The waterfalls at Gausta and Rjukan are an attraction in themselves in the spring and summer. Seeing the water thundering down the mountain slopes is a magnificent experience. The biggest waterfall is Rjukanfossen, which powers Vemork power station. In the winter, the waterfalls turn to ice and attract ice climbers from all around the world.
Vestfjord valley in the late spring is a spectacular sight and something to experience. The meltwater from the high-mountain plateau surrounding Gausta and Rjukan finds it’s way through creeks and streams before throwing itself down the steep sides of Vestfjord vallet. This makes Rjukan the home to approximately 200 waterfalls. They are at their most powerful in May when the snow melts in the mountains and the water levels are at their highest.
Rjukanfossen – ‘the smoking falls’ – is the biggest of all the waterfalls in Rjukan. It is located in the western part of Vestfjord valley and is an impressive 104 metres at its highest drop, which means it is also one of the biggest waterfalls in the county of Telemark. Historically, the waterfall was a well-known landmark and a popular tourist attraction, but today it can seldom be experienced in all its glory. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the water has been diverted and used to power Vemork power station.
If you’d like to see Rjukanfossen as it was before it was used for hydropower, you’ll need excellent timing. The waterfall is released only on rare occasions. Sometimes once a year, at the Marispelet pageant in late July. A spectacle you won’t want to miss!
The falls that throw themselves off the slopes towards Rjukan’s valley not only mean 200 spectacular waterfalls in the spring. When Rjukan’s waterfalls freeze in the winter, they create the ideal conditions for world-class ice climbing. The ice-climbing season is long, from November to April, and there are many climbing opportunities. With over 150 ice-climbing trails, Rjukan and Gausta can offer climbing for all levels of difficulty. No wonder Rjukan is often referred to as the best place in northern Europe for ice climbing!
Read more: World class ice-climbing in Rjukan
“The special thing about the ice in Rjukan is that the sun disappears in winter. It doesn’t reach the valley. This means the quality of the ice is very good.”