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The Arctic Lapland Spring: Snowdrifts and Sunlight

We will show you the sunny, shining early spring of Lapland. In April Lapland bathes in light and the masses of snow make it sparkle even more. The bright sunshine, long days and mild temperatures make the arctic Lapland spring the total opposite of the dark winter time.

March and April are the ideal months for skiing on Lapland’s snowy fells, in a vast, endless arctic ladscape. 

Arctic Lapland spring: on the fell top, Ylläs, Lapland

Lapland spring: sun, snow, skis and arctic scenery

What about spending your days outdoors in the wild, cosying up the evenings in front of a fireplace after a hot sauna, waiting for the northern lights to appear in the night sky?

Arctic Lapland spring: campfire in a wilderness hut

Waiting for the Auroras, Northern Lights Village Levi

A Lapland evening 200 km north of the Arctic Circle

Yes, we did that all, and a lot more, during an April week in the stunning north.

We will take you on a journey to Lapland’s snowy forests and rounded fells – to ski in the natural snow of the back country and on the vast networks of tracks.

Arctic Lapland spring: skiing on ski tracks

Skiing on Lapland’s soft, white snow

First a few words about the arctic winter: dark and cold is what most people think winter in Lapland is like. That’s, however, not the whole truth, the arctic winter means many different things.

The Lapland Winter

Mid-winter snow-laden trees

The Lapland midwinter and snow-laden trees

The winter in Lapland is long, six or seven months, all of which have their own features.

The winter begins when we still have the best autumn colors in South Finland. Soon comes the Polar Night when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, at all. It’s a time when darkness and twilight alternate so it’s not dark all the time.

The blanket of snow lights up the scenery, and during day hours there’s a blue moment at the beginning and at the end and a whole palette of pink shades in between. Christmas and New Year fall in the darkest Polar Night period.

Then comes the midwinter and the sun begins to return. In midwinter the weather is extremely cold and there’s a meter of snow. Even trees are covered with snow which looks like a postcard. Winter nights are clear and starry and northern lights light up the fells.

Arctic Lapland spring: crossing a mountain river

Arctic Lapland spring: skiing in the back country

The arctic Lapland spring is the time of snowdrifts and sunlight

In March the sun really returns, rapidly. Snowdrifts reflect the sun rays and make the whole world shine. Then, in April, the snow starts to melt but as there is so much of it, it’s still a long way till summer. April is the ideal time for skiing trips to Lapland.

Where to Go for the Arctic Lapland Spring

In the spring when all snow had gone in the south we just had to get some more of the fun. As Finland is a long and narrow country, at the time grass is getting green in the south winter still goes on in the north.

So we traveled to Lapland’s fell highlands, to the ski resorts of Levi, Pallas and Ylläs:


Where to travel in the arctic Lapland spring: Levi, Pallas and Ylläs

Levi, Ylläs and Pallas together make the main tourist region of Fell Lapland. It’s in the north-western part of Lapland, close to the Swedish border and almost 200 km beyond the Arctic Circle.

To see where in Lapland that is, zoom out the map, and you will see Rovaniemi in the south where the Arctic Circle is. In the north you will see North Norway and the Arctic Sea.

The Ylläs-Pallas region is dominated by a national park, one of the forty in Finland:

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Arctic spring in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Arctic Lapland spring: Jerisjärvi. Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Arctic fells, low-grown taiga forest and vast wilderness areas all together make Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, a stunning place that offers great outdoor activities all year round.

The fells are many in number, forming a chain that stretches over a hundred kilometres from Ylläs in the south to Hetta in the north. That means there really are fells to choose from.

When there’s no snow you can hike along old reindeer trails and conquer top after top. In winter again there are marked ski tracks for all levels of skills, in pure, white snow!

Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, Lapland

Arctic Lapland spring: well-prepared ski tracks of Ylläs

Pallas-Ylllästunturi National Park, Lapland

The highest fells are in the northern part where Pallas has seven fells. Most of which exceed 700 m, the highest of them Taivaskero, 809 m:

The Arctic Spring of Pallas

Skiing on snowy trails, Pallas, Lapland

Skiing on the snow-covered fells of Pallas, Lapland

Pallas is a traditional wilderness resort with very little development. Views from the fells are gorgeous and there’s a lot of open space for cross-country and off-piste skiing. In spring the seven fells of Pallas make a perfect place for exploring an open, treeless landscape on skis.

