Way up in the north of Sweden, near the Norwegian border and into Lapland, Riksgransen is the world’s northernmost ski resort. This is a playground for adults, an athlete’s resort, where skiers and snowboarders come when other ski resorts of Europe are winding down at the end of their skiing season. Riksgransen is a very laid-back, 100-year-old ski resort with a starkly beautiful Arctic landscape and one hotel that can accommodate up to 500 guests and also provides the après-ski entertainment.
Riksgransen is a tiny oasis in the vast expanse of Lapland wilderness, with a cluster of about twenty wooden buildings painted red. Skiers and boarders come here in the spring to take advantage of the long days and the maritime climate to hit the slopes wearing shorts. The twenty pistes serviced by six ski lifts add up to over 21kms of varied terrain with the majority of the terrain suitable for intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There is challenging off-piste skiing for experts. In good weather people can ski round the clock taking advantage of the exciting off-piste and 30kms of interesting cross-country trails.
The only hotel, the Granan, provides its patrons with sensational entertainment and food. Black shades are drawn over the windows of the bar, because of the bright light outside. During the endless spring here, 130 miles north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for weeks. There is a surreal feeling while skiing under the midnight sun on Riksgränsen’s monolithic, Sierra-like snow and it draws its own breed of skiers from all over Europe to it like a magnet.
Riksgransen is also home to the Scandinavian Big Mountain Championships, an extreme free riding contest. When they are not skiing the visitors swarm to the edge of the Lake Vassiljaure set against 5,000-foot Mountains to the south. Other popular activities here are heli-skiing and dog-sledding.
The ski season at Riksgransen runs from December to late June with best conditions later in the season. The most convenient way of getting to Riksgransen is by flying to Kiruna’s domestic airport, via Stockholm, and then taking the bus from there or train from Kiruna.