Nordvest-Spitsbergen national park

The national park covers the northwestern corner of Spitsbergen. The area is characterised by big inland glaciers and a typical alpine landscape, and is filled with spectacular contrasts – from lush areas to naked moraines, nunataks and glaciers diving into the sea.

A walrus colony on Moffen

A walrus colony on Moffen, the research vessel «Lance» can be seen in the background. Photo: Bertran Kiil, Norwegian Polar Institute

On the Reinsdyrflya and Mitrahalvøya we find big beach areas with beach ridge deposits. The coastal areas are affected by the relatively warm west-Spitsbergen stream, and the west coast is usually free of ice all year.

A part from the numerous sea bird colonies we find decent populations of Geese and Mountain Fox and Walrus. Several attractive Arctic Char rivers can be found within the park, as well as peculiarities as the hot springs and what is left of quaternary vulcanoes in Bockfjorden. Several plant species has only been found close to these springs. Within the park is also the bird reserves Guissezholvmen, Skorpa and Moseøya, as well as the nature reserve of Moffen, all of which has dense populations of breeding Common Eider and Geese.

Cultural remains

Virgohamna in Svalbard

The englishman Arnold Pike erected a prefabricated house in Virgohamna on the Danskøya island in 1888, one of many cultural remains that can be found in the Nordvest-Spitsbergen national park. Photo: Harald Faste Aas, Norwegian Polar Institute

The area has significant cultural historic values with a high concentration of important sites from the whale hunting period. In addition there exists remains from both Russian and Norwegian stations used for the winter hunting expeditions. Perhaps the most famous location, Virgohavna, was the launch point for the Swedish engineer Salomon August Andrée when he tried to reach the North Pole by a hot air baloon "Ørnen" in 1897. There are still remains from this tragic expedition on the site.

The national park has significant tourist traffic during summer season, and both vegetation and cultural remains near some of the most popular sites are subject to significant wear and tear.