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Road 63 (Norway)

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Dec 17, 2021

Road 63 is a 100 km regional route in Møre og Romsdal between Åndalsnes and Skjåk/Stryn via Valldal and Geiranger. The route runs through some of Norway‘s top sights, including the road itself with 3 iconic hairpin roads and an excellent panorama of the famous Geirangerfjord. Previously labeled the “golden route” now it has been named one of 18 national tourist routes. Because of deep snow and avalanches most of the route is available only from late May until November.

This article is an itinerary.
Trollstigen viewpoint and hairpins

. . . Road 63 (Norway) . . .

Snow remaining on the mountain pass in early June

Road 63 runs through Norway’s famous fjord and alpine landscape. There is a surprising variety of landscapes and climates within this relatively short drive. The barren, snowy slopes at the mountain passes is a sharp contrast to the fertile valleys and shores with extensive strawberry and fruit production, as well as corn on the plains at Åndalsnes. From gentle farmland at Rauma river amidst the wild and majestic mountains of Romsdalen, along the deep Isterdalen valley lined with summit chess pieces and through the bold Trollstigen road construction. From the high point of Trollstigen mountain pass the road runs slowly downhill through the fertile Valldal valley until the village and municipal centre (Sylte) at the Storfjord (main or literally “big fjord”). Near the village the road continues by ferry across the fjord to Eidsdal, yet another green valley that at first is narrow and steep then widens around a nice lake beneath jagged mountains at the top. At about 600 meters, the Eagle’s road is the lowest of the mountain passes on this route, but one that offers the famous view of Geirangerfjord from a high point. After the descent to Geiranger the road immediately starts climbing towards the mountain pass. The road is partly steep and with countless hairpin bends. Near the highest hotel (Utsikten) the roads along the famous Flydalsjuvet gorge.

Trollstigen mountain pass opens late May.

Bispen (the Bishop) and Kongen (the King) summits seen from the road
Southern end of road 63 at junction with road 15 in Skjåk

The 1956 completion of Eagle’s road (Ørneveien) between Eidsdal and Geiranger connected two of Norway’s top sights: Trollstigen road and Geiranger road. Geiranger had already been connected by road to Stryn and East Norway via the bold Geiranger road construction (30 hairpin curves) in 1889, while Valldal in 1936 was connected to Åndalsnes through the even more daring Trollstigen road. The Geiranger road was built horse and carriage. 300 men worked 8 summers to complete the road. The Geiranger road has been carefully widened to accommodate cars and increasing traffic, but the road is basically the same as in 1889. Trollstigen was also built by hand, one team for each hairpin – the name of the team is shown on a sign. Even if Trollstigen was designed for cars, hairpins have been widened somewhat to allow longer buses. Trollstigen road is also largely the same as in 1936. When Trollstigen was completed many workers moved on to build the road to Mt Dalsnibba, a detour from Geiranger road to a summit, the Dalsnibba road was completed in 1939, but official opening was in 1948 because of the war.

Until 1956 only a very long ferry ride connected Valldal and Geiranger. After 1956 only the short (10-15 minutes) ferry crossing to Eidsdal was needed on one of Norway’s most dramatic and scenic drive. For instance the trip from Otta via Åndalsnes and Valldal to Geiranger and return to Otta could then easily be done. The Geiranger road at Grotli joined with the first Stryn mountain road (completed 1894) that created a direct road connection to Stryn. The Old Stryn mountain road (Gamle Strynefjellsvegen), the fourth great hairpin road in the area and also a national tourist route, is not part of Road 63.

Around 1912 the first cars were used in the Geiranger-Stryn mountains. These cars were modified so they could handle the hairpin bends and were fitted with larger engines for the steep hills. Before the second world war, Geiranger had a greater density of cars than Oslo.

. . . Road 63 (Norway) . . .

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. . . Road 63 (Norway) . . .