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 during a hike ion the upper panoramic trail

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.

Hotel Belvedere on the Furkapass

Hotel Belvedere.

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

Overview of the Rhône Glacier Hike

Max Altitude  2,346 m
Distance  3,14 KM
Elevation gain   170m ↑ / 170m ↓
Hike time  00:45 / 1:00 Hours
Hike Difficulty  Easy
Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier on a Sunny Day

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”.
Glacier and icebergs at the Rhone Glacier in switzerland

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.

Entrance of the Rhone Glacier Ice cave viewed from above with small icebergs behind

The Souvenirs shop and entrance to the Ice Cave below the upper trail.

Trail above a glacier in the swiss alps

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 taken during hike

Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier

The View Quellen Weg Stone by the Rhone river Source, with the glacier behind it.

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 Rhone Glacier ice melt

Forecasted progression of the ice melt

Entrance of the Rhone Glacier ice cave

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

Inside the Rhone Glacier ice cave

inside the melting 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.

White cover on the Rhone glacier to slow down melting

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 a glacier in the swiss alps, with some icebergs in the glacial lake

View of the glacier from the lower trail

Melting glacier in the swiss alps covered in white blankets

Another view from the upper trail, 14mm shot

Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier on a Sunny Day

Panoramic view of the Rhone Glacier, upper trail.

Hotel Belvedere on the Furkapass on a sunny day

The Hotel Belvedere

Glacier in the swiss alps on the furkapass

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,

Where to stay

There isn’t really much in the area. The closest accommodations are either toward Obergoms, Andermatt, or the Grimselpass. If you are driving around in a van, it may be possible to spend the night in some parking areas.

Additional Resources