Instructions and Rules in Urho Kekkonen National Park

The mission of the Urho Kekkonen National Park is to preserve the forests, bogs, and fells of Forest Lapland and Peräpohjola and to safeguard the opportunities for wilderness hiking and tourism together with natural livelihoods, mainly reindeer husbandry.

The everyman's rights are limited in the National Park. Different rules apply to hiking, camping, and lighting fires in the National Park's recreational and nature tourism zones, remote zone and the border zone. 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. The zones can be seen in the Urho Kekkonen National Park Regulations appendix map (appendix map 1, page 5, pdf, julkaisut.metsa.fi, in Finnish).

Camping and lighting fires are restricted in the remote zone in Paratiisikuru, Lumikuru, the Skolt homesteads, and Raja-Jooseppi museum area. Take a look at the restricted areas in the national park on Maps pages and in Excursionmap.fi.

Respect Nature
Pets
Getting Around in National Park
Camping
Lighting Campfires
Litter-free Hiking
Fishing
Picking Berries, Mushrooms and Wild Herbs
Biking
Driving a Dog Sled and Riding
Other Rules and Instructions
Forbidden Activities
Peak Seasons
Safety

Respect Nature

The outdoor activities in the Urho Kekkonen 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 running at large is forbidden. Dogs and other pets are welcome in the national park but only on a leash. Dogs used in hunting and reindeer husbandry may be kept loose when participating in said activities.

Getting Around in National Park

You are free to walk, ski, row, and canoe in the National Park, with the exception of the border zone:

  • The national park has been divided into the following zones to regulate its use and to prevent its wearing down: the recreational and nature tourism zone and remote zone. The zones have different regulations for hiking, lighting fires and camping. See the zonedivision from the Excursionmap.fi.
  • In the east, the National Park extends to the Russian border, where the border zone is. The perimeter of the border zone is marked in the terrain with yellow markings. You must always obtain a border zone permit from the Finnish Border Guard (raja.fi) to enter the border zone. Even a small step into the border zone is not permitted without an appropriate permit.

Camping

Short-term camping is allowed only in the recreational and nature tourism zone in the immediate proximity to huts, lean-tos, and campfire sites.  In the remote zone, you can camp everywhere except in Paratiisikuru, Lumikuru, Raja-Jooseppi museum area, and the Skolt homesteads, where it is forbidden.  Wilderness and reservable huts, rental huts and rental turf huts are listed on the Huts page. All the huts, lean-tos, and campfire sites in Urho Kekkonen National Park can be found on Excursionmap.fi.

Lighting Campfires

In addition to camping, there are different campfire regulations in the recreational and nature tourism zone and in the remote zone.

In the recreational and nature tourism zone lighting a fire is only permitted at maintained campfire sites that are marked on the map and in the terrain, using firewood brought in for that specific purpose. Campfires are prohibited elsewhere.

In the remote zone, you can make a temporary campfire using twigs, dry branches, and small roots. Using official campfire sites is recommended, though. Campfires are forbidden in Paratiisikuru, Lumikuru, Raja-Jooseppi museum area, and the Skolt homesteads.

The use of a portable camping stove is allowed in areas where hiking is allowed. During the forest and grass fire warning, the use of hobo stoves is not allowed, as sparks may be created.

Please note that lighting campfires is also forbidden at campfire sites if the forest fire warning or the grass fire warning is in effect. Check the current warnings (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi). Lighting fire is only allowed at campfire sites with roofs and chimneys, as well as in the hut fireplaces. 

Remember that the person lighting a fire is always ultimately responsible for it.

Litter-free Hiking

Food and other biowaste can be left in a dry toilet at a campsite. Biowaste cannot be placed in a vacuum toilet. There are vacuum toilets in the day trip area at Rumakuru and Rautulampi day trip huts and at Luulampi.

Small amounts of clean paper and cardboard may be used as kindling at a campfire site or a fireplace at a 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.

Read more about Hiking without littering.

Fishing

Hook and line fishing and ice fishing are permitted in the National Park's lakes and ponds.

