Planet Earth plays host to innumerable spectacular places to ride around on two wheels and we are lucky enough to live near one that really takes your breath away.
The stunning Wilderness Road or Vildmarksvägen in Swedish cuts it's way through the wild country that lies on the high plateau of Stekenjokk. Covered in DEEP snow for most of the autumn, winter and spring, the road opens up in June for five short months.
Carving a path
The snow has nowhere near melted at the beginning of June though. The road is ploughed by a special GPS guided snowplough which is needed because the road is hidden under up to 6 metres of packed snow in some places.
We talked to Anders Westlin who lives in the area and used to drive the giant snowplough 13 years ago:
"Up here you can normally ski until midsummer. When the road opens in June, the depth of the snow can be up to 6 meters. And 2020 has been a year where the walls are incredibly high! It must be some kind of record year."
A beautiful film of the ploughing of Vildmarksvägen 2020
The Wilderness road is one of the few places in Scandinavia where you have direct access to the higher mountainous areas from the road. This gives you the possibility of going mountain hiking on 'four wheels' - you can drive all the way up into the mountains making hiking at altitude super accessible.
But why use 4 wheels when you can use 2!? The Wilderness Road is indeed a spectacular cycling route.
Pascal Hansson did a test ride just days before the full opening of the road this year. We asked him how does it feel to be there on a bike?
Photos: Pascal Hansson
"The feeling is fantastic. You get to experience all the seasons at once. You feel the pure energy of Mother Earth. A bonus is that you can do a lot of different sports the very same day. Cross country ski in the morning, road cycling in the middle of the day, and visit some sights in the evening on foot."
Facts about the Wilderness Road:
The part of the road between Leipikvattnet and Klimpfjäll is only open in summer.
This part is usually open between June 6th to October 15th.
(For details about exact road conditions please contact Trafikverket on +46(0)771-24 24 24)
The length of the road is 500 km
Strömsund–Gäddede–Vilhelmina 370 km
Strömsund–Gäddede 132 km
Gäddede–Stekenjokkplatån 87 km
Gäddede–Saxnäs 139 km
Vilhelmina–Strömsund 130 km
Dorotea–Borgafjäll 115 km
Not many people but lots of...
Only 22.000 inhabitants live in this area which is less than 1 person per square km. Cool you might think. Real wilderness away from humans.
A sprint or two along the way is not out of the question since there are other inhabitants here. Bears! This area has the most bears in Sweden.
What to do other than biking?
The first part of the Wilderness Road, through the Valley of Ströms Vattudal and further towards Gäddede is a beautiful stretch of road dotted with waterways the attract anglers from across the globe. Just a few hours’ drive up the mountain you will find the mighty waterfall of Hällingsåfallet, Swedens Grand Canyon.
Hällingsåfallet plunges down a 45 metre high abyss and continues down Sweden’s longest canyon. Close by Hällingsåfallet you will find the unique underwater river of Bjurälven, Sweden’s longest underwater cave and the cave Korallgrottan. Here you can get a guided tour inside the cave and the nearby nature reserve and karst formation, the largest in Scandinavia.
The wilderness Road happens to pass through a Reindeer herding area. The Sami culture and their nomadic lifestyle together with the reindeer have existed in harmony with nature here for thousands of years. The Sami still follow the reindeer through their seven seasons of the year, moving the reindeer between the lower forests and the mountain areas throughout the seasons.
During the summer season in the mountains, the Sami culture and thousands of reindeer mark their presence as they feed along the Wilderness Road. There are two ancient Sami church towns along the Wilderness Road, Fatmomakke and Ankarrede. These towns are ancient meeting places for the Sami and are open for visits during summer.
See you soon we hope!