Rock paintings, crystal-clear creeks, an expansive natural lake, and miles upon miles of trails for hiking and cycling are among the highlights of Finland’s newest national park, which opened in the northeast corner of the country this past weekend.
The 27,182-acre open space, formally named Hossa National Park, is the Scandinavian country’s 40th; it was designated in part to honor 100 years of Finnish independence from Russia and Sweden.
According to the official website, the park has a number of one-of-a-kind features worth exploring.
One such feature: the Värikallio Rock Paintings, which date back to the Stone Age, meaning they are at least 4,000 years old. There are more than 60 identifiable figures in the set, and they appear on a sheer rock wall that emerges from a chilly lake. Experts think whoever painted them must have done so while standing on a boat or in the winter when the lake was iced over. Today, visitors without watercraft can venture out along a floating metal walking bridge and platform to view the paintings up close.
Another big attraction: Julma-Ölkky, one of Finland’s largest canyon lakes. Locals have fished and kayaked the lake for centuries. Today, visitors can rent boats at the Hossa Visitor Centre. The park also features a number of suspension bridges that span creeks and other waterways.
For visitors who want to spend the night, the park has 14 lean-to shelters, five open wilderness huts, and a handful of campgrounds. There are campfire sites and chopped firewood next to each lean-to shelter. The park also has cabins for rent.
Oh, and because it’s Finland, there are saunas. Guests who rent the cabins have access to one near the service building, while a smoke sauna elsewhere in the park provides a different kind of experience. These facilities are available year-round, even in the dead of winter.