Fishing in running waters requires a fisheries management fee (eräluvat.fi) and the National Park’s angling permit. There are two angling permit areas: Urho Kekkonen National Park 1563 (eräluvat.fi) and Luttojoki (1568), which is divided into three zones (eräluvat.fi). Ask more about angling permits from Urho Kekkonen National Park Customer Service Kiehinen.

Fishers need to check the restrictions on fishing sites at kalastusrajoitus.fi (In Finnish).

Picking Berries, Mushrooms and Wild Herbs

Picking berries and mushrooms is permitted.

Removing or destroying trees, bushes and other plants or their parts is prohibited. Picking wild herbs is therefore forbidden.

Biking

Biking in the National Park is not an everyman’s right; it is restricted. In the summer, biking is only allowed on trails marked in the terrain, with the exception of the trail leading to the top of the Kiilopää fell. If biking on the marked trail is prevented for some reason (for example a flood, soft terrain), it is not permitted to continue biking next to the trail.

Biking is also allowed on the following unmarked trails:

  • Kakslauttanen - Kopsusjärvi.
    • In Kopsusjärvi, biking is NOT permitted on the esker next to the lake, and your bicycle must be left on the edge of the esker. This is to prevent the deterioration of the thin peat layer and the emergence of new tracks.
  • Niilanpää - Suomunruoktu (open and reservable wilderness hut).
  • Raja-Jooseppi - Anterinmukka (open wilderness hut).
  • Kemihaara - Peskihaara - Keskipakat.
  • Kemihaara - Mantoselkä.
  • Kemihaara - Rakitsat.

You can see the recommended mountain biking trails in the Urho Kekkonen National Park here.

Winter biking is allowed everywhere during the snow season, with the exception of maintained ski tracks.

  • Biking on ski tracks also poses a safety risk.

Driving a Dog Sled and Riding

Driving a dog sled is forbidden, with the exception of the trail going around Pieranvaara (Saariselkä) that requires a separate agreement.

Horseback riding is possible only on the following routes:

  • Kemihaara - Peskihaara - Keskipakat.
  • Kemihaara - Mantoselkä.
  • Kemihaara - Rakitsat tourist service route.
  • Kakslauttanen - Kopsusjärvi trail lean-to.

Other Rules and Instructions

Local residents are entitled to engage in hunting activities within the National Park in their own home municipalities.

As a rule, a permit or consent issued by Metsähallitus is required for activities other than those included in everyman’s rights. These can include, for example, research activities, organised events, and filming of films or advertisements on location. Further information on required permits: Research and access permits (metsa.fi) and permits and notifications related to events (metsa.fi).

Using routes and structures of Urho Kekkonen National Park in business activities is always subject to a fee, and repeated business requires a co-operation agreement with Metsähallitus (metsa.fi). The right of use fees for specific days are paid at the Eräluvat webshop (eraluvat.fi).

Other Forbidden Activities in the Urho Kekkonen National Park

  • Using motor vehicles (including motorboats and jet skis).
  • Damaging soil or rock, and extraction of earth material or minerals.
  • Killing, catching or disturbing wild vertebrates, or damaging their nests.
  • Catching or collecting invertebrates.
  • Leaving waste in the area, or damaging structures.
  • Covering, changing, damaging, removing, violating or excavating in archaeological sites.
  • Activities that disturb other people.
  • Biking on the trail leading to the top of the Kiilopää fell.
  • Other activities that may have an adverse effect on the local natural conditions, the landscape, or the preservation of animal or plant species.

Rules and Regulations for Urho Kekkonen

The rules and regulations of Urho Kekkonen National Park (pdf 864 kb, julkaisut.metsa.fi, in Finnish), ratified on 2 September 2016.

Peak Seasons

The peak seasons for excursions in the National Park are the skiing season in March and April, and the hiking season in the summer and autumn. The open wilderness huts are often full during peak seasons, so make sure to reserve a place in a reservable hut, rental hut or turf hut, and to keep a tent with you, unless you plan to sleep under the stars. In winter, a tent is a part of a hiker’s basic equipment for your own safety. The area between Saariselkä and Kiilopää has the largest number of visitors on the trails marked in the terrain.