In April the weather is sunny and warm with day temperatures between +5 and +10. The nights below zero make the snow hard-crusted enough in the mornings to carry your weight. As the snow tends to get softer in the afternoons, the best time for off track skiing are the mornings.

Skiing in the clean air of Pallas:

Pallas hiking tracks in Fell Lapland

Skiing in the fells, Pallas, Lapland

Lapland Hotel Pallas

Pallas fells and the hotel

Pallas only has a couple of downhill slopes and just one hotel serving the area, the traditional Hotel Pallas, Finland’s first fell hotel.

Arctic Lapland spring in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Driving from Pallas to Ylläs: Lake Jerisjärvi

The south part of the national park is the Ylläs area, that, too, has seven fells, the highest of them the majestic Ylläs, 719 m:


Ylläs Ski Resort, Lapland

The ski resort of Ylläs, Lapland

The south part of the arctic national park is a lot more developed than the north.  Due to the pure nature and fine slopes Ylläs has become a favorite skiing center of the Finns and attracts winter visitors like a magnet.

Largely due to the Ylläs ski tourism, the arctic Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park is the most popular in Finland, drawing more than half a million visitors a year. Yet you don’t see much of those visitors except in the ski slope. They are in the fells and forests.

In addition to its 63 downhill slopes Ylläs has 330 km of cross-country skiing tracks, 50 km of snowshoe trails, 100 km of winter trails for biking, and a similar number of winter hiking trails.

Two of the Ylläs downhill slopes reach three km in length, being the longest slopes in the country:

Arctic Lapland spring: on the fell top, Ylläs, Lapland

Arctic Lapland spring: the Ylläs gondola

The arctic spring of Lapland: up and down the snowy fell 

The Two Villages of Ylläs

Ylläs has two villages, Äkäslompolo on the north side and Ylläsjärvi in the south. A scenic fell road links the two villages and makes it easy to move between them.

Alternatively you can do like the locals did in the old days: ski between the villages. That’s what we did, and will do it next year as well. And meet reindeer in the forest.

Arctic Lapland spring: Kesängin Keidas, Äkäslompolo

An Äkäslompolo reindeer, Ylläs

The two Ylläs villages are local villages with many reindeer

The seven rugged fells of Ylläs are a gem. And the valleys, lakes and rivers below them. In addition to the skiing season, the autumn color time makes many people travel to Ylläs. Summers, however, are very quiet, without any reason. Ylläs summers are just lovely, but spring is the best!

More information on Ylläs on the Visit Ylläs website. Read about Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park, one of the oldest in Finland on the Nationalparks.fi website.

Then, located outside the national park, is Levi, the busiest skiing area of the region:

Arctic Lapland Spring: Levi

Levi ski resort, Lapland

The popular ski resort of Levi in the Finnish Lapland

Levi is the largest ski resort in Finland, and served by the nearby Kittilä airport the most popular destination for international tourism to Fell Lapland.

The Levi fell is 531 m high and full of slopes, 43 in number, suitable for all skill levels. For cross-country fanatics the resort offers a huge network or tracks in the surrounding wilderness.

Levi has the best choice of winter tourism activities in all Lapland, ranging from reindeer and dog sled safaris, Lappish dining experiences, family attractions and maybe you will even meet Santa Claus and Rudolf:

Santa Claus reindeer, Levi ski resort, Lapland

A Levi activity park with Santa Claus’ sleigh and reindeer

The resort itself looks like an Alpine village, pleasant and densely built and easy to get around on foot. Bars, restaurants, shops and a spa.

Levi is the only Lapland ski resort where you can easily spend a holiday without having a car. All other destinations are rural and distances within them are long. To get around you will have to walk, ski, bike or use buses.

The arctic Lapland spring of Levi, Finland

Levi, the most popular international destination of Fell Lapland

Read more about Levi and the activities in the area on the Visit Levi website.

