The River Ivalojoki is considered one of the most impressive canoeing routes in Finland. The river is sufficiently demanding and has many rapids. It is surrounded by a ruggedly beautiful wilderness. Especially outside the flood seasons, this route is also suitable for beginners. The recommended section (70 km) is from the village of Kuttura to Ivalo.

River Ivalojoki near Ivalo. Photo: Hanna Ylitalo

The River Ivalojoki is an interesting area because of its gold history. Sights along the trail include The Crown Station of Kultala on the River Ivalojoki, and Ritakoski Rapids. In the museum area of Kultala, you can learn about the gold panning traditions of the last century and, elsewhere along the River Ivalojoki, about the modern gold panning.

Route Description

Although the River Ivalojoki is rocky and shallow in the summer, canoeing this route is possible all year round. On all the rapids until Toloskoski, canoeists need to be prepared to steer clear of underwater rocks. Some small rapids are not included in the description, because for canoeing it is not necessary. The description covers the 70 km section between Kuttura and Ivalo on the River Ivalojoki where the difference in altitude is 82,5 m altogether. The average angle of inclination is 1:848 m. Before shooting the rapids of Saarniköngäs and Toloskoski, it is recommended to investigate the route beforehand.

The height and length of the rapids and some of the names in this description are based on the longitudinal profile of the River Ivalojoki made by the National Board of Waters and Environment. The route instructions are especially based on measurements carried out in June and July 1984, when the water level was near the average level. Levelling period was July - August 1957. Classification of the rapids varies between I - III. When following the route description, please bear in mind that when the water level is low, or when there is a flood, the rapids and also some of the quiet waters take a completely different shape.

Sections of the Route

  • Village of Kuttura
  • Porttiniva 350 / 1,4 m, 1:250, 3 km
  • Porttikoski 1400 / 5,3 m, 1:264, 4 km
  • Timanttiköngäs 900 / 2,4 m, 1:375, 5,5 km
  • Väänäsenniva 700 / 1,6 m, 1:437, 7 km
  • Möllärinkoski 550 / 1,4 m, 1:393, 8 km
  • Saarnaköngäs 700 / 3,5 m, 1:200, 9 km
  • Surmaköngäs 50 / 2,0 m, 1:250, 10 km
  • Penttilänkoski 900 / 3,7 m, 1:243, 12 km
  • Appisköngäs 250 / 0,7 m, 1:357, 13,5 km
  • Korhosenkoski 1250 / 8,4 m, 1:148, 15 km
  • Saunakoski 150 / 0,8 m, 1:187, 17 km
  • Kultalankoski 350 / 2,5 m, 1:140, 18 km
  • Kolmosenkoski 350 / 1,3 m, 1:269, 19 km
  • Rovaniemenkoski 200 / 0,8 m, 1:250, 20 km
  • Björklundinkoski 500 / 2,0 m, 1:250, 21 km
  • Grönholmankoski 800 / 3,8 m, 1:210, 22 km
  • Merimiestenkoski 200 / 1,0 m, 1:200, 23 km
  • Sotajoenkoski 700 / 2,4 m, 1:292, 24 km
  • Sotajoenniva 500 / 0,5 m, 1:1000, 26 km
  • Ritakoski 1400 / 6,5 m, 1:215, 27,5 km
    • upper 600 / 3,2 m, 1:187
    • lower 350 / 2,4 m, 1:145
  • Kuivaniva 600 / 2,4 m, 1:250, 31,5 km
  • Pelsinniva 150 / 0,8 m, 1:187, 33, 5 km
  • Hammasniva 350 / 0,9 m, 1:389, 34,5 km
  • Härkäniva 750 / 1,9 m, 1:395, 38 km
  • Hetanniva 600 / 1,4 m, 1:428, 39 km
  • Toloskoski 850 / 4,6 m, 1:185, 43,5 km
    • upper 200 / 1,2 m, 1:167
    • lower 250 / 3,1 m, 1:81
  • Lappispola 200 / 0,4 m, 1:500, 49 km
  • Pajakoski 650 / 2,0 m, 1:325, 51km
  • Alaniva 700 / 2,2 m, 1:312, 53 km
  • Ivalo 70km

Kuttura

  • There is a canoe launching place on the riverbank near the bridge. On Pirttiniva rapids at Kuttura the stream is quite slow, and the river is shallow which is typical for the River Ivalojoki. After Pirttiniva, there is a 2-km-long quiet section where you can get a feel of what the River Ivalojoki is like to canoe.

Porttiniva, 350 / 1,4 m, 1:250, 3 km

  • Paddle in the middle of the river.

Porttikoski, 1400 / 5,3 m, 1:264, 4 km

  • Start from the right side of the rapids, and continue to the first curve in mid-stream. When the river turns right, let the canoe drift from the mid-stream to the end of the curve near the right bank. From the right edge of the end of the curve, paddle up to the mid-stream before the next curve which turns right. On the lower part of the rapids, paddle in the mid-stream, slightly left from the centre line. The next rapids are Juusolanniva, above which there are the remains of an old gold digger´s cabin and a gold panning site on the left hand side.

