group.
- Kuusamo Customer Service Karhuntassu, Torangintaival 2 (in Kuusamo), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Colocated with Hannu Hautala Nature Photography Centre. Accessible by wheelchair with an assistant. Free. The photography exhibitions have an entry fee.
The park was established in 1982.
The park is named after the fell Riisitunturi, rising above the treeline. Otherwise the landscape is mostly taiga forest, with several high hills, but there are some open mires. The best known features are the wintry landscapes, with thick coating of condensed frost on the trees, and the sloping bogs.
Flora and fauna
The park is in the inland close to the Arctic circle. Winters can be harsh indeed. Note also the short daylight hours in autumn and winter.
The main entrance to the park ("Riisitunturi") is about 30 km from the centre of Posio by road. There is a 3-km gravel road from the Posio–Tolva road, with the junction 3.5 km before Tolva. In winter there is a skiing track from Tolva to this entrance and to the Riisitunturi wilderness hut.
By foot, a jogging route can be used for the first 5 km from the centre, where the Riisitunturi Trail through the park starts (by the Kirintövaara resort), entering the park proper after 10 km more and reaching the Riisitunturi fell (near the main entrance) after a total of 28 km.
A road from Tolva passes through the far end of the park, between Noukavaara and Alimmainen Noukavaara, but as of 2023 it is in bad shape and driving along it is not recommended. The Riisitunturi trail ends by this road. There used to be a trailhead on the road also for the general-purpose winter route.
The nearest airport is in Kuusamo, about 54 km from the park, the nearest railway station in Kemijärvi, about 130 km from the park. The village Tolva is near Riisitunturi and is the starting point of a skiing trail into the park (6.5 km to the main entrance). There is a taxi in the village.
There are daily coach connections from Rovaniemi and Kuusamo to Posio, the latter driving along road 81 (Kuusamo-Posio-Rovaniemi), quite near the Kirintövaara starting point in the south end of the park.
The Posio–Suomutunturi–Rovaniemi snow mobile route passes by the western edge of the park. The Karitunturi Ahmatupa open wilderness hut near Karritunturi is by this route, 10 km from Posio.
Fees and permits
There are no entry or hiking fees. Using the huts is also free. Picking berries and edible mushrooms is allowed.
Pets must be on a leash, except as used for hunting and reindeer husbandry. Hunting rights are restricted to locals.
Dogsleds have right of way on the multi-purpose trail.
During wildfire warnings open fire and fire in normal camping stoves is prohibited (storm-proof ones allowed). The cooking shelters with a chimney may still be used. Otherwise campfires are allowed at campfire sites with provided firewood (use sparingly), in the backcountry zone also otherwise, using small branches from the ground and similar. The person lighting a fire is responsible for it being reliably extinguished.
The backcountry is defined as everywhere outside the popular Riisitunturi–Noukavaara–Nuolivaara area and the surroundings of Liittolampi. See the map at the end of the park rules.
There are hiking and skiing routes in the park. You are allowed to walk and ski outside the trails, except for possible restricted areas.
There is a general-purpose winter trail around the Nuolivaara hills and across Riisisuo, with trailheads halfway between Tolva and Riisitunturi and (formerly) at the road by Noukavaara. The general-purpose trail may be used in winter for skiing, walking, fat-biking and dogsledding.
Biking and horse riding are allowed on the roads Tolva–Niirokumpu och Jaksamo–Ruokamo. In winter, biking is allowed along the multi-purpose trail.
The snow crown loads in winter and hanging bogs are the main attraction, in winter and summer respectively. The latter can be seen on all the routes in the Riisitunturi area.
Riisitunturi provides for nice views also of the surroundings. If you want a landscape with untouched snow, you might want to go a bit farther. Views towards Kitkajärvi can be had both from Riisitunturi and Pikku Riisitunturi. The pond Ikkunalampi between Riisitunturi and Pikku Riisitunturi is also beautiful.
If you come by the trail from Posio or Kirintövaara, enjoy the views of Koljatinlaki; also from here you have views to Kitkajärvi.
There are no accessible trails or other services suitable for the disabled in the park.
The park offers hiking possibilities both in winter and in summer time. The hills are quite steep, which means that the trails are not your usual afternoon walk.
There are lean-to shelters along the trails (huts at some of them) with dry toilet and often a campfire site. Have your own toilet paper and mind wildfire warnings.
