Mardalsfossen is one of the highest and most impressive waterfall of Norway, located near the Eikesdalsvatnet (Eikesdalen) in the region More og Romsdal.
Eikesdalen is not far away from Åndalsnes but it still takes a two hour drive on road 660/Fv191. First thing you will notice is the Eikesdalsvatnet, a big lake, which is fed by numerous rivers. You have to wait until you are halfway the lake before seeing the huge Mardalsfossen.
Last time I was at Mardalsfossen was July 2017 I stopped several times to makes pictures of the waterfall. It was early in the morning and Mardalsfossen was lying in the shade. Because Mardalsfossen is falling towards the north and is surrounded by mountains the sun hardly reaches the waterfall.
Coming closer to Mardalsfossen, at the end of the lake, suddenly his neighbor waterfall showed up, Ytste Mardølafossen, also nice to see but less impressive. From the restaurant, at the Eikesdalsvatnet, you have a good view on the waterfall.
Driving further you will see a road going right, signed with « Mardalsfossen 2,5 km ». The road is called Mardalsvegen and is a toll road, 30 NOK (in the year 2017). It is possible to pay with a creditcard. At the end of the dust road there is a cafe, tourist shop and information board at the parking. Here you already have a great view on the waterfall.
The walk to Mardalsfossen is pleasant goes slightly up with some lightly steep parts. But I didn’t bothered because the surrounding is beautiful. The walk goes through a forrest, mostly following the river. At the bridge over the river Mardøla you (again) will have a great viewing point. From now on you will see Mardalsfossen in front and Ytste Mardølafossen at the right side of the path.
I walked almost to the bottom of Mardalsfossen where you can feel the power of the river Mardøla plunging down before it ends with great force on the rocks. The walk to the base of Mardalsfossen only takes 30 minutes (1,9 km) and has a descent of 150 meter.
I think the best time to visit Mardalsfossen is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. I was there at noon and the sun was shine right above the waterfall. When it is clouded it doesn’t matter.
In 1970 it was decided that Mardalsfossen would be developed for hydroelectric power which led to major demonstrations. Unfortunately Mardalsfossen stopped plunging down, but every year during the period 20 June to 20 August the floodgates opens.
Originally Mardalsfossen was fifteen time more powerful but since the seventies it is one of the many waterfalls in Norway that is regulated. Nowadays the volume of Mardalsfossen is reduced to 3m³/s which originally was 45m³/s!
Mardalsfossen is one of the better known waterfalls in Norway and is one of the main attractions in Norway. The waterfalls consists of two main drops from which the tallest has a single drop of 297 meter.The total height is more a discussion, depending from where you begin measuring. Often the total height is said to be 705 but I have also seen figures of 655 meter. This doesn’t really matter because Mardalsfossen stays one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Norway.
Eikesdalen is a valley with many big waterfalls and is a visit worthwhile. There is a nice campingsite in Eikesdal, a perfect base to explore the area. Other nice waterfalls, further into the valley: Kjøtåafossen, Ramnåafossen and Aurstaupetfossen. You will see a lot more waterfalls on the road to Aursjøvegen and at the end of the Aursjøvegen.
After Finnset the unpaved road (Aursjøvegen) starts and adventure begins.You have to pay toll for this part of the road. The dirt road follows the river Aura which lead to Aurstaupetfossen, from the road visible form a distance. There isn’t a real trail from the road to the fall but I have seen photo’s with another perspective then from the road.
I drove the Aursjøvegen two times. A beautiful road but its tays a gravel road with parts of poor quality. The first time almost all the way Aursjøvegen was covered in a thick fog. The last time, July 2017, the weather was good and the views on the valley were awesome. Certainly the first part, from Finnset up the mountain. Here you see several waterfalls coming down the mountain but I particularly liked one called Slaettabakken. At first I thought this was the Breimegafossen, but this one is regulated and probably doesn’t exist anymore.
After 1 hour on the Aursjøvegen I wished for a normal road. Luckily at the end there were several waterfalls falling down that distracted me. I was looking forward to my next waterfall, Vinnufjellfossen, one of the highest waterfalls in the world.