Sleep Under the Northern Lights in Abisko National Park

Sleep Under the Northern Lights in Abisko National Park

Rate this Adventure Abisko Östra Station

Distance

6.2 Miles

Elevation Gain

750 Feet

Activities

Camping, Photography, Skiing, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Winter

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Jonathon Reed

Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildlife

Take the train to a small town on the northern edge of Sweden. Ski into the wilderness of the Kungsleden and spend a night beneath the mysterious beauty of the northern lights.

Abisko, Sweden, is widely regarded as the best place in the world to view the northern lights. The atmospheric effect of Lake Torneträsk and the surrounding mountains give the area a microclimate that locals call the 'blue hole,' meaning that Abisko rarely experiences any inclement weather or cloud cover at night. Combine that with low light pollution and the untempered wilderness of Lapland and you've got a world-class winter destination.

Start by making your reservations. Buy a return train ticket from Stockholm C to Abisko Östra on SJ and book a bed at the Abisko Fjallturer hostel. I recommend any break you have in March that coincides with the new moon. Stay as long as you can (I stayed for five nights), because you won't be guaranteed to have solar activity every night. There were a few travellers that came and went while I was there that weren't able to see any spectacular auroras because they didn't stay long enough.

DAYS 1-2: TAKE THE TRAIN
Begin your journey by riding the train 18 hours from Stockholm to Abisko Östra. I recommend taking the train overnight and arriving midday the next day. When you get there you'll find that Abisko is a very small town and it isn't hard to navigate. You'll see Godisfabriken Abisko, the local grocery shop, once you get out of the station. Buy some food and then hike south underneath the railway to the red-painted Abisko Fjallturer hostel on the edge of the Lapland wilderness. This will be your base camp for the next several nights.

DAYS 3-4: STAY AT THE HOSTEL
Spend a few nights getting used to the challenge. Stock up on ingredients for hot drinks. Practice using the Space Weather Prediction Centre Aurora Forecast to predict the aurora at night. During the days, ski into Lapland south of the hostel, or across Lake Torneträsk to the north. If you haven't before, practice setting up your tent on the snow. 

DAYS 5-6: SKI INTO LAPLAND
When you're ready—or when the aurora forecast is high, or when you don't have a bed at the hostel anymore—head out into Abisko National Park to spend the night outside. Thanks to the Allemansrätten law, you can camp anywhere in the Swedish wilderness.

Eat a warm, hearty supper, then pack your things and go once the sun starts to set. Follow the snowmobile route beside the highway west 2.7 km to the Kungsleden Trail, which begins at the Abisko Turiststation. From there, just ski south until you feel that you're far enough away from the light pollution of Abisko. I skied about 5 km until I found a clearing that I thought would work. Both the snowmobile track and the Kungsleden are well-used in the winter, so unless you just had a dump of powder, there should be ski tracks to follow.

I recommend setting up camp but then skiing around for a while to stay warm and active. Get back to your site once it starts to get dark, and then all that's left to do is wait. If you've played your cards right, you will soon be alone in the wilderness of Lapland with the aurora borealis dancing above you. 

On top of your regular winter camping gear, I recommend a thermos of something hot to drink, a small light to illuminate your tent and a small platform (could be cardboard) to stand on while you take photos.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Distance

6.2 Miles

Elevation Gain

750 Feet

Activities

Camping, Photography, Skiing, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Winter

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Jonathon Reed

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Hike on Lake Torneträsk

Adventure

Backpack from Abisko to Nikkaluokta on the Kings Trail

Adventure

Hike in the Winter Wonderland of Midnattsolstigen

Adventure

Hiking and Climbing Stetind

More Nearby Adventures

Related Stories

gear

Patagonia's First Ever Product Collaboration: Danner & Patagonia Wading Boots

Debuted at Summer Outdoor Retailer 2018, Patagonia's newest fly fishing products are now available.

activities

The World's Gnarliest Bike Race: 1000+ Miles on the Silk Road

"How tough it will be cannot be understated, but as Mike Hall once said, 'Nothing that’s worth an...

photography

How Landscape Photographers Can Improve at Leave No Trace

We often talk about “leaving no trace” in the outdoors. You don't take anything from the wilderne...

how-to

How to Find Adventure Buddies in a Digital Age

The best adventures are the ones that are shared.

More Stories