Sights in Urho Kekkonen National Park
- Korvatunturi Fell
- Luirojärvi Lake
- Lumikuru Gorge
- Niilanpää Reindeer Round-up Corral
- Nuortti Canyon
- Old Suomunruoktu Hut
- Oskarinkoski Skolt Homestead
- Paratiisikuru Gorge
- Pirunportti Gorge
- Pääsiäiskuru Gorge
- Raja-Jooseppi Homestead
- Rumakuru Gorge
- The Rumakuru Old Hut
- Sokosti Fell
- Suomujoki Skolt Homestead
- Ukselmapää Fell
Rumakuru Gorge is a natural sight in Urho Kekkonen National Park. The steep gorge was created by Ice Age melting water and it is located near the national park along marked trails. The journey from Saariselkä to Rumakuru is 6 km. Rumakuru also has two day-use huts for hikers. The older of the two is the oldest hut in the area.
You can easily admire Pääsiäiskuru Gorge from along the marked trails. Pääsiäiskuru is an interesting natural sight; it is a fell gorge where you may find snow even in July. It is around two kilometres along both summer and winter trails from Urho Kekkonen National Park's gate at Saariselkä.
On the western slope of Niilanpää Fell, inside Urho Kekkonen National Park is the Lapland Herding Cooperative's reindeer corral. The corral was built at the start of the 1960s. It has been mainly used as a corral for ear-marking calves in summer, but also for round-ups in autumn. The corral has not been in active use in reindeer work for several years because the Cooperative's reindeers' grazing rotation has been controlled and the reindeer work has taken place mostly in the Cooperative's western parts. A hut, built and owned by the Lapland Herding Cooperative, is situated by the corral. It was built as a base for reindeer husbandry. The reindeer hut's yard also contains a campfire site, dry toilet and a shed, all built for hikers to use.
The old Suomunruoktu hut in the Urho Kekkonen National Park has seen many different phases and has had many different uses. As far as we know, it was originally built as a sauna for gold prospectors in 1935. In the following decade, Suomen Latu renovated the hut for hiking purposes and in the war it functioned as a military patrol base.
History of the Old Suomunruoktu Hut
The gold prospectors set up a building by the upper course of the River Suomujoki in 1935. It was originally made into a sauna for gold diggers on the shore of the River Suomujoki. The larger dwelling building was located slightly further up on the gentle slope. Engineer Hollman acted as the builder.
Pleasant Overnight Stays for Many Decades
There were two parts in the Suomunruoktu dwelling building; Teräväpää and Tylppäpää, and a kitchen in the middle. During the wars, military patrols lodged in the hut and it was also used as horse stables. In 1943 Suomen Latu bought the hut and the sauna for the purposes of wilderness hiking. The actual hut was in such a poor condition that it was no longer reasonable to repair it, so it was pulled down, and the sauna was made into a hut for wilderness hikers. It has no solid foundation but has been built on the ground. Handcrafted round logs were used as the building material. There is one window in the hut and a saddle roof built with boards. Suomen Latu's repair expeditions and private persons repaired and renovated the hut from 1947 onwards.
The old Suomunruoktu hut is the first open wilderness hut in the Saariselkä area that was made solely for hiking purposes. It served the wilderness hikers for several decades. However, the network of open wilderness huts that was later set up in the Koilliskaira area and particularly the new Suomunruoktu hut (built in 1966) reduced the use of the old hut and the old hut deteriorated. The distance from the old hut to the new hut is about 400 m (600 m along the path). There is a campfire site, a woodshed and a dry toilet by the new Suomunruoktu hut.
In 1976-1978 Suomen Latu restored the old Suomunruoktu hut into a museum destination, and today it is a historical sight in the basic zone of the Urho Kekkonen National Park. The hut is in poor condition. There are still bunks and a table in the hut, but the fireplace has been removed. There is also an old pole latrine behind the museum hut.
'Ruoktu' is a Northern Sámi word for 'home'.
The Rumakuru Old Day-use Hut was built at the turn of the 19th and 20th century in gorge terrain between Vävypää and Vahtamapää Fells in the Saariselkä fell area. At the distance of about half a kilometre from the hut on the side of Vävypää Fell, you can admire the rocky, steep-walled Rumakuru Gorge, a creation of the last Ice Age. The hut was named after the Rumakuru Gorge. It is not known for sure who built the Rumakuru Old Day-use Hut, but traces of digging in the nearby area suggest that gold prospectors built it as their own base. There are only slight traces of gold prospecting in the terrain so there has not been any major gold rush in the area. However, on the basis of the traces in the terrain, it can be assumed that gold was sought in the nearby small brooks. The Rumakuru New Day-use Hut is a distance of about half a kilometre from the Rumakuru Old Day-use Hut. The new day-use hut was built in 1960 for research and hiking purposes.
