We had been hiking around for several days so we decided to take a day off and do a drive. We headed up Furka Pass in search of the Rhône Glacier.
The Furka Pass is a lovely mountain drive. The road was nicely paved the entire way with the expected sharp turns and steep inclines. It was a beautiful day so there were also lots of bikers (motor and pedal) working hard to get up the mountain.
We drove straight to the “Ice Grotto” to make sure to get there early and beat the crowd (a theme for our trip). The abandoned Hotel Belvédère shares the parking lot with the ice grotto and is a beacon on the side of the mountain to help you track where you are headed on the pass. Can you see her?
We were able to snag a spot in the parking lot and headed to the entrance. There was a waterfall in the parking lot so that seemed like a good sign of what we would see ahead.
Ok so I lied. There was some hiking on this day. You do have to hike down to the glacier from the parking lot entrance (after paying the entrance fee of course).
There were lots of lovely spots to stop for pictures.
Going into the glacier was a very surreal experience. It seems like you are stepping back in time a bit. The bubbles trapped in the ice is what really got me.
The path through the glacier is only about a 100m long but the kids really enjoyed exploring it.
Again more amazing photo opportunities.
On the way back there is a short secondary trail that you can take to the other end of the glacier lake. There is a nice waterfall at the end. It also gives a better perspective of the glacier and mountains.
Glad we got a chance to see a glacier before they are gone.
For your trip
Lauterbrunnen to the Ice Grotto is a 1.5 hr drive (according to Google). However, you will most likely want to stop along the way for pictures so expect some extra time on that. There are lots of pull off stops and hiking along the route.
There are actually several stops for food and snacks along the way. The ice grotto itself has a little cafe. The Grand Hotel sits in the valley after you have gone up and over the pass and before you drive up to the Grotto. This was a really beautiful location. At the top of the pass by Totensee is a couple hotels and several restaurants. This is also a really popular hiking spot so this place was absolutely packed when we drove by around lunchtime.
We stopped at a food truck on the way down the pass that had been recommended to us. I don’t know if the food truck has an actual name, but if you are looking for it on Google maps it has been labeled as “Lokalspezialitäten Holzofenbrot”, which is just Local speciality wood fire bread. They sell homemade bread, cheese and butter and it was amazing. Super delicious! They only speak German and of course cash only (it is the side of a mountain after all!). Oh and bring your own knife.
Now I don’t want to end this post on a bad note but I do want to make sure you have realistic expectations for your trip. The tunnel that is drilled into the glacier is only done once a year and then they spend the rest of the time trying to keep it from melting. We arrived at the end of July so the tunnel had already suffered through the heat of the summer. They have placed a white tarp over the tunnel to try to protect it. Here’s the entrance.
On the inside, there are some spots that have already completely melted and collapsed. It gives that abandoned Everest base camp feel.
Overall, it was still a great experience and if you are doing the pass its worth the stop.