Snow is calling! Skiing Time!

Arctic Lapland spring: skiing on the frozen lake

Arctic Lapland spring: ski track signs of Ylläs

Ski track and a massive collection of  trail signs

But now we will have to get skiing. That’s what we came here for, skiing in all its forms.

In the back country and in the wilderness where no tracks exist and on the gorgeous well kept network of tracks. At times we followed snow shoe or husky sled trails, fatbike or snowmobile routes and even reindeer paths, to get where we wanted.

Even in spring when snow gets soft and tracks wet there are many possibilities to move around. To places like this where you can spot Siberian jays, friendly birds asking for a crumb of food:

Arctic Lapland spring: Kesänkijärvi wind shelter

Arctic Lapland spring: skis outside a wilderness cafe

Arctic Lapland spring: back country skiing

Arctic Lapland spring: the Äkäsjoki river

Skiing in the arctic spring of Lapland 

A Lapland bonus are the wind shelters and kota tepee huts along the tracks. They are just perfect places to stop, sit down and warm up around the fire. Have a hot cup and a sandwich from your backpack and listen to the arctic silence, that’s it!. Or, even better if you brought a sausage.

If you didn’t, there are wilderness cafes hiding in the midldle of the foreset that serve warm lunches and hot drinks.

Preparing lunch in Lapland wilderness

Lapland kota wind shelters in Pallas-Yllästunturi National Park

Arctic Lapland spring: sausages on fire

Wilderness outhouse toilets for ladies and men

The arctic Lapland spring, the perfect time for skiing in the wild

So that was cross country.

Lapland Downhill Skiing

At whiles we put on our downhill gear, took the lift up to the fell top and breathed fresh spring air on the way down:

Arctic beauty: snowdrifts on the fell

Cheers! Skiing in April, Ylläs, Lapland

Arctic Lapland spring: skiing in Ylläs, Lapland

Downhill skiing in Ylläs, Lapland

Sunny days in Lapland slopes

So, for us Lapland is the real winter wonderland and skiing is what we do there, winter and spring. Maybe you might want to try the same? No worries, if you’re unexperienced, you can ski on flat areas, and get a lesson or two if needed. Recommend, put on your skis or rent them, and try!

But if you don’t want to ski, what can you do in Lapland?

More Things to Do in Lapland

Arctic Lapland spring: fatbiking in the fells

Winter fatbiking in Lapland snowdrifts

You can ride through the snowy forest with an e-fatbike. Winter biking in the Lappish wilderness is an emerging trend and more and more trails are being created to meet the needs.

Just like skiing, fatbiking lets you discover nature otherwise not accessible. Places to far to walk to and places not accessible by car.

Arctic Lapland spring: snowmobiling in the wild

Arctic Lapland spring: a snowmobile trail

Or ride a snowmobile. There are separate trails for them. Or take a husky ride, huskies just love running, and they run with speed, you will like it!

Another option is a reindeer sled ride, or why not just look at the cute animals and feed them with moss:

Arctic Lapland spring: feeding reindeer

Arctic Lapland spring: a reindeer on the ski track

Reindeer are common in Lapland. You can even meet one on the ski track.

Then what about snowshoe hiking? That’s great fun as well. Or just walk without snow shoes, it’s great to walk along paths covered with snow:

Walking on snowy trails, Pallas, Lapland

Wandering paths covered with snow

Even without having any skis you can take a lift ride to the fell top for a great panorama of the endless wilderness around you. Then take another lift back.

Arctic Lapland spring: taking a ski lift to the fell top

Taking a gondola up to the fell

You can even try ice-fishing on a frozen lake, at the foot of a fell. First you will have to drill a hole in the ice. Then just sit down, be silent, wait and hope for a catch.

Ice fishing is a traditional local activity and was the only way to get fish in winter time.  If you catch a fish, you can prepare it in your cottage. Yes, in your cottage!

Stay in a Lapland Cottage

A typical wooden Lapland cottage

A Lapland cottage built of deadwood

Lapland has great hotels but where many people prefer to stay are the typical Lapland cottages that exist everywhere, hidden in the forests. They are built in original Lapland style, using dried up deadwood as the building material. You can rent a cottage like this.