- Riisin Rääpäsy Trail (4.3 km round-trip). Very nice hike featuring Riisitunturi Fell, the Open Wilderness Hut, Ikkunalampi Pond, the hanging bogs. It starts from Riisitunturi starting point. The hike is especially nice during winter time. Classified as easy to intermediate.
- Riisin rietas (10.7 km round-trip). Extended from Riisin Rääpäsy to include the slopes of Nuolivaara. Classified as intermediate to demanding, the latter meaning that proper hiking equipment and skills may be needed.
- Riisitunturi trail (33 km one way) from Posio to Tolva through Karitunturi mire protection area and the national park. Several huts and lean-to shelters on the way.
- Kirinkuoppa (7 km). Circle trail from Kirintövaara, outside the park and mire protection area, partly along the Riisitunturi trail. Hills, lake views, rocky old pine forest.
- Kirinmatala (11 km). Circle trail from Kirintövaara, outside the park and mire protection area, partly along the Riisitunturi trail. Hills, lake views, rocky old pine forest.
The multi-purpose trail can be used for skiing.
From mid-January to late April there is a 7-km-long, maintained ski track from Korpihilla Café's parking lot in the village Tolva to the wilderness hut by Riisitunturi. The track is fairly easy.
There is a skiing route also between Posio and Kirintövaara, connecting to a route to Karitunturi starting near Kirintövaara. On the latter, also freestyle skiing (skate-skiing) is possible.
Some souvenirs can be found in the cafés.
There are shops in Posio.
The stove of the open wilderness huts and the day hut can be used for cooking. Open fire can be used at the lean-to shelters and campfire sites (unless there is a wildfire warning). A portable stove can be used anywhere. Catering services may be available also in the park, check with Posio tourist info or local businesses.
The water in the brook and lakes has not been tested, use your judgement. Boil it for a minute or two or use water from the customer service points if unsure.
- 1 Korpihilla Café and Delicacy Shop (Holtinojantie 5, 97985 Tolva, Posio) (Tolva, 400 m along the road north from the village, at the start of the Tolva–Riisi skiing track), ☏ . Korpihilla is in the village of Tolva next to the Riisintunturi National Park. Korpihilla offers home made delicacies made from local, natural ingredients. Their signature drink "Kuohuva Kuusenkerkkäjuoma" has won many awards. Their delicacies can be bough in gift packings.
- 2 Tykky (at the end of the gravel road towards Riisitunturi, at the trailheads at the park border), ☏ , email@example.com. M–F 11:00–15:00. Café. Souvenirs.
The open wilderness huts offers shelter for independent hikers free of charge. The huts have wood-fired stoves for warmth and the Ahmatupa hut also a gas stove for cooking. No bedding or mattresses, nor electricity. The Riisitunturi hut is 4.6 km from Noukavaara starting point and 1.5 km from Riisitunturi starting point. There are also lean-to shelters. In peak summer season you should carry a tent.
- 1 Riisitunturi Open Wilderness Hut (by the marked trail through the park, 2 km from the starting point, 650 m north-east of the peak of Riisitunturi). Free.
- 2 Karitunturi Ahmatupa Open Wilderness Hut (on the western slopes of Iso Karitunturi, at the mire protection area's western border). Open wilderness hut near the trail southwards from the park. Pets not allowed. Free.
- 3 Karitunturi Day Trip Hut (at the top of Iso Karitunturi). Former firewatcher hut, intended for breaks. Free.
- 4 Wilderness hotel Kirikeskus, Kiririnteentie 1 (firstname.lastname@example.org), ☏ . The resort by Kirintövaara. Lakeside hotel. Restaurant. Canoes and small boats for rent. Programme services. Ski slopes. €100, 4-person room €135; pet +€20, half board +€30, full board +42.50/person.
There are no camping sites in the park. One may camp by the Riisitunturi and Karitunturi huts.
Wild camping is allowed in the backcountry area only.
Be sure to understand the implications of travelling in cold weather, if you are going to the park in wintertime without experienced guides taking the responsibility.
- The UKK trail leads through the park (not signposted as such, but along the park's main trail). There is a gap west of Posio, until Syöte National Park, 10 km of which is along the main road. To the east, the UKK trail hits the Karhunkierros trail after 35 km (partly along roads) and continues northward through Oulanka National Park towards Salla and Urho Kekkonen National Park.