Allison Green, the author of the article, standing in front of the landscape of the Korouoma Nature Reserve with its sheer cliffs, icefalls, and evergreen trees

Korouoma Canyon & Its Frozen Waterfalls: How to Get There from Rovaniemi in 2024

Taking a day trip to the rugged, icy landscape of the breathtaking Korouoma Canyon is one of the best ways to spend a winter day in Rovaniemi.

This deep canyon goes up to 130 meters (427 feet) at its deepest point, stretching 30 kilometers long with beautiful views all along its length.

For day trippers from Rovaniemi in winter, the main place of interest is Koronjää Trail, a 5-kilometer trail which is the natural reserve’s only option for trails in the winter. 

A sign for the Koronjaa trail part of the way through the hike in the Finnish lapland forest
Walking along the Koronjää Trail
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This trail brings you to a panoramic viewpoint where you can see the frozen waterfalls from above!

After that, you’ll be following the trail to the bottom of the canyon, passing frozen-over icy rivers and wooden bridges along the way, then crossing back across the river to the fire area before heading back to your starting point.

In the summer, there’s also Piippukallion Pihaus Trail (5 kilometers in length) and the Korouoma Hiking Trail (20 km), but these options are strictly seasonal.

In a hurry? This post goes over all you need to know about visiting Korouoma Canyon in depth, but if you just want the quick information, here’s what you really need to know!

How to Get There from Rovaniemi: By rental car (1.5 hour drive) or by guided tour — there is no public transportation to Korouoma Canyon.

Hike Difficulty and Length: 5 km (3.1 miles) and easy-moderate difficulty, with some elevation gain (around 130m/420 feet). There are some icy patches often on the sloped portions of the hike.

Time for Hike: 1.5 hours each way to and from Rovaniemi and 2-3 hours for the hike itself, leaving ample time to enjoy the views.

The Frozen Waterfalls of Korouoma Canyon

Tree with snow covering it in front of an ice covered waterfall in Finnish Lapland's beautiful Korouoma Canyon
Close up of the Brown River ice fall in Korouoma Canyon, outside of Rovaniemi

While the peaceful Korouoma Nature Reserve can be visited year-round, it’s an especially popular destination in winter when its waterfalls ice over and create frozen waterfalls stuck in time.

As many as 20 icefalls form each year, some as tall as 70 meters (230 feet)!

Along Koronjää Trail, there are three main waterfalls that tumble over the high cliffs of the canyon, freezing over in winter and becoming icefalls. 

The three main icefalls you’ll encounter on your hike are named Charlie Brown, Mammoth, and Brown River.

Charlie Brown (Jaska Jokunen in Finnish) is so-named for its dark brown color, which comes from the mineral deposits that get caught up in the water source as it runs across the iron-rich landscape.

Allison and the 'Charlie Brown' ice fall in Rovaniemi's Korouoma Canyon
The placard of ‘Charlie Brown’ aka Jaska Jokunen icefall

The next, Mammoth Fall (Mammuttiputous) is a beautiful blue hue, as the water source for the icefall comes from a spring nearby and doesn’t have the same opportunity to pick up iron into the water before it freezes.

The final waterfall we encountered on the trail was Brown River (Ruskea Virta). Like Charlie Brown, the water source for the icefall contains lots of iron, giving it a reddish-brown hue that is reflected in its name.

Right next to the Brown River icefall, you’ll find an open fire area where you can enjoy hot drinks, sausages, and anything else you can throw on a grill, surrounded by breathtaking scenery!

My Experience Visiting Korouoma Canyon from Rovaniemi

View looking from above deep into the canyon below, with people looking small in perspective as seen from an up high angle
People at the bottom of the canyon, as seen from above

I visited Korouoma Canyon in January 2024 as a day trip from Rovaniemi and it was one of my favorite experiences of my time in Finnish Lapland!

I had seen frozen waterfalls once before, when visiting Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland, and I was excited to have the opportunity to see them again!

As Korouoma Canyon is quite far from Rovaniemi and there isn’t any public transportation directly to the reserve, I opted to take a tour led by a professional guide. 

I absolutely loved the tour I took (this is the exact one here): it was such a lovely experience to walk through the beautiful Arctic nature, taking in the unforgettable views of the icefalls, and enjoying a warm snack around the fire at the lean-to.

Fire area with an open shelter for warming up and grilling food
Nothing better than wood-fired barbecue after a hike!

On my morning tour, we left Rovaniemi city center around 9:30 AM after everyone got set up with the necessary winter clothing at the office. 

If you are worried about not having the appropriate clothing for the tour, you can borrow a thermal overall suit as well as snow boots with good traction from the office, free of charge. 

Occasionally, if there is deep snow, you might be offered snowshoes, but this wasn’t necessary for when we traveled to Korouoma Canyon. 

In fact, it was really icy when I visited, so I was glad to have snow spikes fitted on my boots, as there were downhill sections of the hike that were quite slippery.

So slippery, in fact, that often the group (and myself as well) elected to slide down the path on our butts down the icy path! It was actually rather fun.

Someone sliding down the trail instead of walking because it is very icy. Two people on the path, there is a blue sky, lots of snow on the ground
Sliding down the icy path (on purpose)!

We arrived at Korouoma Nature Reserve (sometimes incorrectly referred to as Korouoma National Park) a little after 11, since we stopped 45 minutes into the drive for a coffee/pastry break and to use the restroom if needed.

The 5-kilometer hike took about 3 hours since we stopped several times at the icefalls to take pictures and admire the stunning snowy scenery of Korouoma Canyon… and enjoy a chocolate pick-me-up as we admired the frozen landscape.

