The Haute Route is a rugged inn-to-inn route that links Chamonix to Zermatt. Because most of the tour is spent in the remote valleys that lie between the Mont Blanc and Matterhorn regions, we think of it like a region unto itself.
Spending evenings high in the mountains leads to memorable views. The Moiry hut in Val d’Anniviers is one of our favorites.
Rugged and Steep
Compared to other popular tours in the Alps, the Haute Route is as close as you’ll get to a wilderness experience. The valleys are long and deep, the passes are high and steep, villages few and far between (and tiny). The Haute Route is great for strong hikers who want to get away from it all, and experience stunning mountain landscapes with relatively few signs of modern tourism.
There are some villages along the way. Chamonix and Zermatt at either end, of course, and the middle sections of the tour take you through some delightfully small villages such as Arolla and Zinal where you can have luggage transferred, stay in a comfortable hotel, and restock supplies. But for the most part, hiking the Haute Route is about being high in the mountains. High above treeline, walking amid (and sometimes across) the glaciers, crossing steep passes, and staying in rustic alpine club huts. There are no easy options… no cable cars to ease the ascents, very few convenient options for skipping hikes, and most tours spend multiple nights in dormitory-only huts high in the mountains.
It’s not for everyone, but this ruggedness also keeps the numbers down, and makes this one of the best places to see premier alpine scenery with very few people. You’ll be high in the mountains, surrounded by glaciers on much of this route. The Haute Route is much quieter than, say, the Tour du Mont Blanc. You’ll find spaces of real solitude here, with soaring vistas. Truly inspiring.
For those who do not look forward to a steep pass every single day, it’s possible to visit a few key areas along the way, skipping some of the hardest sections and staying in bucolic villages at the end of remote valleys. The 2nd half of the Haute Route is particularly well-suited to more moderate hiking.
The Haute Route is a big trip, but we still make time for some worthwhile detours, since that’s often where the magic happens. One of our favorite valleys midway is the Val d’Anniviers, with the incredible Moiry hut perched high in the mountains. You don’t have to go there, but we think it’s worth it, and most of our Haute Tours include a night at Moiry.
That’s followed by Zinal, a tiny village settled at the far end of the valley. Walking through Zinal is like walking through time, with darkened timber chalets topped with massive slate roofs draped with flowers. A few modest hotels provide a place to base yourself, and more than a few trails lead to high huts, remote farms, and unforgettable mountain views.
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