Arolla Valley

Valais, Switzerland
Arolla valley virtual field trip


The north-facing Arolla Valley (Val d’Arolla) is located at the head of the Val d’Hérens in the canton of Valais, SW Switzerland (see zoom-able map below). In the area covered by this virtual field trip, valley floor elevations range from 1960 – 2200 m asl, with the surrounding peaks reaching 3300 – 3600 m asl. Notable glaciers within the catchment include the Haut Glacier d’Arolla, the Bas Glacier d’Arolla, the Glacier de Tsijiore Nouve and the Glacier de Pièce.

This virtual field trip provides an opportunity to explore the landscape in the upper Arolla valley, mostly between the bridge and the area in the vicinity of the glacier snout (which is not well-defined). In addition, there are two higher-level routes that can be accessed via links (hotspots) from the first site in the virtual field trip. The first features some locations WSW of Arolla, with views of the Glacier de Tsijiore Nouve. The second (sites 28 – 48) incorporates a steep climb towards the Glacier de Pièce, although this is not reached due to snow cover.

The imagery for sites 1 – 27 was acquired in June 2017, with additional imagery (sites 28 – 48) collected in June 2018. You can download location data for each of the stops (for viewing in Google Earth, ArcGIS, QGIS etc), although location information is also provided within the virtual field trip itself. However, it is recommended that you take a little time to appreciate the excellent swisstopo maps of the area (see link below)!

You can also visit the Arolla Valley to see what it looked like in 2006. There is a separate link for this below.

UPDATE: A new virtual tour of the Arolla Valley was created in June 2023. You can access this below via a separate link.

Start of Virtual Field Trip

Arolla Valley Virtual Field Trips

Arolla Virtual Field Trip (2006)

Go back in time and visit the Arolla Valley in 2006! This includes part of the route to the Haut Arolla glacier.

Arolla Virtual Field Trip (2017/18)

Go back in time and visit the Arolla Valley in 2017/18. This includes both the Bas Arolla and Tsijiore Nouve glaciers.

Arolla Virtual Field Trip (2023)

The most up-to date virtual field trip to the Arolla Valley. This had a more restrictive coverage than the other two.


Google Earth file (.kml)

Download this file if you want to view the virtual field trip stops within Google Earth. KML files can also be used in other applications and web services, including SwissTopo.

Spreadsheet (.csv)

Download this file if you want to view the virtual field trip stops within GIS software, such as ArcGIS Pro, ArcMap, QGis etc. Can also be used in Google Earth.

SwissTopo website

Access to current and historic mapping, as well as other data, from the Swiss national mapping service. TIP: You can drag KML files onto the map

Swiss Glacier Monitoring website

Length variation measurements for the Bas Arolla glacier.


This is a searchable database of resources for the Arolla and Ferpècle valleys. The resources include scientific publications, data, maps and photographs, and all are geolocated. This resource was produced by staff at the Faculty of Geosciences and Environment, University of Lausanne.
Picture of Dr Des McDougall (BSc, PhD, SFHEA)

Dr Des McDougall (BSc, PhD, SFHEA)

I'm a Physical Geographer at the University of Worcester (England, UK). Interests include mountain glaciers, mountain geomorphology and Quaternary environmental change. I'm also interested in the use of virtual reality in teaching.

Can you help?

In order to support the ongoing development of this site, it would be really helpful if you could let me know why and how you use the resource. I’d also appreciate hearing any ideas you may have for improvements. Thank you!