Instructions and Rules in Oulanka National Park

Oulanka National Park is a nature reserve that has been founded as a public natural feature of interest. The natural world and species in the national park are amongst the most outstanding in Finland. It is important to study matters dealing with the national park in advance and prepare yourself properly for your trip by reading the instructions, rules and regulations of the park.

Different rules apply to different zones of Oulanka National Park as regards getting around in nature, camping and lighting campfires: the rules are different in the original part of the park, the aapa mire part of the park and the area of Kitkanniemi. You can see the zones in the rules and regulations for Oulanka (in Finnish, appended map 1, p. 7, pdf, julkaisut.metsa.fi).

Getting around in nature is limited in the restricted areas and the border zone. Take a look at the restricted areas in the national park on the Excursionmap.fi website.

Respect Nature

The outdoor activities in the Oulanka National Park are guided with the rules and regulations. When getting around in nature, let’s show respect for it. Take a look at the Outdoor Etiquette.

Please don’t share any such contents on the Internet that break the rules of the national park.

Letting pets run free is forbidden. The dogs that are used for hunting and reindeer husbandry do not need be kept on a leash during those activities.

Getting around in Nature

In the Oulanka National Park, you may freely walk, snowshoe, ski, row and canoe, except in the restricted areas and the border zone: 

  • It is forbidden to enter the restricted areas of Pähkänänkallio and Koivumutka from 1 April to 15 August. The Karhunkierros Trail runs along the southern border of the restricted area, and you are not allowed to leave the trail to the restricted area.
  • It is forbidden to enter the area of Juuman vuomat from 1 April to 31 December, except for along the marked trails. You must travel along the marked trail when hiking along the Pieni Karhunkierros Trail.
  • It is forbidden to enter the restricted area of Korvasvaara from 1 April to 31 December.
  • The eastern edge of the aapa mire part of the park belongs to the border zone that may not be entered without a permit granted by the Finnish Border Guard. The border zone has been marked in the terrain and on maps.

Camping

Temporary camping is allowed in the original part of the national park and Kitkanniemi in the following places: in the immediate vicinity of the rest spots and campfire sites that have been marked on the map and in the terrain, very close to the huts, as well as at the camping sites that have been marked in the terrain. The wilderness huts have been listed on the Services page. All huts, lean-to shelters and campfire sites in Oulanka are available on the Excursionmap.fi website.

You are allowed to camp freely in the aapa mire area in the northern part of the national park.

In the area of Kitkanniemi, locals are also allowed to camp temporarily – when fishing – in other places than at the marked camping sites.

Lighting Campfires

Lighting an open fire in the Oulanka National Park is allowed at the maintained campfire sites that have been marked on the map and in the terrain. You are only allowed to use the firewood that has been reserved for the purpose. The person who lights the campfire is always responsible for the fire.
The use of a portable camping stove is allowed in areas where hiking is allowed.

In the aapa mire part of the national park, making a campfire is allowed – in addition to at the maintained campfire sites – on shores, using branches or twigs that lie on the ground, or other low-value wood.

During the Forest and Grass Fire Warning:

  • Lighting an open fire is forbidden everywhere, including at the marked campfire sites, when a forest fire warning (ilmatieteenlaitos.fi) is in effect.
    • The ban does not concern the cooking shelters or other fireplaces with a chimney, which are the Kiutaköngäs, Harrisuvanto and Jyrävä cooking shelters.
  • During the forest and grass fire warning, the use of twig stoves is not allowed, as sparks may be created.

Litter-free Hiking

There are no mixed garbage bins in the Oulanka National Park and along the Karhunkierros Trail. Take away everything you brought along.
There are two recycling points in the Oulanka National Park along the Karhunkierros Trail: one at the Oulanka Camping Ground and the other close to Myllykoski, at a crossing of the Karhunkierros Trail.

  • You can put all recyclable waste, such as metal and glass, in the recycling points.
  • You can also leave batteries and small rechargeable batteries in the recycling points.
  • You can put leftovers and other biowaste in a dry toilet or composter at rest spots.

Small amounts of clean paper and cardboard may be used as kindling at a campfire site or a fireplace at a wilderness hut. Other waste, such as packages that contain aluminium foil or plastic, may not be burned in a fireplace, as they may form non-biodegradable waste and toxic gases.

Fishing

Ice fishing and angling are allowed at the lakes and ponds of the Oulanka National Park. Fishing is prohibited in the restricted area of the Lake Pesosjärvi catchment basin.