At the time of the gold rush to Lapland, a small wood-framed hut was built in the vicinity of the headwater branches of the River Kulasjoki. The hut's floor area is about 8 square metres and the height is 2.4 metres (measured in middle of the hut). There is one window on the south-facing wall allowing some light to enter into the hut and another window in the door. The wood-framed hut was built on the ground, on a gentle slope of the gorge. The exterior walls have been made of square timber. The saddle roof has been modernly covered with bitumen felt but upholstered from the top with wood in the old style. Today there is a wood-burning stove and a gas cooker in the hut. The appearance of the hut has been protected by a decree from the Ministry of the Environment in 1994. Consequently, when planning any renovation, the National Board of Antiquities is always contacted first.
Today the Rumakuru Old Day-use Hut serves visitors as an open day-use hut but is not suitable for overnight stays. There are no bunks in the hut, only tables and benches.
Suomujoki Skolt homestead is a Skolt Sami residential area from the 1940s, which has been protected and restored.
Oskarinkoski Skolt homestead is located in the north-eastern part of Urho Kekkonen National Park, along the Luttojoki River. The former homestead of the Skolt Sami people is a significant cultural history site.
At the Raja-Jooseppi homestead you can explore the grounds of the home that Joosef Sallila from Parkano built for himself and his partner Matilda Lehikoinen in the early 1900s. The Raja-Jooseppi homestead is a nationally valuable cultural heritage area and protected by decree of the Finnish Government.
The site has remained almost unchanged: the buildings have been renovated and the grounds have been kept open. There is also a trench dating from the war (1939 - 1945). The Raja-Jooseppi homestead belongs to the Natura area of Urho Kekkonen National Park, Sompio and Kemihaara.
Raja-Jooseppi homestead is a nationally significant cultural history environment.
The Raja-Jooseppi homestead is located on the banks of River Luttojoki, close to the Russian border. Behind River Luttojoki, there is a gorgeous view of the hills on the Russian side. Petsamo was part of Finland from 1920 - 1944, which is why the location of the national border has varied during the lives of Jooseppi and Matilda; for quite a long time, they lived at a distance of one hundred kilometres from the Russian border.
You may visit the Raja-Jooseppi homestead throughout the year, but the road leading to the homestead is not kept open in winter time. The visit to the homestead and its buildings is free of charge.
The destination can be visited freely and no frontier zone permit is needed. The shift of the frontier zone has opened the homestead to all visitors. When the soil is unfrozen, you can walk to the Raja-Jooseppi homestead along the road that goes from the border of the Urho Kekkonen National Park. In winter you can ski to the homestead. When visiting the destination, please bear in mind that it is not permitted to visit the frontier zone. Any attempt to do so will raise an alarm and there will be consequences in accordance with the Border Guard Act.
Dwellers of the Homestead
Around 1910, Jooseppi (Joosef) Juhonpoika Sallila from Parkano and his partner Matilda Lehikoinen came downstream and onto the bank of River Luttojoki. There was a sauna that had been built by two reindeer men named Uula Valle and Arvid Pokka in the middle of wilderness, and Jooseppi and Matilda settled down in the sauna building. They made their livelihood from gold digging, pearlfishing, fishing, hunting and reindeer husbandry. They also bought cows and sheep to the farm. One sign of prosperity was the large potato field. Hay was mowed from the grounds and the nearby island.
Within ten years, a group of hand-made buildings appeared on the grounds. First they lived in the sauna building, but soon they built a new cottage with wall logs that were carved white. The cowshed was made for two cows, but at its best it housed four cows. The potato cellar, which was dug upstream, was absolutely necessary for storing food. The baking oven was set up outside. The grounds and the surrounding rail fence were completed in 1920.
At the beginning of 1920, a vagabond called Huhti-Heikki from Ähtäri arrived at the homestead. While in Canada, he had heard about the annexation of Petsamo to Finland and came to River Luttojoki to take up pearlfishing. Jooseppi persuaded Heikki to stay on the same riverbank and so Huhti-Heikki built his own cottage at the homestead and stayed there for about four years.
Flora on the Raja-Jooseppi Grounds
The beautiful grounds of Raja-Jooseppi have a wide variety of hay and heath fields, fresh hay meadows and shortgrass flood meadows. The field is maintained by mowing and clearing the facing island of birch scrub.