Timanttiköngäs, 900 / 2,4 m, 1:375, 5,5 km

  • Juusolanniva, Timanttiköngäs and Åströminniva are all shallow and rocky rapids. Paddle on the outer bend in the curves, and in the middle on the straight stretches.

Väänäsenniva, 700 / 1,6 m, 1:437, 7 km

  • Start from the centre line, paddle on the outer bend in the curves. Pass by the island from the left side in the end of the rapids. After the rapids, there is a popular place for taking pictures on the rock on the left bank.

Möllärinkoski, 550 / 1,4 m, 1:393, 8 km

  • Start from the right side, paddle near the rocks on the right side. Pass by the island from the left side in the end of the rapids. The water in the end of the rapids is shallow and its flow is strong.

Saarnaköngäs, 700 / 3,5 m, 1:200, 9 km

  • It is advisable to inspect the channel on Saarnaköngäs rapids from the right riverbank before paddling. A clear channel can be seen from the bank. There is a hole on top of the rapids, where you can see a couple of long stones under the water, on the foot of the opposite rock. The channel is about 1 m to the right from these stones. Looking from the upstream you can see a large slate boulder, the channel is on the right hand side of this boulder. The hole mentioned above cannot be seen from the upstream, so you need to estimate its location, and the location of the stones. The estimate is correct if you pass by the stones closely from the right hand side. From here, the flow will help the canoe into the channel. It is essential to keep the canoe directly forward to the direction of the descent. The shallowest place of the rapids is on the top, and after the underwater rocks the water is deep, with a strong cross-swell.

Paddling in the River Ivalojoki. Photo: Olli Vainio

Surmaköngäs, 50 / 2,0 m, 1:250, 10 km

  • The top of the rapids can be clearly seen from a canoe. On the right hand side, there is a heap of stones on the riverbank, extending to the water. Start from the left side, near the bank, and paddle on the left for about 100 m, after which cross to the right side and paddle until the end of the rapids at about 5 m distance from the right bank. At the end of the rapids, there are a cross-swell and a surge. After Surmaköngäs, there are calm waters at Ruikansuvanto and a place called Ruikanmutka, where on the left bank there is an old cabin of a hermit, Unto Koivunen.

Penttilänkoski, 900 / 3,7 m, 1:243, 12 km

  • Penttilänkoski includes the upper Penttilänkoski rapids (450 / 1,8 m, 1:250) and almost immediately afterwards Saarikorva rapids (200 / 1,4 m, 1:187). Penttilänkoski rapids begin immediately after the cabin of Unto Koivunen. Start from the right side, near the bank. Paddle on the right for about 100 m, after which the main stream and the channel cross to the left side. The lower part of Penttilänkoski rapids is shallow and rocky. Saarikorva rapids are shallow and rocky. Pass by the island from the left side.

    • Anelinkorva (150 / 0,8 m, 1:187) is a short and steep rapid. Paddle on the right, near the bank.

Appisköngäs, 250 / 0,7m, 1:357, 13,5 km

  • Start and continue in the middle. Rocks. The mouth of the River Appisjoki.

Korhosenkoski, 1250 / 8,4 m, 1:148, 15 km

  • Start from the right side, paddle for about 500 m until the place where there is an island. After the island, the river gets wider and shallower, while the main channel is on the left side. The river is shallow and rocky here. You need to steer clear of the rocks, but mostly stay on the left side of the river until the end of the rapids.

Saunakoski, 150 / 0,8, 1:187, 17 km

  • On the top of Saunakoski rapids, the suspension bridge of Kultala Village can be seen. Start paddling near the right bank, and under the suspension bridge start crossing to the left side, until you reach the bank at Kultala. There is a pebbly shore, good for landing. There are an open wilderness hut and a rental hut in Kultala as well as a reservable hut.

Kultalankoski, 350 / 2,5m, 1:140, 18 km.

  • In Kultalankoski rapids, there is plenty of water, a couple of rocks, and surges. Start and continue on the right side. Almost immediately after Kultalankoski rapids, there are Kolmosenkoski rapids (350 / 1,3 m, 1:269).

Rovaniemenkoski, 200 / 0,8 m, 1:250, 20 km

  • In the beginning of Rovaniemenkoski, there is a cape marked in the map, but in fact it is an island. Start from the left bank, on the right side of the rock, from where paddle down directly.

Björklundinkoski, 500 / 2,0 m, 1:250, 21 km

  • Start on the right bank. Pass by the first island from the left hand side, then immediately cross to the right side of the river, near the bank. Pass by the stone pile island from the right hand side. From the right, move to the mid-stream and continue down.

Grönholmankoski, 800 / 3,8 m, 1:210, 22 km

  • Start slightly right from the centre line, then move to the centre line.
    Pass by the island from the left hand side, near the shore. After the island, move close to the right bank of the river.