Along the way, you might spot some different Arctic animal species, like wild hare, martin, river otter, reindeer, or a variety of birdlife.

We didn’t see any animals during our hike — after all, Arctic Finland is a huge area, and this is a rather high foot traffic area — but we did see footprints from a river otter and a reindeer, who had come to snack on lichen on a fallen tree.

Footprints from an animal left in the snow
Footprints from an animal in the nature reserve

After the hike and taking photos of all the different icefalls, we headed to the campfire spots, where we sat at an open wilderness hut and had sausages with Lappish bread and mustard and roasted marshmallows for dessert. 

After our campfire snack, we had a steep uphill hike back up to the top of the canyon and the parking lot, so it was nice to have a rest right before it. 

It wasn’t a particularly difficult hike, but it is definitely a heart-pumper, so you’ll want to be in decent shape for it!

If you want to book the same tour that I did, I definitely recommend it! You can book here:

Tips for Visiting Korouoma Canyon

Allison Green wearing winter clothes (jacket, hat, scarf, boots) and yellow dry bag, standing in front of the icefall called Brown River in Korouoma Canyon in Finnish Lapland
The Brown River icefall in Korouoma Canyon

Be aware that it can often be bitterly cold in Korouoma Canyon, and even colder (up to 5° C difference!) at the bottom of the canyon, where all the cold air congregates.

For example, on the day we did our Korouoma Canyon tour, it was about -1° C when we started the hike and it was about -6° C once we reached the lowest point of the canyon!

Be aware that the hike involves some uphill and downhill sections, since you are descending into the heart of a canyon and then ascending above it. 

The deepest point of the canyon is 130 meters or about 430 feet deep; therefore, you’ll be doing about that much elevation gain/loss throughout the hike.

I didn’t find it particularly strenuous, and I’m in moderate shape… I don’t hike often, but I’m capable of doing it when I do.

Forest in Korouoma Canyon with a small outhouse with two bathroom toilets
The prettiest outhouse I ever saw, in Korouoma Canyon

However those with heart conditions, pregnant travelers, etc. might find it to be a bit strenuous. Keep your own personal health and capabilities in mind when deciding whether or not to visit Korouoma Canyon from Rovaniemi.

Also, be aware that it can get really icy, especially on steep portions of the trail. At times, our group elected to sit down and slide rather than walk and risk falling. 

You’ll absolutely want to wear waterproof pants for the tour, so that this can be an option for you — you definitely don’t want to get wet during the hike!

Allison Green, the author of the article, standing in front of the landscape of the Korouoma Nature Reserve with its sheer cliffs, icefalls, and evergreen trees

Be sure to dress warmly: you’ll need mittens or gloves (as certain portions of the hike require you to hold onto an icy rope as you descend), thermal base layers (merino wool is ideal), waterproof pants, a hat that covers your ears, a parka or a thermal overall suit, snow boots, and wool socks.

A scarf, snow spikes for your boots, and hand or foot warming packets are optional but not necessary; it depends on your tolerance for cold weather.

Getting to Korouoma Canyon from Rovaniemi

Beautiful tall tree standing up against the backdrop of Korouoma Canyon with tiered ice falls
Beautiful snow-covered trees in Korouoma in January

It’s definitely possible to visit Korouoma Canyon without a guided tour, but you would need to rent a car in Rovaniemi.

You can rent cars at the Rovaniemi airport, but you’ll want to book online in advance as there is limited supply, especially during the winter.

Travel Tip: I always use Discover Cars when renting a car — their interface is easy to use, their full coverage insurance is the best deal you can find, and they search over 500 rental companies (including small local ones) to find the best price for your rental, not limiting you to only the big international names.

If you’re going to drive in Rovaniemi, you need to be fully confident in your ability to handle hazardous winter road conditions.

Be honest with yourself about your driving abilities.There’s almost always snow and ice on the roads in the winter: this is the Arctic circle, after all.

View of a sunburst over the canyon rim at Korouoma Canyon in the winter in January
View from the panoramic viewpoint in Korouoma

Plus, there aren’t accessible shoulders on the highway towards Korouoma as all the snowfall has been pushed to the sides of the road by the snow plows.

If you don’t feel comfortable renting a car and driving, the best option (and the one I did) is taking a guided tour with a small group.

The tour I took included transportation to and from Korouoma Canyon, which is located a 1.5-hour drive outside of Rovaniemi. 

If you’re staying at one of the hotels outside the Rovaniemi City Center, such as in the Santa Claus Village or the Ounasvaara vicinity, pick-up and drop-off is included in the standard price.

For places outside the immediate Rovaniemi area, such as Apukka Resort, Arctic Snow Hotel, and Vaattunki Wilderness Resort, there is an additional transfer fee added. 

For those in the city center, the tour company asks that you meet them at their office as their starting point, as the tour company no longer offers city center pickups in an effort to be more sustainable and use less fuel.

Ice Climbing in Korouoma Canyon

People ice climbing on one of the ice falls in Korouoma Canyon
Watching ice climbers work their magic!

While many people visit Korouoma Canyon for its beautiful nature and unforgettable views, it’s also the ideal place in Finnish Lapland to try your hand at ice climbing!

Ice climbing should only be done by those with the skills and knowledge to do so safely, led by an outdoor guide who understands the area’s landscape and how to explore it safely.

This tour offers a full-day ice climbing experience, including transit to and from Rovaniemi to Korouoma Canyon. 

You’ll be led by an expert climbing instructor, who will provide all necessary gear and equipment (besides the appropriate warm clothes, which you are responsible for) and the opportunity to climb the ice walls two times!

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