Kjelfossen

Gudvangen / Flam / Stalheim, Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway

About Kjelfossen


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2005-06-27
Date last visited: 2019-07-23

Waterfall Latitude: 60.8745
Waterfall Longitude: 6.84894

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Kjelfossen (I believe it’s pronounced like “SHELL-foss-un”) was considered to be one of the tallest waterfalls in Norway, which was something that was impressed upon us during our pre-trip research prior to our first trip to Norway in 2005.

It turned out that upon seeing this falls in person, we started to appreciate its full height only after seeing its uppermost tiers from the terrace of the Stalheim Hotel.

Kjelfossen_005_06272005 - Kjelfossen from its bottom as we saw it on our first trip to Norway in 2005
Kjelfossen from its bottom as we saw it on our first trip to Norway in 2005

When we went into the Nærøydal Valley and saw the falls from its base, it seemed like the uppermost tiers weren’t as visible.

This was due to cliff obstructions as the falls appeared to be smaller than what the literature had us believe (though it was still very tall even from this perspective).

So it was one of those cases where we had to appreciate the falls from two different perspectives to get the whole picture.

Based on my interpretation of Norgeskart, I’m measuring the cumulative height of Kjelfossen can be between 700m and 810m over the steepest run of the falls (but admittedly, it’s hard to tell where the exact start and end is to the falls from the map).

Some sources in the literature have said that the falls had a 755m cumulative height.

Stalheimskleiva_012_06272005 - Kjelfossen seen at a distance from the Stalheim Hotel during our first trip to Norway in 2005. We were a little confused about whether this was the uppermost drop of the waterfall or if it merely one of the lower segmented drops where the other segments were obstructed from our line of sight
Kjelfossen seen at a distance from the Stalheim Hotel during our first trip to Norway in 2005. We were a little confused about whether this was the uppermost drop of the waterfall or if it merely one of the lower segmented drops where the other segments were obstructed from our line of sight

The drop that we noticed from the Stalheim Hotel could have a 200m height.

However, we were a bit confused about whether this was one of the segmented drops we’d see at the bottom (like the topmost image on this page), or if it had its own drop possibly above the more visible segments visible within the valley.

As for the waterfall’s longevity, based on our pair of visits to the waterfall (once in late June 2005 and again in late July 2019) the falls seemed to have similar appearance, which suggested to us that it had a surprisingly permanent flow.

I found this surprising because of how thin the falls appeared, but from looking at the maps, the falls was fed by a series of lakes called the Kjelfossvotni (literally the Kjelfoss Lakes), which ultimately drained over the falls.

Distant Perspective of Kjelfossen

Stalheimskleiva_009_07232019 - Looking into the beautiful and narrow Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Looking into the beautiful and narrow Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace

As mentioned above, viewing the uppermost drop of Kjelfossen required us to get a distant view from the terrace of the Stalheim Hotel.

From this vantage point, we couldn’t see (or at least make out) the lower segmented drops that you see in the photo at the top of this page.

So apart from signs letting us know that was Kjelfossen, we otherwise would have never figured out that it was the same waterfall that we would see from the bottom (which we’ll get into in the next section below).

In any case, the Stalheim Hotel was originally in Voss before the owner moved it nearby its current location in 1885.

Stalheimskleiva_029_07232019 - Closer look at the bunker or shelter with 'Lorelei' written above its entrance beneath the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Closer look at the bunker or shelter with ‘Lorelei’ written above its entrance beneath the Stalheim Hotel Terrace

The hotel featured this “backyard” with picnic tables, a little bunker with “Lorelei” written above it, and of course, sweeping views into the Nærøydal Valley.

The panoramas from here had been well-known, but apparently, it also attracted the likes of Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany.

By the way, the bunker with “Lorelei” on it reminded me of something we noticed in Germany’s Romantic Rhine, and we wondered if there was tie in with that, especially during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Norway in World War II.

The Base of Kjelfossen

The bottom of Kjelfossen pretty much sat towards the mouth of the Nærøydal by the junction to the town of Gudvangen as well as near one end of the 11.5km-long Gudvanga Tunnel (Gudvangatunnelen).

