What is and is not allowed in a Finnish national park.
In Finland we have this thing called Every Man’s Rights but against popular belief, they do not apply in national parks. They have their own rules and regulations.
What constitutes as a national park?
There are 40 national parks in Finland and the latest arrival to the group is Hossa National Park which was opened this year. The most popular one** is Pallas-Ylläs National Park, coincidentally.
A national park is a nature reservation area open to everyone.
They usually represent the Finnish nature but also contain pieces of our most priced attractions, such as national landscapes. They’ve also built services and recreational areas to make it easy for you to visit: Visitor’s Centers for information and guidance, marked trails, rest stops and campsites.
What is okay to do in national parks?
You’re allowed to move from point A to point B on foot, on skis, on a boat and by paddling. Since June 2017 you’re also allowed to travel by bicycle on all marked trails, save for a few exceptions.
You’re also allowed to pick berries and food mushrooms.
What a short list, huh? You can travel and pick stuff! There are also a bunch of things that are allowed within certain parameters.
Making a fire and camping
Both are allowed only on their designated spots. However, in wilderness areas you’re allowed to camp wherever you want and you can even make a fire as long as it’s near a eater source and as long as you use twigs.
The Hetta-Pallas trail does not go through said wilderness areas so making a fire or camping on a non-designated spot is not allowed. So you can’t pitch a tent all willy-nilly. Make sure to check the location of wilderness huts and lean-tos. All huts can be found on the second installment of this series as well.
Besides, the huts have the best camping spots with water sources and outhouses nearby.
You can set up camp for two days in a row so keep that in mind.
Horseback riding, dog sleds and groups
Horseback riding and riding dog sleds is allowed for liaison entrepreneurs and only on their designated routes.
Larger groups (over 50 people) and their events are strictly subject to license. Contact the Visitor’s Center if you’re planning something like that.
What is not okay to do in national parks?
Pets, such as dogs, are not allowed to run free anywhere in the park, no matter how small or obedient or harmless they might be. So don’t forget to bring a leash.
In a national park it’s fine to bring a dog in a wilderness hut but only if it’s okay to everyone inhabiting it at the time. Reservation huts are off-limits to all pets.
Pro tip: bring a tent if you’re hiking with a pet!
Damaging plants and terrain in general is prohibited. In short, pick only berries and food mushrooms, touch nothing else.
Making stone piles is also prohibited in the fells and on trails.
So try and fight the urge to “leave a mark” by making what you consider a rocky art piece. And if there are ancient piles, don’t remove stones either. Basically, don’t be that guy. Come on.
Capturing, hunting, scaring and/or killing of any animal is naturally prohibited. Scaring animals also includes letting your dog run free. You won’t even notice when your pet is already running after a baby bird or chasing down a reindeer. And even if they didn’t, them’s the rules.
It’s also prohibited to ride motorized vehicles within a national park. Same goes for littering and damaging structures. During a forest fire hazard all open fire is strictly prohibited.
Movement is restricted in five restricted zones for wildlife preservation. Again, the Hetta-Pallas trail doesn’t cross any of them so if you just follow the markings, you’ll be fine.
Restricted zones of Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park:
- Onnasjärvi-Onnasjoki – all foot traffic is prohibited from May 1st to November 30th.
- Hanhivuoma area – all foot traffic is prohibited due to avian mating season and salmon spawning throughout the year.
- Pahakuru, Suaskuru and Haltioleto restricted zones are off-limits throughout the year.
- Pyhäjoki and Varkaankuru restricted zones – foot traffic is allowed from May 1st to November 30th on the marked trail exclusively.
- Cycling is prohibited in Palkaskero, Varkaankuru, Tuomikuru, Pirunkuru and Kellostapulinkuru for nature conservation and general safety.
Sources and additional information:
Pallas-Yllästunturi code of conduct.
Luontoon.fi: Instructions to Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park
*Source: Wikipedia with the search word National Park.
**Source: Metsa.fi July 31st, 2017.
The ultimate Hetta-Pallas guide answers your questions about the most popular and the oldest hiking trail in Finland. This is the third installment. Click the texts below to go to the other blog posts. If the post is already published, you’ll see a link. You can also ask additional information in the comment section below or by sending us a message on Facebook!
- Preparations and bookings/services
- Huts along the trail
- Hut etiquette
- National Park rules and regulations
- Terrain difficulty, trail safety and cellphone coverage
- Trash-free hiking, economic use of gas and firewood
- History and culture
Writer Anne Sulander has been volunteering in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park in 2016 and 2017. She has also hiked the trail several times. If you find an factual error in the text or if you have any questions, comment below!