What is this wood? In the dry Lapland climate with extreme winters trees dry up, lose their bark and yet remain standing for the next hundreds of years. You can see a lot of those dead and still standing trees in Lapland forests. Most of them are pine trees, very old ones.

In Lapland pine can live for up to 500 years, after which the drying process starts, to go on for the next 50 years or so.

Dry pine is valuable building material. It looks fantastic and has good insulation properties so you won’t need more than that to make a house wall! So practical, the same simple wall both outside and inside.

Staying in a Lapland cottage

Cheers to the arctic Lapland spring!

Cheers! We are in a Lapland cottage.

As sauna is an essential part of Finnish culture every cottage has a private sauna and so does it have a fireplace and a porch, maybe with views. At least you will see snow.

I mentioned you can rent this kind of cottages. Where to find one: LomarengasGofinlandbooking.com

The other traditional Lapland building style is the kota tepee style originally used in Sami dwellings. The simple tepee like huts were easy to carry along when moving from one place to another after the reindeer.

Still today the tepee style is used in campsite huts and wind shelters – and added with a glass roof it can be used for northern light watching!

So what about a night in an glass-roofed tepee style hut?

Watching the Northern Lights in a Glass-Roofed Hut

Levi Northern Lights Village, Lapland

Northern Lights Village Levi, an aurora cabin

Staying under a glass roof, to see the stars – and maybe a nightly light show?

An aurora hut or a glass-roofed igloo, what would you call this? Between Levi and Pallas there’s a whole village of them.

All of them face north, that’s where the northern lights appear and you can see them directly from your bed.

Once in Lapland we wanted a northern lights experience and checked into the Levi Northern Lights Village, hoping for a clear night and a lot of sky activity. It was not perfect as a thin layer of clouds appeared after sunset, but finally before 3 a.m. we got them!

The northern lights came out blazing, danced across the sky for a while and as rapidly as they came, they disappeared. You will see our aurora photos below, technically not what we would be proud of, but as a sample of what kind of flames the Lapland night sky will offer.

The village itself was in the taiga forest where we went to ski. There was a main building with a lobby and a restaurant where we dined, and a separate sauna and hot tub area outside. The cabins contain a private bathroom, a sofa corner and an electric fireplace.

Spending a night in an aurora cabin

Northern Lights Village Levi fireplace

Northern Lights Village Levi, the restaurant

Dinner at Northern Lights Village Levi

The Levi Northern Lights Village in an arctic taiga forest

When to See the Northern Lights

When can you see Auroras?

The northern hemisphere Aurora season spans from August until April. That’s the period when the nights are dark. The optimum latitude for Aurora viewing is north of the Arctic Circle.

There is a lot of sky activity around the spring equinox that takes place in March, as well as during the autumn equinox, but in general there’s a good chance to see them throughout the winter provided the night sky is clear.

To make it easier for you, there’s an Aurora app that lets you know when the phenomenon can be seen. I’ve been using the app for years and it predicts the lights very well: My Aurora Forecast & Alert on App Store and on Google Play.

Read about autumn northern lights in our other Lapland post Autumn Trip to Lapland: Reindeer, Ruska and Auroras

Northern Lights Village Levi after sunset

Arctic Lapland spring: northern lights and stars

After a day of light you can watch the night lights

For more information on the aurora cabins located between Levi and Pallas check out the website of the Northern Lights Village Levi.

Moreover, there’s another similar village with glass-roofed igloos at Saariselkä, a pretty long way further north: Northern Lights Village Saariselkä. To read about the region of Saariselkä check out our post Saariselkä, Finland: Ski Tour in Lapland Wilderness.

Our overnight stay in an aurora cabin was made possible by Northern Lights Village Levi. but like always all opinions shared in the blog article are our own.

Arctic Lapland spring: northern lights dancing in the sky

Aurora Borealis seen from an aurora cabin

The arctic Lapland spring shows incredible night lights when it gets dark

So, that was it, the snowy, sunny spring of Lapland, skiing, cottages and auroras. What is your experience of Lapland?

More about Lapland Travel

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