Merimiestenkoski, 200 / 1,0 m, 1:200, 23 km

  • There is a clear channel in the middle of the river. In the beginning and the middle part, paddle in the mid-stream, and in the last part near the right bank. After Merimiestenkoski rapids, the River Sotajoki joins the River Ivalojoki from the right. At the confluence, there is a good flat place for camping, and going up the River Sotajoki for about 400 m, there is Liljeqvist open wilderness hut, which is not maintained.

Sotajoenkoski 700 / 2,4 m, 1:292, 24 km

  • Start and continue nearby the left bank (at about 10 m distance from the shore).

Sotajoenniva 500 / 0,5 m, 1:1000, 26 km

  • Start in the middle. Pass by the island from the right side, and by the rock from the left side, paddling in the mid-stream.

Ritakoski 1400 / 6,5 m, 1:215, 27,5 km

  • upper 600 / 3,2 m, 1:187
  • lower 350 / 2,4 m, 1:145

Start from the mid-stream. In the curve, paddle in the right side of the rapids. From there, return to the mid-stream. On the top of the rapids, on the southern bank, there is a dredger as a memorial from the gold digging era. Kultala of Ritakoski Rapids is located on the northern shore, after the rapids. Beware of the rocks when landing. There are an open wilderness hut and a rental hut in Ritakoski. The river becomes shallower after Ritakoski Rapids.

Kuivaniva 600 / 2,4 m, 1:250, 31,5 km

  • Stay in the middle.

Pelsinniva 150 / 0,8 m, 1:187 33, 5 km

  • Start from the left side of the island, nearby the left bank, after which a clear channel can be seen in the middle of the river. After the rapids, on the right, there is Nulkkamukka. At the rocks on the riverbank, where gold was found for the first time in Ivalo, a monument has been built at the place.

Hammasniva 350 / 0,9 m, 1:389, 34,5 km

  • Paddle nearby the right bank. There is a campfire site at the mouth of the River Louhioja, and Louhioja open wilderness hut on the western bank of the River Louhioja, about 400 m upwards from the River Ivalojoki.

Härkäniva 750 / 1,9 m, 1:395, 38 km

  • The channel is near the right bank.

Hetanniva 600 / 1,4 m, 1:428, 39 km

  • Paddle in the mid-stream in the beginning of the rapids, and move to the right side at the place where the house of Tomperi is.

Toloskoski 850 / 4,6 m, 1:185, 43,5 km

  • upper 200 / 1,2 m, 1:167
    It is advisable to inspect Toloskoski rapids from the right riverbank before paddling. In the upper part, start from the left side of the centre line, from where paddle directly towards the centre of the curve. Rocks. In the curve, the current will take the canoe close to the right bank. From there, paddle to the mid-stream. Follow the mid-stream until you see the quiet waters below the rapids, and the steeply descending lower part of the rapids.

  • lower 250 / 3,1 m, 1:81
    Start at about 5m distance from the right bank. Note that you cannot get close to the right bank until you arrive in the lower part of the rapids, but it is essential that you move near the right bank, as there are big rocks in the middle of the lower part of the rapids. It is also possible to paddle near the left side, but there you cannot avoid your canoe touching the bottom of the river many times, and you still need to mind the big rocks in the middle of the rapids, which are almost invisible looking from the upstream. 

Toloskoski rapids. Photo: Olli Vainio

Lappispola, 200 / 0,4 m, 1:500, 49 km

  • Straight forward. A landing place is on the right bank.

Pajakoski, 650 / 2,0 m, 1:325, 51 km

  • Straight forward.

Alakoski, 700 / 82,5 m, 1:312, 53 km

  • Straight forward.

Ivalo, Kuttura - Ivalo, 70 000 / 82,5 m, 1:848, 70 km

  • A landing place immediately after the bridge, on the right bank. A sandy beach.

Directions and Maps

  • The road 9694 goes to the village of Kuttura, which is about 40 km from Laanila, which is located along the road 4 (E75 which goes to Rovaniemi). There are no coach connections to Kuttura. The parking area is located next to the bridge of Kuttura.

  • Topographic maps V 443 and V522 1: 50 000.

Services along the Route

Campfire Sites

  • Campfire sites from the upper course downwards: on the mouths of the rivers Kyläjoki, Appisjoki, Sotajoki and Louhioja.

  • On state-owned lands, it is allowed to use branches and sticks from the ground for making a campfire. To take and use fallen trees of little value from the ground, you need a permit which can be obtained from Metsähallitus Ivalo Customer Service or Kiehinen Customer Service. It is recommended to use designated campfire places whenever possible.

  • Please note that lighting campfires is forbidden also at the constructed campfire places if the forest fire warning is in effect. However, it is allowed to use a camping cooker.

Camping

Open Wilderness Huts and Reservable Huts

Huts from the upper course downwards:

Other Services