The Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps is the source of the Rhône River, which travels through Switzerland and France into the Mediterranean Sea, and contributes to Lake Geneva. It’s estimated to be more than 10,000 years old. Visitors can view it from the outside and also walk inside the glacier.
Travelers have been flocking to the Rhône Glacier for more than 150 years to see one of Switzerland’s largest rivers of ice. Travelers can walk inside the ice grotto (for a fee), as tunnels and caves are carved out every summer. Though the glacier looks whitish-gray from outside, inside it is a vivid icy blue.
Like all glaciers, the Rhône Glacier is dynamic; it moves 100-130 feet (30-40 meters) per year, although these days it is also melting rapidly and a new lake is forming at the base of the glacier. There are no guided tours of the glacier, but a visitor’s center sells tickets to the grotto and provides information for independent visits.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wear waterproof shoes with a good grip.
The road to the glacier and up to the Furka Pass is winding, so travelers who experience motion sickness may want to carry medicine.
In the warmer months, fleece blankets are placed over the glacier in an attempt to slow its melting.
How to Get There
The glacier is easily accessible by road, as it is near the Furka Pass, which is the easiest route between the two cantons of Valais and Uri. Many visitors park at the Hotel Belvédère and walk the short distance to the grotto and glacier viewing platform.
When to Get There
The short answer is, as soon as possible because the glacier is melting at an alarming rate. Otherwise, the ice grotto is open from June to October. It’s an ideal cooling-off point in the summer. Outside of these months, it can only be seen from a distance.
Visit the Largest Glacier in Switzerland
Travelers who have a thing for glaciers will also enjoy visiting the Aletsch Glacier, the largest in the Alps. It is also retreating (melting) rapidly, but measures around 14 miles (23 kilometers). The area where it is located is part of the UNESCO-listed Jungfrau-Aletsch Protected Area.
- Grimsel Pass
- Grindelwald First
- Ballenberg, Swiss Open-Air Museum
- Aletsch Glacier
- Jungfraujoch Sphinx Observatory (Sphinx-Observatorium)
- Lake Brienz (Brienzersee)
- Wengen-Männlichen Aerial Cableway
- Schynige Platte
- Adventure Park Interlaken (Seilpark Interlaken)
- Harder Kulm
- St. Beatus Caves (St. Beatus-Höhlen)
- Lake Thun (Thunersee)