Rhône Glacier Hike, Switzerland
The Rhône Glacier is probably one of the most beautiful and easily accessible glaciers in the Swiss Alps as it requires only a short hike. Or two.
View of the Rhone glacier from the upper panoramic trail.
Yes, there are two hiking options to get to the Rhône Glacier. One free, which will give you the best panoramic views of the glacier and its surroundings, with fantastic views of both the Furkapass and Grimselpass.
The second option requires you to pay an entrance fee, to get close to the glacier and visit the Ice Cave. I’ll describe both options in this post and, regardless of which one you choose, this is definitely one of the best and most accessible glaciers you can visit in the Swiss Alps.
Also, this is the location of the famous Hotel Belvedere, probably the most famous Hotel Pass in Switzerland. A very beautiful building, in series need of some TLC.
Table of Contents
Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier, upper trail.
How to get to the Rhône Glacier and Parking
First off, the glacier is only accessible from late spring to early autumn, and only when the mountain passes are open. At the very least, the Furkapass would need to be open. Potentially the Grimselpass too, depending on where you are coming from. You can check the status of the Furkapass here, as well as the status of all the main Swiss mountain passes.
- Driving Directions: the only way to get there is by driving the Furkapass, from either direction.
- Parking: on busy days, you are unlikely to find parking in front of the Ice Cave entrance. fear not. If you are coming from the Grimselpass or the Valais, you can drive past the Hotel Belvedere and you will find several parking spots on your right. Likewise, if you are coming from the Furkapass/Andermatt direction, I’d recommend parking before the Belvedere Hotel.
- Public Transport: Post Bus 861 running between Andermatt and Oberwald stops by the Belvedere Hotel. The name of the stop is “Belvedere Furka”.
View from the lower trail
The Rhône Glacier Hike Trail
To access the upper trail to the panoramic view, you do not need to pass through the souvenir shop and buy a ticket. The upper trail is free to access; there’s a sign marking it, but you will also see a trail on the side of the road.
From there, it’s a short 5-10 minutes walk to the panoramic view and to the Rhonequelle stone. You can actually continue a birth further too, to another panoramic point. The trail is a little rougher, but do not go too further ahead. See my map below. If you only have time for one hike, do this and save the time/money you would need for the lower trail and Ice cave.
The Souvenirs shop and entrance to the Ice Cave below the upper trail.
The trail leading to the viewpoint above the glacier
To me, this is the best viewpoint of the Rhône Glacier. You can also take a small detour to view the “Vier Quellen Weg” or “The four sources trail” in English. This is part of a longer trail that connects the sources of the Rhine, Reuss, Ticino and Rhone rivers.
From here, if you want also to do the lower trail, you will have to head back, go through the Souvenir shop, and purchase the access ticket. This will give you access to the lower trail and to the Ice Cave.Both the lower trail and the Ice cave will require an additional 20 minutes or so to visit.
Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier
The View Quellen Weg Stone by the Rhone river Source
The Rhône Glacier Ice Cave/Ice Grotto
To access the Ice Cave, you’d have to pass through the souvenir shop and buy a ticket. The cost is 9 CHF. For the price of the ticket, you get to see the glacier up close and an Ice Cave.
However, the ice cave is small and did not give the impression to be well-maintained. Also perhaps because the glacier is melting fast. The lighting inside the cave feels a little random ad the site cover drops in in places.
So, is the Rhône Glacier Ice Cave Worth it? Personally, the Rhône Glacier Ice Cave wasn’t worth it. Perhaps because I have visited others. However, if you have never visited one and this is your only chance, then go for it.
If you can and want a better experience, I’d recommend the Titlis Ice Cave instead.
Forecasted progression of the ice melt
The rather “uncelebratory” entrance of the Ice cave. I wasn’t actually sure if it was the entrance or a working area.
Inside the Rhone Glacier ice cave
A less nice area of the Ice Cave, below the cover.
White Blankets Covering the Rhône Glacier to Slow Down Melting
While hiking around the Rhône Glacier, you can’t help but notice the huge white cover on top of it. This has been done to try and slow down the melting rate of the Rhône Glacier, specifically, the one where the Ice Cave is. If you look for photos of how the glacier looked like only a decade ago, like these photos comparing the Rhône glacier in different years, you’ll easily why they resorted to such drastic measures. Sadly, like all Swiss glaciers, it’s going fast.
The giant white cover on the Rhone Glacier.
The Rhône Glacier Hike Photos and Photography Tips
Photographically speaking the best and most panoramic views are on the upper trail, the one freely accessible. Although there are not many different compositional possibilities from up there, I’ve used any focal range between 14mm and 200mm.
On the lower trail, you may have the chance to photograph some small icebergs and get close to the glacier. Still, not much f a panoramic view compared to the upper trail.
There isn’t much to photograph inside the Ice Cave either – if not just as a memory.
Lastly, don’t forget the Hotel Belvedere. If you pass by at night and the sky is clear, with the milky way in the background perhaps.
View of the glacier from the lower trail
Another view from the upper trail, 14mm shot
Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier, upper trail.
The Hotel Belvedere
200mm shot of the upper part of the Rhone Glacier
Map of the Rhône Glacier and Ice Cave Hike
Here is the map of the Hike. A GPX track isn’t really needed here, though. Both the upper and the lower trails are very short and visible,