As one drives along the E6 across Dovrefjell, the beautiful mountain Snøhetta rises majestically in the distance. It is characteristic of the scenery in this area, both mystical and challenging.
The landscape around Dovre features both rolling hills, easily accessible, and high, rugged mountains, deep valleys and glaciers. In the areas of Rondane and Snøhetta there are many challenges to be met with mountains over 2000 m. high.
It is in these areas that flocks of reindeer have roamed since time immemorial and reindeer hunting is a tradition, part of everyday life for the locals. In ancient times elaborate traps were made to capture the animals and it is in these very same areas that the reindeer of today still roam. The wild reindeer of Dovrefjell and Rondane are the last of the original mountain reindeer of Europe. They are timid animals, fearful of humans and any outside disturbance, especially at calving time. Locals know to keep their distance at this time and not disturb the flock. This is what remains today of an originally intact mountain eco-system where wild reindeer, polar fox, golden eagle and raven have key roles but where the future of the polar fox is now threatened.
Moskus are charming newcomers to Dovrefjell, having died out in Europe during the last Ice Age.. Moskus calves were introduced to Dovre in the early 1950's. The moskus have thrived in the mountains and the stock has now increased to over 200 animals. They are good natured animals but can be dangerous when approached and their warning signals are not respected.
The area provides a wide and varied selection of plants and birds, in some cases some very rare species. Crane, ruff, hen harrier, eagle, rough legged buzzard and short eared eagle can be spotted in addition to ducks and waders. Small birds like the blue throat are a delight to spot. The shore lark can also be spotted in the higher regions.
The mountain regions of Dovre lie in an area with northern Europe's richest plant life. One of the first spring flowers to be spotted is the spring anemone with its characteristic furry flower. It starts to flower as soon as the snow disappears and somehow manages to survive the harsh climate. Some plants are to be found only in this area, with few exceptions. The little, but easily spotted mountain cowslip, various saxifrage species and mountain avens grow profusely over large areas. Other species such as draba alpina, pimpernel and carex can also be found. At the mountain farm area in Grimsdalen, plants can be found that are dependant on harvesting and grazing for their survival. Species that can be easily spotted in Grimsdalen are the gentianaceae species. Gentiana Nivalis is easily spotted with its bright blue colour when it opens up in good weather. Many rare field mushrooms and lichen can be found in Grimsdalen.
But also on the west side of Gudbrandsdalen, in remoter areas, there is a rich plant life to be found. Here you can find rhododendron lapponicum, a small creeping "bush" with beautiful flowers. It is the only wild rhododendron species in Norway.
Dovre is also renowned for its palsamoors, the most southerly in the country. Palsa designates a low, oval elevation in areas with permafrost, frequently peat bogs, where a perennial ice lens has developed within the soil. In summer, the surface material, if organic, will dry out and provide thermal insulation. These palsa are vulnerable, if disturbed over any lenght of time, the top layer of insulation will break down resulting in the thawing of the ice core and the disappearance of the palsa.
Not long after the Saint King, Olav Haraldsson, fell in battle at Stiklestad in 1030, Nidaros became a popular goal for people seeking to redeem their souls at his shrine. Olav became Norway's patron saint, and his reputation shone far beyond the borders of his country. The Pilgrim Way through Dovre, crossing Dovrefjell, is the most magnificant part of the journey. Signposting the way for today's pilgrims, the path is marked with posts carrying the Pilgrim Way logo.