Instructions on Exploring Urho Kekkonen National Park
In Urho Kekkonen National Park, the following are
- walking, skiing, rowing and canoeing, except in the restricted areas
- picking berries and mushrooms
- angling and ice fishing
- The use of the national park is regulated through the Park Regulations.
- The national park has been divided into the following zones to regulate its use and to prevent its wearing down: the main area and the Saariselkä, Nuortti and Kemi–Sompio wilderness areas. The zones have different regulations for hiking, lighting fires and camping. The zones are marked on the Saariselkä-Kiilopää, Sokosti-Suomujoki and Koilliskaira outdoor maps. See further instructions on the Regulations.
- The zones have different regulations on making open fires and camping.
- Hiking in open mire areas of the Pajuaapa, Repoaapa and Lamminaapa mires is prohibited during the nesting season 15 May–15 July.
- Fishing is allowed with the correct permits.
- lighting campfires if the forest fire warning is in effect. During the driest periods it is recommended that fires not be lighted in the fireplaces of the Lapp pole tents and the stoves of the huts so that sparks do not set fire to the dry terrain.
- pets running at large
- taking or damaging trees, bushes, other plants or their parts, or mushrooms other than edible ones
- 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
- driving motor vehicles, except on roads designated for motor vehicles
- leaving waste in the area, or damaging constructions
- Take into account the different seasons when packing equipment and food.
- 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. Further information on equipment and hiking can be obtained from camping books.
- Make sure you pack a first-aid kit.
- A sleeping bag is part of the hiker’s basic gear because the huts in the national park do not contain blankets, except for the reservable huts in the Savukoski area.
- Take with you pots and pans for making food and your own cutlery.
- 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.
- Take with you a V9 battery for the fire alarm, because moisture and the cold weaken the functioning of the battery or someone may have removed the battery.
- There are mattresses in the national park’s reservable huts and turf huts and in the rental hut. Notice that the number of mattresses in all of the huts is not equal to the number of sleeping places.
- There are no mattresses in the open wilderness huts, except for in Anterinmukka Open Wilderness Hut and the open wilderness huts on the Savukoski side of the park.
- The national park’s huts have a stove or fireplace and a gas cooker. There is firewood in the woodshed.
- The lean-to shelters, Lapp Pole Tents and huts have a saw and an axe. Especially winter campers should take with them their own equipment, mentioned above. Spare blades for the saw can be found on the woodshed’s wall.
- The huts usually have a water bucket and scoop, a waste bucket, guest book, fire alarm. The hut’s folder contains e.g. instructions on how to use equipment and how to behave in the hut.
The high seasons for hiking in the national park are the skiing season in November–April and the hiking season in the summer and autumn. The open wilderness huts are often full in the high seasons, so make sure to reserve a place in a reservable hut or turf hut and to keep a tent with you, unless you plan to sleep under the stars.
Mobile Phone Coverage
- Although Finland has a broad network for mobile phones, there are some areas in the park without signal. There may also be some smaller spots where there is interference. If this happens try to climb to a higher place or go into an open area. It may be worth removing the SIM card from your phone and then trying again to make emergency call. Different phones also differ in their coverage.
- If you face an emergency on your hike, e.g. get lost, get injured or observe wildfire, call 112 and report an emergency. More information on how to act in an emergency.
- Day trips are a good way to start out if you are a beginner. When going into the park’s wilderness zones for longer and more demanding treks, you must always have an experienced hiker in your group.
- 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 rescue service will charge for unnecessary searches. Remember to call the emergency number 112 first in an emergency situation.
- 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.
- When following snowmobile tracks be cautious. Getting lost is especially dangerous during winter. Winter trekking is best suited for those with experience.
- Avalanches may occur in gorges.