Instructions and rules for Salla National Park

NB! More detailed instructions and rules for Salla National Park will be provided later once the new management plan and rules for the area have been completed. For the time being, the policies of the earlier management plan remain valid: https://julkaisut.metsa.fi/fi/julkaisut/show/7 

In Salla National Park, the following activities are

Permitted

  • walking, skiing, rowing and paddling, with the exception of the border zone. 
  • Making campfires is permitted at designated sites in the recreational zone. Outside the recreational zone, fires may for the time being be lit under Metsähallitus’ general permission. By decision of Metsähallitus, lighting campfires in the forest is generally permitted on state-owned land in Lapland, North Ostrobothnia, Kainuu and North Karelia. You can use dry branches, twigs and small root stocks to build a fire. A serviced campfire site must be used if one can be found within a half-kilometre radius. In protected areas with a valid management plan or regulations, the contents of these plans and regulations must be observed when lighting fires. In most national parks, for example, campfires are only allowed on serviced campfire sites.  
  • picking berries and edible mushrooms 
  • angling and ice fishing. Before you go fishing, you need to check for any fishing restrictions at kalastusrajoitus.fi. 

Restricted

  • lighting open fires and camping; we recommend camping in close proximity to rest stops
  • fishing. Before you go fishing, you need to check for any fishing restrictions at kalastusrajoitus.fi.
  • snowmobiling is permitted on snowmobile tracks, for which a permit issued by Metsähallitus is required. Metsähallitus' tracks are unofficial routes subject to a charge. In order to use these tracks, a snowmobile user can apply to Metsähallitus for an individual or shared family track permit. With this permit, they may use their snowmobile on all tracks found on Metsähallitus’ track map. Read more about tracks and track permits. To use a snowmobile anywhere else, you need an off-road permit issued by the landowner. 
  • almost the entire area of Salla National Park belongs to the ADIZ border zone, which means that all drone operators must submit a drone flight plan to AIS Finland prior to flying.
  • in addition, the park is delimited by the state border in the east. This means that part of the park is located in the border zone, and a border zone permit is needed to access it (raja.fi).

Prohibited

  • lighting open fires when a forest fire warning is in effect
  • accessing the border zone
  • allowing pets to run freely
  • operating motor vehicles, except on roads designated for them
  • littering and damaging the structures.

Two children are having a picnic at a wooden table. Lunchboxes, a bottle, a flask and wooden cups can be seen on the table.

Preparation

To fully enjoy your experience in nature, you should plan your excursion carefully and find out about the local conditions. 

Safety

  • Remember to inform your friends and family, your accommodation or Salla National Park customer service point of your schedule and route plan. If possible, also notify them about any changes in your route and schedule. Record your visit in the visitor's book of huts and lean-to shelters. This will assist rescuers in case of an emergency. The area is covered by the statutory rescue services, which can be reached through the Emergency Response Centre. Always remember to let someone know when you have arrived to your destination to avoid a rescue mission being organised unnecessarily.  Remember that the first phone number you should call in an emergency is 112. 
  • You can practise hiking on day trips. When you wish to try hiking outside marked trails, going out with someone more experienced is a good idea.
  • The area has a dense trail network. While the trails are marked in the forest, you should get a suitable map to avoid confusing the different trail options.
  • You should not head out on long excursions without navigation and hiking skills. You should also note that many trails in this area have significant height differences, which makes them more demanding.
  • Late winter is a popular time for excursions, but you will also need appropriate gear during this season. You should not leave the managed track network if you do not have special skis designed for this purpose!
  • Winter excursions are demanding. You need to prepare for harsh weather and short day length, as the temperature may drop below -40 degrees, and you only get a few hours of daylight during the polar night. The wind chill factor will make sub-zero temperatures considerably more difficult to sustain. You will also need more energy in very cold temperatures.
  • You should be careful when following snowmobile tracks. They do not necessarily lead to where you are going. Getting lost is always dangerous in winter.
  • In ravines, you may run the risk of an avalanche.
  • You should avoid going out alone. In an emergency, the help of a fellow hiker is invaluable.
  • Remember to always carry a first-aid kit.
  • You should also read the safety tips in the Outdoor Guide.
  • Also visit the What’s New page of your destination.
  • Forest roads are not maintained in winter, which is why you should select one of the National Park's official parking areas as the starting point of your excursion: Salla Wilderness Park, the Ski Resort or the Northern slopes. 
  • Please note that there are no huts suitable for overnight stays in Salla National Park. A tent or similar is part of the hiker’s basic gear. 

Seasons

It is important to familiarise yourself with the destination in advance and prepare carefully for your excursion. Staying on the trail and keeping an eye on weather forecasts make for a successful trip. You should get hold of Sallatunturi outdoor map before heading out.

Summer usually only begins around mid-June once the frozen ground has thawed out and warmed up. The midgets hatch after Midsummer. 

Autumn colours in Salla usually emerge in mid-September and go on until early October, after which time the first sub-zero temperatures cause the leaves to fall off trees. An autumn storm can sometimes pull the leaves off earlier. 

The first snow in winter (fmi.fi) usually falls around mid-October, and the snow accumulation in an average winter is 85 cm. The winter in Koillismaa is harsh due to very low temperatures and the heavy snow cover. We only recommend winter excursions for the most experienced outdoor enthusiasts. The lowest temperatures measured in Naruska, Salla have reached below -50 degrees C. You should remember that the wind chill factor will make sub-zero temperatures considerably more difficult to sustain. You also need more energy in cold weather, and you should account for this when packing your food supplies. You should note that on winter hikes, you will travel considerably more slowly than in the snow-free season, on average 1.5 km/h. You should also check carefully the length of daylight hours (moisio.fi) before heading out. The day length is at its shortest around the winter solstice (21 December), at which time there is 1 hour and 47 minutes of daylight in Salla. The sun rises at 11:10 and sets at 12:57.

Spring usually comes to Koillismaa in the last week of April as the days grow longer. Spring floods usually start in mid-May, and the flood waters will normally have receded by early June, in time for the flowering of the calypso orchid (Calypso bulbosa).

Peak seasons

The peak times for excursions in the National Park are the skiing season from Christmas till March and the hiking season in summer/autumn. 

A woman and a dog are walking along duckboards in a mire. There is a lake in the background.

Recommended gear

  • Choose your gear and food supplies in accordance with the seasons.
  • The most important pieces of equipment are a knife, matches, a map and a compass. In addition to food and drink, these are the things that you should always carry, even on the shortest day trip. More information about the gear and hiking is available in books on hiking and on the Outdoor Guide web page. 
  • Saws and axes are provided at the lean-to shelters and huts. Especially on winter excursions, bringing your own saw an axe is a good idea. Any spare saw blades can be found on the wall of the firewood shed.

Mobile phone coverage

While the mobile networks in Finland have a wide coverage, there may be areas with a weak signal in Salla National Park. Check the coverage of your network with your mobile phone operator. In addition, there are always places where the mobile phone does not work or calls are disrupted. In such situations, going to an open place that is higher than its surroundings and/or removing your phone's SIM card while you make an emergency call may help. You should also note that the signal strength may differ between mobile phones.

You should keep your phone warm and carry food and drink. Certain phone models do not work in sub-zero temperatures, which is why you should inform someone of your route plan and schedule. To ensure that your mobile phone does not run out of power, you should bring a backup power supply, a spare battery, or an old phone with a working battery.