The village of Zermatt, Switzerland is one of the most picturesque places in all of Switzerland. Hiking trails, rivers, glaciers, lakes, viewpoints, and more, make up the surrounding landscape with the Matterhorn mountain hovering above.
One of the more unique natural attractions in Zermatt is the Gorner Gorge, also known as Gornerschlucht. This deep rock formation with a winding turquoise river flowing through it, is a site to see. The elevated pathway wraps around the gorge itself, giving visitors the chance to enjoy the view from up close.
This guide will talk through how to go about a visit to Gorner Gorge and what to expect on a visit during your time in Zermatt.
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1) Gorge Gorge History
→ In the town of Zermatt, you will find the Gornera River, which is sourced from the Gorner Glacier up in the mountainside. For a small portion of the river, a deep chasm has been formed called the Gorner Gorge.
→ This natural rock formation has been formed over thousands of years from the flowing water. The rock itself (called serpentinite), is over 200 million years old!
→ While the gorge has been around for a long while, it was made accessible back in 1886. Since then it has been open to the public for visitors to take a look at this unique natural rock formation.
→ Throughout the gorge you will find a 200 meter (650 foot) wooden pathway that has been built alongside the rock, along with a couple staircases and lookout points.
→ Visitors can make the walk from the Zermatt town center to visit the gorge, walk through its walls, and even take part of a longer loop option during their time out in nature.
Below is an excerpt from the signboard located at the entrance of the gorge that gives a bit more detail on the history:
“The path through the canyon of the Gornergorge was created in the years 1886-87 by the brothers Joseph and Elias Lauber and the brothers Joseph and Gabriel Taugwalder. This passage was assigned to them by the municipality of Zermatt. In return they had to invite the whole community to a “kolaz” (snack). It is interesting to note that the year before the same request had been made by a Frenchman named Charpentier to the community. He also wanted to create a passage at his own expense and he planned to give it back to the community after 10 years. but his request was rejected.
In building the way through the canyon natural methods were devised and natural materials found in the region were used. Explosions, tunnels, etc. were deliberately avoided. The tourist can therefore discover a genuine landscape, which is rare for public accessible canyons, even more so since this passage is more than 120 years old. The construction was made with the simplest tools and special equipment.
Until around the middle of the last century the way through the canyon was divided into a front and rear part. Today the Alpine Centre of Zermatt is the tenant of the rear. Until today, the way through he canyon has been managed by a small, private cooperation.
The impressive Gornercanyon has been created by the erosion of the Gornervispe after the last ice age (about 10,000 years ago). The rock belongs to the Serpentinite – a dense black green transformation product of Periodit, which goes back to the Mesozoic period (120-220 million years ago).”
2) Gorner Gorge Map & Location
Getting to the Gorner Gorge is very simple once you have made it to Zermatt. While many of the top hikes and attractions require cable cars or various transport options, the Gorner Gorge is located within walking distance of the village center.
From the train station it is about a 25-minute walk to the entrance of the gorge. However, if you are already staying a bit further into town, then that walk will certainly be shorter in length.
For the simplest and most scenic directions to the gorge, I would recommend heading to the river and then just walking the path right alongside it. As you get further away from the village, you will pass by the Zermatt cable car station followed by the Forest Fun Park.
Just after passing by the Fun Park, you should see the Gorner Gorge entrance off to the left hand side.
Note: instead of walking the full way to the gorge, you can also hop on the Zermatt shuttle busses that make their way through town and drop off at the cable car station. From the station, you can just make the short walk to the gorge entrance.
Below you can find the directions and location of the Gorner Gorge on an interactive map.
3) Where to Stay in Zermatt
Zermatt is a charming car free town located in the Valais region of Switzerland. The town is the perfect place to base yourself when visiting the mountains above the town. Below are a few of my highly recommended options to choose from when going about your trip.
Remember that accommodation options can fill up quickly during the high season in Zermatt. Be sure to book your hotels once you have your dates set.
Other Zermatt Hotel Resources
4) Gorger Gorge Tickets
In order to take part of the walk along the Gorner Gorge, you must purchase tickets from the booth located at the entrance of the pathway.
The price for the Gorner Gorge tickets are as follows:
- Adults: 5.50 CHF
- Children (up to 16): 3.00 CHF
- Children (up to 6): Free
If you are a group of 10 or more, tickets cost 5.00 CHF per person.
Note that this is a cash only attraction. Be sure to come along with some Swiss Franc so you are not turned away at the entrance.
5) Gorner Gorge Opening Hours
The Gorner Gorge has certain opening hours during the day and it is not open year-round. Below are the latest hours and opening dates:
- Opening Days: Monday – Sunday
- Opening Hours: 9:15AM – 5:45PM
- Dates Closed: October 18 – May 31
Note that the closing dates may vary by year, but this should be a good indication of when you should expect it to be open.
Gorner Gorge Winter: as you can tell by the opening dates above, unfortunately, the Gorner Gorge is closed in the winter.
Due to safety concerns on the boardwalk and stairs, it is not something that can be opened during periods of snow. If you are planning a trip during the Summer or Fall, you should be able to visit the gorge.
» I will say that this is the perfect activity to do if you have a day in Zermatt with subpar weather. If it is too rainy or cloudy to take in hikes at higher elevation, head off to the Gorner Gorge to spend some time keeping you busy.
6) How Long is Gorner Gorge
The Gorner Gorge walkway is quite short at just 200 meters / 650 feet in length. The walk through the gorge should take approximately 20 minutes as you stop along the way and take some pictures from various lookout spots.
If you are just interested in visiting the gorge, you can just walk back and forth along the pathway, walking around 400 meters altogether before heading back to Zermatt.
However, you can create a walking route that adds on some nearby places to make more of an experience out of it.
Instead of walking back through the entrance, you can exit through the end of the gorge and make a circular route back to Zermatt.
You can head to Zermatt town center through a few different small villages including:
- via Winkelmatten: ~40 minutes
- via Moos and Winkelmatten: ~70 minutes
- via Blatten: ~90 minutes
The times above are conservative estimates from the end of the gorge back down around to Zermatt.
In addition, you could technically continue from the end of the gorge to places like Riffelalp, Furi, and Schwarzsee depending on your interest.
7) Gorner Gorge Walk
After getting yourself from Zermatt town to the Gorner Gorge entrance, it is time to begin the 20-minute walk along its boardwalks.
Simply pay the entrance fee at the small hut, and head down onto the walkway itself.
The wooden walkway follows the gorge’s walls, as you take in different angles and viewpoints of the river down below and the unique rock formation all around you.
Surrounding the gorge will be green moss-covered rocks with the forest landscape all around. At some points of the gorge, the water will be nice and calm, while in other portions it will be a fast-moving waterfall making its way down.
During the walk, expect there to be a couple of narrow staircases to make your way along. Be careful of your step, especially after rainy weather, as it can get a bit slippery on the pathway.
The pathway does not only stay to one side of the canyon walls either. You will see that the walkway zig zags across to the other side as well.
This gives you the chance to take in the view from the middle of the gorge with the river down below and the walls on either side.
After around 20 minutes of walking you will reach the end of the boardwalk and the exit point to the gorge.
You can decide to turn right back around and experience the gorge once again back to the entrance, or decide to make more of a loop trail mentioned earlier.
That about wraps up a guide to the Gorner Gorge of Zermatt, Switzerland. If you have any questions or comments, be sure to add them in below.
Have fun out there and safe travels!