Visitors should lay down on the slope field to listen to the rippling of water and watch clouds drift by. Or they could also take this opportunity to explore the low vegetation more closely. Mixed in with the other species, it is possible to find a rare common moonwort (Botrychium lunaria), leather grapefern (Botrychium multifidum), northern moonwort (Botrychium boreale) or lance-leaved grapefern (Botrychium lanceolatum). Some of the more common species found here are European goldenrod, mountain everlasting, harebell, Alpine bistort, sweetgrass and colonial bentgrass.
The Raja-Jooseppi Homestead's Site Plan
There are the following buildings and structures on the grounds of the Raja-Jooseppi homestead:
2. Cowshed and dry toilet
4. Fish cellar
5. Sheep house
6. Huhti-Heikki's hut
7. Smoke sauna
8. Earth oven
9. Jooseppi's hut
11. Pole for attaching reindeer
12. Leather softening tool
14. Foundations of Jooseppi's new house
How to get to Raja-Jooseppi Homestead by Car
Drive along road no 91 from Ivalo via Akujärvi to Raja-Jooseppi (about 55 km) to the Finnish - Russian border. Before the customs station and the broad space that leads to the station, turn right and continue for about one kilometre along the gravel road that goes to the bank of River Luttojoki. Park the car in the small parking area and walk the rest of the journey (about 300 metres) to the homestead.
In winter the gravel road is not ploughed but you can ski from the customs station to the Raja-Jooseppi homestead.
There is a parking area close the Raja-Jooseppi homestead by the border of Urho Kekkonen National Park. There is also a dry toilet in the Raja-Jooseppi homestead behind the cowshed.
It is prohibited to make a campfire in the area.
Sokosti Fell is the highest fell (718 m) in both Urho Kekkonen National Park and in Eastern Lapland. Sokosti is located to the east of Luirojärvi Lake and summiting it is the dream of many hikers.
Luirojärvi Lake, the "pearl of Urho Kekkonen National Park", is located in the centre of the national park and is a very popular destination for hikers. The rental hut Kuusela, Luirojärvi Reservable Wilderness Hut, Luirojärvi Open Wilderness hut and Rajankämppä Open Wilderness Hut are located at Luirojärvi Lake. They provide overnight shelter for hikers. The old Raappana Turf Hut is on the northeast shore of the lake and is a museum site.
Ukselmapää provides the best views of the park! It is the second highest fell in the national park (698 m). The terrain on Ukselmapää is easily traversible, dry alpine heath.
Paratiisikuru (Paradise Gorge) has been described as the most beautiful place in Urho Kekkonen National Park. Paratiisikuru is located in the Saariselkä wilderness area, to the north-west of Ukselmapää Fell. A clear trail leads to the gorge from Sarvioja, which continues from Paratiisikuru to the edge of Ukselmapää. Paratiisikuru has two clear fell ponds. A waterfall empties into the other. Snow can be found in the gorge until late in the summer. In summer, the gorge's vegetation is lush with, for example, lady fern.
Pirunportti Gorge is located in the wilderness area of Saariselkä, to the north-east of Ukselmapää Fell. Pirunportti (Devil's Gate) lives up to its name as a boulder-filled gorge which acts as a passageway to Muorravaarakka from Paratiisikuru. Snow can be found in the shadowy gorge until late in the summer. Avalanches may occur in the gorge in winter.
Lumikuru starts as a magnificent cliff face between Lumipää and Ukselmapää Fells. The gorge has been named "Snow Gorge" because snow can be found underneath the steep eastern wall almost throughout the summer. A small, clear brook is formed from the gorge's melting waters. The brook runs down to the valley where its edges are surrounded by park-like stands of white mountain birches, quagmires of mosses and ferns and lush patches of meadow. Avalanches may occur in the gorge in winter
Nuortti Canyon is located in the south-eastern part of Urho Kekkonen National Park near River Nuorttijoki. You can familiarise yourself with the canyon along the Nuortti hiking trail.
Korvatunturi is known as Santa Claus's home! Korvatunturi, located in the remotest corner of Itäkaira, is an unusual three-peaked piece of bedrock. The fell's tops are very sharp and are reminiscent of ears, which is probably how it got its name "Ear Fell". The fell is on the national border, in the border zone, so it cannot be accessed alone. You can, however, reach nearby Korvatunturinmurusta along a hiking trail and from there you can view Korvatunturi Fell.