Naeroydalen_005_jx_06272005 - Julie noticed a few other strandy waterfalls as we were approaching Kjelfossen while driving within Nærøydal Valley
Julie noticed a few other strandy waterfalls as we were approaching Kjelfossen while driving within Nærøydal Valley

Once we were at the bottom of Kjelfossen and looked up from it (see directions below), we witnessed what appeared to be a series of at least three main segments or strands of the waterfall.

These segments tumbled side-by-side before converging at the base of the waterfall.

It was a fairly neck-cranking view to say the least, which kind of further attested to the lofty height measurements that had been touted in the literature.

At least two of the strands appeared to have names – Store Kjelfoss (Big Kjel Falls; the one on the left in the photo above) and Vetle Kjelfoss (the one in the middle).

The strand on the far right didn’t appear to have a formal name.

Stalheimskleiva_009_07232019 - Looking into the beautiful and narrow Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Looking into the beautiful and narrow Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace

By the way, the uppermost (or leftmost?) drop seen from the Stalheim Hotel was apparently named just Kjelfoss, which further confirmed our suspicions that it was the main part of the waterfall.

For both of these views, there was a minimal amount of walking so we tended to think of this waterfall as a roadside attraction.

In addition to the roadside views from the E16, we also viewed parts of this waterfall both from the Viking Town in Gudvangen as well as from the Nærøyfjord Cruise.

Authorities

Kjelfossen resides in the Aurland Municipality near Gudvangen in Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Naeroydalen_010_07232019 - Context of Kjelfossen and some of the buildings sitting below it at the floor of the Nærøydal Valley as seen during our July 2019 visit. This photo and the next several shots came on this day
Naeroydalen_021_07232019 - While walking from the Shell Gas Station to improve the views of Kjelfossen, I got this view in the direction of Gudvangen while crossing a bridge
Naeroydalen_026_07232019 - Context of Kjelfossen and some of the buildings sitting below it at the floor of the Nærøydal Valley
Naeroydalen_049_07232019 - Direct view of Kjelfossen with someone else checking out the falls from the other bus stop within the floor of the Nærøydal Valley
Naeroydalen_054_07232019 - Fully contextual view of Kjelfossen from the floor of the Nærøydal Valley
Naeroydalen_084_07232019 - Kjelfossen kind of gave us the excuse to check out Viking Town for something a little different and more for our daughter to enjoy while in the Gudvangen area of the Nærøydal Valley
Naeroydalen_113_07232019 - Context of Kjelfossen backing the Viking Town in Gudvangen
Naeroydalen_130_07232019 - Another look at Kjelfossen backing the Viking Town in Gudvangen at the floor of the Nærøydal Valley
Naeroydalen_158_07232019 - One of the tall ephemeral waterfalls we noticed while driving along the E16 through the Nærøydal Valley en route to the Stalheim Hotel
Naeroydalen_161_07232019 - Part of Stalheimsfossen as seen from the E16 near the head of the Nærøydal Valley
Stalheimskleiva_003_07232019 - Context of the Stalheim Hotel Terrace with the Nærøydal Valley in the background
Stalheimskleiva_007_07232019 - Zoomed in view of Kjelfossen (or part of it) from the Stalheim Hotel
Stalheimskleiva_013_07232019 - Context of the Stalheim Hotel Terrace view of the Nærøydal Valley in as much context as I could get in one photo
Stalheimskleiva_024_07232019 - Context of Kjelfossen and the floor of the Nærøydal Valley from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Stalheimskleiva_028_07232019 - Looking towards the entrance of the Lorelei bunker or shelter at the Stalheim Hotel Terrace
Stalheimskleiva_033_07232019 - Last look at the Nærøydal Valley from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace on our second visit to Norway in 2019
Stalheimskleiva_017_jx_06272005 - This was the view of Nærøydal Valley from the Stalheim Hotel in late June 2005.  Note there was another tall waterfall to the topright of this picture. This photo and the remaining photos in this gallery took place on this day
Stalheimskleiva_003_jx_06272005 - This was the more unobstructed view of Nærøydal Valley from the Stalheim Hotel on our 2005 visit to Norway.  Note the context of Kjelfossen way in the distance
Kjelfossen_001_jx_06272005 - Angled view of Kjelfossen as we were approaching it from within Nærøydal Valley in 2005
Kjelfossen_002_jx_06272005 - A slightly more centered view of Kjelfossen from one of the handful of pullouts before it within Nærøydal Valley as seen in our first visit in 2005
Kjelfossen_004_jx_06272005 - Julie photographed me taking a photo of Kjelfossen on our first trip to Norway in 2005
Kjelfossen_002_06272005 - Contextual full frontal view of Kjelfossen as seen in 2005
Kjelfossen_006_06272005 - Contextual view of Kjelfossen from one of the easternmost pullouts

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In this write-up, we’ve identified two main ways of experiencing Kjelfossen.

