Hardangervidda is the largest mountain plateau in Northern Europe. In 1981, part of the Vidda became a protected area and called Hardangervidda National Park.
The scenery on Hardangervidda varies a lot. In the east the landscape is open and flat, while in the west and south there are mountain ranges up to 1700 meter high. In the far west, the terrain plunges abruptly down to Sørfjorden.
Fundamental rock species are to be found in the national park, slate and species originating from lava. In some areas there are long ridges of gravel formed by the melting ice during the Ice Age. The difference in climate and landscape between west and east has an influence on the vegetation of these two areas. The west has a high level of rainfall and even temperatures, ideal for the vegetation. On the eastern side of the Vidda the vegetation is not so luxuriant.
Hardangervidda is known for its rich plant and animal life, and is the most southern area in Norway where arctic flora and fauna can be found. Over 500 plant species are registered, as well as 100 species of birds and 21 different mammals in the central Vidda. There are also many lakes, streams, rivers and bogs on the Vidda, which is renowned for its good fishing. Northern Europe's largest stock of reindeer can be found on Hardangervidda.