Location: Province of Tyrol, Austria
Length: 15.3 km
Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes
Surface quality (out of 5): 4 – 5
Highest point: 2.830 m
Operating times: throughout the year
Ötztalstraße B 186 (Ötztaler Gletscherstraße)
Route: Sölden – Rettenbach Glacier
The Ötztal Glacier Road (German: Ötztaler Gletscherstraße) is located in the Austrian province of Tyrol. Reaching an altitude of 2.830 m, it is the second highest paved road in Europe and the highest in Austria. It represents the access road from the village of Sölden to the well-known Rettenbach and Tiefenbach glaciers.
The extraordinary Ötztaler glaciers cover an area of 65 kilometers and separate the Stubai Alps from the Ötztal Alps. The glaciers are one of Tyrol’s most popular holiday destinations, mainly due to the famous ski resorts Sölden-Hochsölden, Obergurgl-Hochgurgl and the town of Oetz.
The amazing Ötztaler Gletscherstraße was built in 1972 as an extension to the existing Hochsölden road in order to encourage the tourist development of the area. With an average slope gradient of 11% and a maximum of 13%, through a series of spectacular twists and curves, this dangerous road leads to the highest accessible spot on an asphalted road in the Alps.
Most importantly, due to the unique location of the road, amidst Alpine regions that lead up to heights of more than 2.800 m, there is always a risk of sudden drops in temperature or snowfalls. As a result, it’s recommended to carry snow and track chains at any time of the year.
The Gletscherstraße is a toll road but it’s good to know that all skiers with a valid ski pass and cyclists can use the road for free. The toll gate is located at an altitude of 1.700 m. Also, the access to the glacier ski area is possible for heavy vehicles and for buses.
The ascent is 15.3 km long and begins in Sölden, a former mining village that has become an important tourist destination, with 15.000 guest beds and over 2 million overnight stays per year, mainly for winter sports.
Driving South, the road immediately gets steeper with a significant gradient of 8%. After a distance of 6 km and a short descent, you will reach the toll gate and further on, at the altitude of 2630 m, a bifurcation sign appears: you can continue the journey either to the Tiefenbach glacier (2.820 m) or towards the Rettenbach (2.675 m). Regardless of the chosen route, you will be dazzled by the scenic beauty of the Ötztal Glacier Road and be convinced that this trip to the land of eternal ice is definitely worthwhile.
Both Rettenbach Glacier and the Tiefenbach have ample parking spaces and are connected to each other by the impressive “Rosi Mittermaier Tunnel”, the highest road tunnel in Europe with a length of 1.8 km.
Here you will find an ample ski resort with 2 viewing points located at dizzying heights, offering unique and breathtaking views over the Wildspitz, the highest mountain in Tyrol. The Ötztal resort also offers high level accommodation and lots of restaurants that guarantee comfort and relaxation, even after hours of skiing.
Photos: wordpress.com, summitpost.org, central-soelden.com, fall-line.co.uk, driveeuropenews.files.wordpress.com, hotspot-der-alpen.soelden.com