About Geisfossen, Ryefossen, and the Jostedalen Waterfalls
Geisfossen (I’ve also seen it called Geisdalsfossen) was a series of four segmented waterfalls plunging side-by-side each other. It seemed like it was the most famous of the many waterfalls we saw in Jostedal Valley (Jostedalen; pronounced “YOO-steh-doll-un”) as it was probably the nearest waterfall that we encountered to the impressive and accessible Nigardsbreen Glacier. Julie and I targeted this waterfall because our Statens Kartverk Road Atlas of Norway marked this as one of the waterfalls in this region. Our experience with that road atlas had been pretty spot on in that identified waterfall icons in there tended to be significant waterfalls.
In any case, Julie and I took advantage of several pullouts and road shoulders to get out of the way of traffic, get out of the car, and enjoy the falls. Perhaps the only caveat to doing this was that no matter which spot we stopped for, we always had to contend with wire fences below and power lines above. From looking at the maps, this waterfall was sourced by the Spørteggbreen Glacier so it could very well have somewhat reliable flow throughout the year for as long as the glacier would remain substantial enough to keep feeding the Geistdøla watercourse.In a way, Geisfossen was our waterfalling excuse to talk about the many other waterfalls we encountered throughout Jostedalen. Indeed, first and foremost of these other waterfalls was the Ryefossen waterfall (also spelled Ryfossen). My Norwegian dictionary translated the word ry to mean “fame” or “reknown” which would suggest the falls might be translated as the Famous Falls. However, the alternate spelling rye meant “rug” suggesting the translation would be the Rug Falls. Neither of these names seemed to make sense, but in any case, it was a very tall and impressive waterfall on the Rydøla stream that appeared to drain from the highlands of Rydalen before plunging a reported 335m to the Jostedøla River, which was the river that ran within Jostedalen.
Once again, our trusty Veiatlas Norge (Norway Road Atlas) by SK (Statens Karvtverk) also marked an icon where this waterfall was supposed to be so we were looking out for it while driving in Jostedalen. In the pair of passes that we took to get a look at this waterfall, Julie took photos from the car on the first pass (largely because we couldn’t find any suitable road shoulders or pullouts). On the second pass on the return drive heading south in Jostedalen, we managed to find a somewhat obscure and unsigned pullout a little bit north of the direct view of the falls. I had to brave the traffic in order to get a cleaner look at the falls away from the tall bushes that were in the way.
Finally, there were also countless other waterfalls that tumbled down the walls of Jostedalen. Since there were simply too many waterfalls to count, we couldn’t identify them individually. So, I got a little lazy and just clumped these waterfalls on this page and broad-brushed them with the moniker “the Jostedalen Waterfalls.”
Now while this page was about the waterfalls of Jostedal Valley, I think the real claim to fame of this valley and the general area (which seemed to be known as Glacier Country or breheimen) was indeed the glaciers. We ended up getting fairly close to the Nigardsbreen Glacier, which was about 8-10km north of Geisfossen. However, there were other roads and side valleys that we didn’t explore that also seemed to provide access to other glacier termini. The thing with these other glaciers was that they were all side arms of the vast Jostedalsbreen Glacier, which was said to be the largest glacier in Continental Europe.
It turned out that Nigardsbreen was just the first glacier belonging to Jostedalsbreen that we ended up visiting on our June-July 2005 Norway trip. We’d visit at least one other one a few days later as well as encounter a few more along the road the next day. The area we covered over the next few days was several hundreds of kilometers so that ought to provide some perspective as to how big the Jostedal Glacier really was!
We will describe the directions to the waterfalls on this page from the junction of the Road 604 and Road 55 in the town of Gaupne. We’ll discuss them in order as we made the drive north from Gaupne into Jostedalen along Route 604.
First up as we drove north of Gaupne was Ryefossen, which was about 7km north of Gaupne on the Road 604. While the roadside pullouts were non-existent on this narrow road, I recalled that we did spot one small pullout at a bend in the road a short distance past the falls. The view was obstructed from there, but I was able to walk along the road a bit to get a cleaner view.
After Ryefossen, for the next 15km or so, we spotted many other waterfalls which we couldn’t identify individually. Thus, we got a little lazy and just clumped them into this page.
At about 28km north on Route 604 of Gaupne, that was when we finally spotted the impressive Geisfossen. Even though we only got roadside views on the Road 604, the maps seemed to suggest there were narrower local roads leading closer to the falls, but we didn’t explore those alternate approaches so we can’t say more about them.
Finally at about 5km north of Geisfossen was the signposted turnoff for Nigardsbreen and the helmet-shaped Glacier Center (Breheimsenteret). We turned left to leave the Road 604 and took this turnoff for about 600m before turning left and driving for the next 3km on an unpaved and narrower local road leading us closer to the Nigardsbreen Glacier.
For context, Skjolden (at the head of the Luster Fjord or Lustrafjorden) was about 124km (or 2.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing) north of Flåm, 346km (about 5.5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo, and 288km (over 4.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Bergen.
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