The Furka pass connects the Ursern valley (i.e. the upper valley of the Reuss river) in the canton of Uri with the municipality of Goms in the canton of Valais, on a height of 2,431 m (7976ft) above sea level. The water shed runs over this pass.
The road was built for strategic military reasons and was the longest pass road in Switzerland when it was opened in 1866.
There is an underground base tunnel through which the railway crosses the Furka pass road. In winter, when the pass road is closed, you can have your car loaded onto the train from Realp in Uri to Oberwald in Valais. The vehicle train line that runs through the Furka Tunnel opened in 1982 which replaced another tunnel that sat at 2100 meters.
Always check the roads first when traveling through the Furka Pass in Switzerland as winter conditions can cause these passes to close and the only way through is by taking the vehicle train. ... snow storms, the vehicle train can be pleasurable as it is a relaxing ride where you can enjoy the scenery of the snow covered mountains passes. The vehicle train is also a nice way for tourists to travel between towns in the summer and view the amazing wilderness of the Swiss Alps.
Until 1981, the Furka-Oberalp railway transcended the Furka pass on gearwheel tracks that were not always safe during the winter season and through a tunnel on more than 2,100 m above sea level. With the opening of the base tunnel, the mountain line was shut down. However, friends of the railway line succeeded in preventing the pulling down of the tracks. Luckily, this line section has been partly reopened by the Dampfbahn Furka-Bergstrecke AG and became a museum railway in 1992.
At Gletsch, a village in the western part of the valley, the road branches off to the Grimsel pass. On 2,272 m above sea level, lies the hotel Belvédère from where you have access to the Rhône glacier. Two centuries ago, the glacier reached down to Gletsch. Meanwhile, it has shrinked so much that one can hardly see it from the pass road.
During the summer months, the Furka Pass in Switzerland is a scenic wilderness and driving is possible through hard slopes and hairpin turns. The road is paved and is very wide which makes it easy to stop and take pictures. A definite recommendation during the winter is board the vehicle train for the easier way to travel through Switzerland
The climb starts immediately with the hardest slopes, and a number of hairpin turns. The road is very wide and perfectly surfaced, as ususal in Switzerland. Throughout the climb, we can see either the village of Realp and the set of loops we have already done, or the long valley going steeply to the top of the pass. Close to a one or two houses that can be seen from Realp, starts the second part of the climb with a much more straightforward road, but also less steep. The road continues to Tiefenbach and further, with mountains torrents and very nice view over Alps glaciers. Two last turns announce the end of the climb, and the pass appears after a last half-kilometer nearly flat.
• height of the pass: 2,431 m above sea level
• max. gradient: 11 %
• length of the pass: 31 km between Gletsch (VS) and Andermatt (UR)
• connection of two valleys: Goms (VS) and Urseren (UR)
• connection of two cantons: Valais (VS) and Uri (UR)
• road since: 1867
Traffic has increased constantly. Nowadays more than 250,000 people cross the pass each year on cycles or motorcycles, in private cars, in Alpine PostBuses or by historic steam train on the reopened rack-and-pinion railway section across the mountains.
The Furka Pass was used as a location in the James Bond film Goldfinger in the scene in which Tilly Masterson attempts to snipe Goldfinger. It was filmed in the Furka pass between the Belvedere Hotel in front of the Rhone Glacier.
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