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Picture-Perfect Göscheneralpsee Lake in Göschenen, Switzerland

(Last Updated On: January 10, 2024)

Göscheneralpsee Lake (or Göscheneralp Lake) is a reservoir that can be found in the Göschenen municipality, 1,792 meters above sea level. Located in Canton Uri, it’s about ten kilometers west of Göschenen village, a 20-minute ride away. The canton of Uri is actually a beautiful mountainous area, but it often gets overlooked.

Image of Göscheneralpsee Lake by TouringSwitzerland.com

Göscheneralpsee Lake, despite its giant concrete wall, is a picturesque place with high mountain peaks and the Damma Glacier.

A number of mountains surround this area, including the Sustenhorn (3,502 meters), Dammastock (3,630 meters and the highest in the Urner Alps), and Galenstock (3,586 meters). On the eastern flank of the Dammastock, you’ll find the Damma Glacier (Dammagletscher in German), a 2.5-kilometer glacier. This region is almost entirely within the Aarmassif geologic massif, with gneiss-like foliated Aare granite rock. The scenery is stunning, and it’s well worth a visit.

Göscheneralpsee and the History of Göscheneralp

Image of Göscheneralpsee by TouringSwitzerland.com

Göscheneralpsee is located in what used to be Göscheneralp, one of Switzerland’s highest permanent settlements. It was mostly mountain farmers, their servants, and craftsmen who lived in Göscheneralp.

Göscheneralp used to be a high mountain pasture owned by the locals in 1359, a unique case in Canton Uri where the Alps are typically farmed collectively1. Over the years, it’s changed from being an alp occupied during the summer to a permanent settlement with two hamlets. In 1733, a chapel was built by the locals on Älplerboden.

For many years, locals in Göscheneralp have relied on these high summer pastures of Älplerboden (Allmenden Vordere, Hintere Röti, Kehlenalp) and Gwüest (Bergstafel). In the beginning, farmers were largely independent of each other. Their alpine cooperative was formed only in 1772, particularly to assist them in enduring harsh winters together. 

The residents of Göscheneralp were forced to relocate to Gwüest after the Göscheneralpsee reservoir was built.


Göscheneralpsee Lake

As a result of the failure to construct the dam in Urseren Valley (Urserental in German), the Göscheneralp Dam was built. In 1960, the dam was completed, with a maximum height of 155 meters and a volume of 9 million cubic meters.

Water power from Göschenen, Gotthardreuss, and their tributaries is harnessed by the Göschenen Power Plant. Among Switzerland’s dams, it is the seventh tallest.

Image of the Göschenenalp Dam Details by TouringSwitzerland.com
Construction (Years)1955 to 1962
Dam Volume9,300,000 m3
Dam Width700 meters
Dam Height155 meters
Dam Capacity75,000,000m3
Crown Length540 meters
Göscheneralp Reservoir

As a result of the dam construction, a well-paved road needed to be constructed. Nowadays, you can reach the Göscheneralpsee Lake by driving ten kilometers from Göschenen.

The created reservoir amidst the high mountains has made Göscheneralpsee Lake a popular excursion destination in Canton Uri.


Hikes around Göscheneralpsee Lake

Even though there are no mountain pass crossings for cars, this area has a wide range of hiking paths.

A popular hike in the Andermatt vacation region is the 8.2-kilometer circular hike around the Göscheneralpsee. You can expect lush flora in this mountainscape as well as nice viewpoints around the lake.

Here are some of the hiking trails from Göscheneralpsee:

Hiking RouteEstimated Hiking Time
Göscheneralpsee Lake Circular Hike3 hours 10 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Berg35 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Vorder Röti1 hour 10 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Chelenalphütte2 hours 50 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Dammahütte3 hours 10 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Bergseehütte1 hour 50 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Bergsee Schijen2 hours 35 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Voralphütte SAC5 hours 15 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Dammahütte SAC2 hours 40 minutes
Göscheneralpsee – Chelenalphütte SAC3 hours 35 minutes

How to Get to Göscheneralpsee

Image of Göscheneralpsee (Parking Lot and Road) by TouringSwitzerland.com

Driving to Göscheneralpsee is the easiest way. The road is narrow but well-paved, and it’s close to Göschenen village.

You can also take the bus from summer until mid-autumn. The bus stop near Göscheneralpsee is called Göscheneralp, Dammagletscher. Check sbb.ch for more info on whether the bus runs on the day you want to visit Göscheneralpsee.


Final Thoughts: Göscheneralpsee

Image of Göscheneralpsee by TouringSwitzerland.com

Göscheneralpsee is a wonderful place to visit. My suggestion is to come here for hikes, though I’ve also seen people fishing here as well. A circular hike around the lake is a nice one, but if you want to try something else, there are lots of options.

You can also enjoy great food and drinks at the Berggasthaus Dammagletscher, which features friendly service. In addition, they have a lovely terrace when it’s sunny and nice outside.

With its clear lake, snow-capped peaks, countless trees, and blue skies, Göscheneralpsee is truly a beautiful place. Together with Luzzone and Grand Dixence, it’s one of the most beautiful water reservoirs I’ve ever seen.


Resources

  • 1 Kaufmann, Georg and Peter Roubik. Das erste Urbar der Kaplanei Göscheneralp. Der Geschichtsfreund, 153. Band 2000.
  • Ringwald, Fritz. Das Kraftwerk Göschenen: Geographische Studie über die Nutzbarmachung der Reuss. Geographica Helvetica: schweizerische Zeitschrift für Geographie. Kümmerly & Frey, 1963.
  • Zanolari, B. The Efficiency of the Swiss Civil Engineering Contractors. The Swiss Observer, 12 March 1965.

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Darla Uhl is the owner of TouringSwitzerland.com. Her home is in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. Having lived almost 20 years in Switzerland, she's traveled extensively all over the country.

Darla's favorite regions to visit in Switzerland include Engadin, Lake Geneva, Bernese Oberland, Ticino, and Valais. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, visiting museums, and reading books.

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