Safety

It is important that you get as much information as possible about your hiking destination in advance and prepare for your trip thoroughly. You should obtain a Saariselkä-Sokosti 1:50 000 outdoor map for your trip. Knowing your route and sticking to it and knowing what the weather and warnings in effect (en.ilmatieteenlaitos.fi) has in store, will help make your trip a success. 

  • Take into account the different seasons when packing equipment and food. In winter, your energy consumption is higher and you need to eat considerably more than in summer.
  • The most important equipment when hiking are a knife, matches, a map and compass. They should be taken along even on the shortest day trips in addition to food and drink. You can find more detailed information on equipment and hiking for example from the Outdoor Guide on Luontoon.fi website or from hiking books.
  • A sleeping bag is part of a hiker’s basic equipment, and a tent is also needed especially in winter.
  • Make use of the good, comprehensive network of huts in the national park when planning a hike. In the off-season there is usually room in the huts, but if you want to guarantee yourself a sleeping place, make a reservation for a reservable hut or turf hut or keep a tent with you.
  • You should also take your own fire alarm with you, just in case, because moisture and the cold weaken the functioning of the fire alarm batteries.
  • Especially winter campers should take their own axe and/or saw with them when they leave for their trip.
  • Dress for hiking in colorful clothes and according to the weather.
  • The hut's folder contains e.g. instructions on how to use equipment and how to behave in the hut. Mark down your name and route in the guest books. In emergencies these markings can be vital.
  • 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.
  • Before setting out on a trek explain your exact route to someone reliable. If your route changes tell your contact as soon as possible. Remember to also tell them when you have returned from your trek. You can leave your route information at your place of lodging, Fell Centre Kiilopää or any of the parks Visitor Centres. Mark down your visits in the huts' and tepees' guest books. In emergencies the markings serve as aids to helpers. The area's rescue service has been organised according to statutes and it can be reached through the emergency exchange. Remember to give notice of your arrival so that the searchers are not called out unnecessarily.
  • The weather may change rapidly on the fells. A quickly forming fog or blizzard may cause dangerous situations.
  • In winter, trekking is very demanding. Harsh weather and poor light in the middle of winter cause difficulties. The temperature can drop to -40° and during the darkest part of winter there is sunlight for only a couple of hours. The cold is increased significantly by wind chill.
  • Orienteering skills are essential. Be prepared for emergencies such as having to camp out in the forest.
  • Avoid hiking alone. In emergencies a hiking partner is immeasurably valuable.
  • Early spring is a popular time for trekking, but even then proper gear is needed.If you have normal cross-country skis, you should stay on maintained trails.
  • You should be careful when following snowmobile tracks. They do not necessarily lead to where you are going. Getting lost is especially dangerous during winter.
  • Please note there may be a risk of an avalanche in ravines.
  • Make sure you pack a first-aid kit. If you face an emergency on your hike, e.g. get lost, get injured or observe wildfire, call 112 and report an emergency. The area is covered by the statutory rescue services, which can be reached through the Emergency Response Centre. More information on how to act in an emergency.
  • Mobile phone coverage in Urho Kekkonen National Park is fair, but there are many areas with a weak signal. Read more about mobile phone coverage (112.fi).
  • Hiking in Finland

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.

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

For Entrepreneurs

Tourist entrepreneurs operating in national parks or other areas managed by Metsähallitus need a cooperation agreement. A fee is charged for using the routes and service infrastructure for business activities.

Information for Companies and Big Groups

Do you plan to organize guided excursions to the Finnish National Parks or other protected areas? It is possible due to partnership agreement with Metsähallitus, Parks & Wildlife Finland.

Overnighting

Many kinds of Huts for the Hiker. Please note, that it is not allowed for big groups or commercial groups to overnight in Open Wilderness Huts and in Day Trip Huts