For fishing on the flowing waters of Oulanka, you will need both a national fisheries management fee (eraluvat.fi) and a separate fishing permit Oulankajoki 5572 (eraluvat.fi). You can ask more about the angling permits at the Oulanka customer service.

Fishermen must check the fishing restrictions on kalastusrajoitus.fi (in Finnish).

Berry and Mushroom Picking

Picking berries and other fungi than those growing on trees is allowed, unless prevented by restricted access to the area.

Biking

During the snow-free season, biking is only allowed, along the Karhunkierros Trail, from Oulanka Visitor Centre to Taivalköngäs. Take a look at the route on the map. Biking elsewhere in the national park is prohibited.

During the snowy season, biking is allowed elsewhere than along the Pieni Karhunkierros Trail.

Horse Riding

Riding is prohibited elsewhere in the national park than along the forest roads.

Other Rules and Instructions

Forbidden Activities in the Oulanka National Park

  • Damaging soil or rock, and extracting earth material or minerals.
  • Catching, killing or disturbing wild vertebrates, and destroying their nests.
  • Catching or collecting invertebrates.
  • Driving a motor vehicle beyond designated roads.
  • Leaving waste in the area and damaging the structures.
  • Taking or damaging trees, shrubs or other plants, or their parts.
  • Extracting earth materials, damaging the soil and bedrock, and the drainage of forests, mires or other areas.
  • Constructing buildings, structures or roads.
  • Covering, changing, damaging, removing, violating or excavating in archaeological sites.
  • Activities that disturb other people
  • Other measures that may be disadvantageous to the natural conditions of the national park, landscape or the preservation of the animal or plant species.

Rules and Regulations for Oulanka

The rules and regulations of Oulanka National Park (in Finnish, Pdf 4.2 Mb, julkaisut.metsa.fi), ratified on 24 May 2021.

A mobile phone with a picture of a summer river landscape and the tips of a hiker's shoes.

Tourist season

The majority of Oulanka's 250,000 annual visitors come during summer. The main tourist season starts in the end of June and lasts to the end of August. The Pieni Karhunkierros Trail, the Karhunkierros Hiking Trail and the Kiutaköngäs Rapids are the most popular places among visitors.

Seasons

  • In Kuusamo leaves change colour from mid-September to the beginning of October, when the first freezing weather causes them to fall from the trees.
  • Winter in the Koillismaa region is harsh, due to sub-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall. We recommend winter trekking only for the more experienced. Permanent snow generally falls around mid-October. An average of 85 cm of snow falls each year. The lowest temperature ever recorded at Kiutaköngäs is -46 °C.
  • Spring arrives in the Koillismaa region in the last week of April as the days get longer. The annual spring flood normally begins in mid-May and waters stay at a higher level to the beginning of June, when calypsos (Calypso bulbosa) begin to bloom.
  • Summer begins only around mid-June when the ground has thawed.
  • Read more on hiking in winter in Oulanka.

Safety

It is important that you get as much information as possible about your hiking destination in advance and prepare for your trip thoroughly. Knowing your route and sticking to it and knowing what the weather has in store, will help make your trip a success. It is also good to know if the forest fire warning is in effect. The Rukatunturi-Oulanka 1:50 000 outdoor map is very good to have when setting-off on a hike. 

112 Emergency Number

If you have an emergency during your trip, such as getting lost, injured or finding a wildfire, call 112. Read more detailed emergency instructions.

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Download the 112 Finland application (112.fi) to your phone. When an emergency call is made through the 112 Finland application, the emergency center attendant is automatically informed of the caller's location.

It is recommended to keep the mobile phone warm and to bring extra food and water with you. There are many excursion locations with no mobile coverage and some mobile phones does not work in sub-zero temperatures, that is why it is always a good idea to let someone know about your itinerary and timetable.

Outdoor Etiquette

1. Respect nature.

2. Mainly use marked trails.

3. Camp only where it is allowed.

4. Light your campfire only where it is allowed.

5. Do not litter.

Read more

Check for Warnings

When forest and grass fire warnings (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi) are in effect, fire is only allowed at covered campfire sites that have a flue. A fire can be also lit in fireplaces at wilderness and other huts. Always use extreme caution when handling fire. The one who lights a fire is always responsible for its safe use. Please note, that making fire at these campfire sites can be banned locally. 

Drawing of a fireplace. The drawing shows the roof, the flue and off the ground.