One was from the Stalheim Hotel‘s Terrace.

The other was from the bottom of the waterfall within the Nærøydal Valley.

Naeroydalen_006_07232019 - Looking back at the Shell Station nearest Kjelfossen within Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley)
Looking back at the Shell Station nearest Kjelfossen within Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley)

We’ll describe how to do both of the above options from Flåm or Voss.

The other ways of experiencing Kjelfossen can be experienced easily from the landmarks noted in these driving directions.

From Flåm to Gudvangen, and then to the Stalheim Hotel

From Flåm, it was merely a matter of going onto the E16 road, then driving west into the tunnels.

After about 18km, the E16 exited the Gudvangatunnelen, and we parked the car at the car park within the aptly-named (if you get the Norwegian pronunciation of the falls) Shell Gas Station on the right.

The bus stops with the most direct views of Kjelfossen was another 400m further to the west on the E16, just past the turnoff for Gudvangen.

Naeroydalen_028_07232019 - Context of the bus stops closest to Kjelfossen within the Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) as seen from the Shell Gas Station
Context of the bus stops closest to Kjelfossen within the Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley) as seen from the Shell Gas Station

It was possible to briefly stop the car at the bus stops to take pictures, but you can’t remain parked here long term since buses do use these pullouts to pick-up or drop-off passengers.

Overall, this drive would take about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic.

For the Viking Town experience, the entrance to the village was adjacent to the Shell Gas Station.

For the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord Cruise, you have options (e.g. cruise one way and take the bus the other way) to start and end in Flåm or to start and end in Gudvangen.

Continuing on, we would continue on the E16 for another 11km or so before turning right onto the signposted Stalheimsvegen, which led to the Stalheim Hotel in another 1.2km.

Stalheimskleiva_002_07232019 - The car park at the Stalheim Hotel
The car park at the Stalheim Hotel

This added another 15 minutes to the drive.

From Voss to the Stalheim Hotel, and then to Gudvangen

Going in the other direction from Voss, we would drive north on the E16 for about 34km to the Stalheimsvegen before the Stalheimtunnelen.

Once on the Stalheimsvegen, we then drove the remaining 1.2km to the Stalheim Hotel.

After the Stalheim Hotel, we could take the Stalheimskleiva serpentine road (described in the Stalheimsfossen page) or backtrack to the E16 and then drive the remaining 13km to either the bus stops or the Shell station by Gudvangen.

This entire drive would typically take about 45 minutes without stops, but I’d imagine there would be stops (like at the Stalheim Hotel, or the Gudvangen area) so you’ll probably want to budget more time.

Naeroydalen_047_07232019 - Context of one of the bus stops and the bottom of the Kjelfossen Waterfall from within Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley)
Context of one of the bus stops and the bottom of the Kjelfossen Waterfall from within Nærøydalen (The Nærøydal Valley)

For geographical context, Flåm was about 15km (about 15 minutes drive) south of Aurland, 20km (under 30 minutes drive) east of Gudvangen, 41km (over 30 minutes drive) south of Lærdal, 66km (an hour drive) northeast of Voss, about 72km (an hour drive) southwest of Årdalstangen, 284km (over 3.5 hours drive with a ferry crossing) northeast of Bergen, and 312km (over 5 hours drive) northwest of Oslo.

Examining Kjelfossen from the bus stop closest to the turnoff for Gudvangen


360 degree sweep showcasing the waterfalls around Kjelfossen including the main falls itself as seen from a bridge upstream from Gudvangen by the Shell station


Multiple sweeps checking out the view from the Stalheim Hotel Terrace, which includes a zoom-in on the Kjelfossen waterfall

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Tagged with: naeroydal valley, naeroydalen, stalheim, stalheim hotel, terrace, sogn og fjordane, hordaland, norway, waterfall, gudvangen, flam, tall, aurland



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