Storsjon's Highway Ice Bridge – Östersund V, Sweden - Atlas Obscura
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Östersund V, Sweden

Storsjon's Highway Ice Bridge

Winter roadtrips are a little more exciting on this seasonal, slippery expansion of Sweden's national highway system. 

Thanks to the “ice bridge” spanning one of their nation’s biggest lakes each winter, it’s likely that a bunch of Swedes consider America’s hit television series Ice Road Truckers a giant joke. 

Each year, when the Storsjön (Big Lake) freezes over, Sweden’s national highway system expands just a little bit. Though a network of ferries traverse the lake during the warmer months, mere mortals are permitted to cruise atop the lake’s frozen waves in normal automobiles as the ice road becomes an official route within the Swedish highway system from January to April, pending the arrival and duration of winter’s deep-freeze.

Despite reaching depths of nearly 250 feet when liquid, the seasonal ice bridge is prepared, signed and maintained as a regular road only after ice thickness exceeds 7.9 inches. Sets of blinking lights at either (landbound) end of the road designate when conditions – of either the air or surface variety – make crossing Storsjön by car unsafe. Vehicles criss-crossing the lake are restricted to weights of 2.0–3.9 long tons or 2.2–4.4 short tons, and are prohibited from parking anywhere along the road’s shoulder, no matter how perfect the conditions may be for testing out a legendary local ice fishing technique.

Those few specific rules aside, roll down your windows and feel the Great Northern Wind rip through your hair as frostbite numbs your face, hurtling down that ice road before summer arrives to reclaim road trips as the provenance of asphalt alone.

Know Before You Go

There is one ice bridge between Isön and Norderön and one between Norderön and Håkansta.