Lysefjord is a fjord located in Forsand in Ryfylke in south-western Norway. The name means light fjord, and is said to be derived from the lightly coloured granite rocks along its sides.
The fjord was carved by the action of glaciers in the ice ages and was flooded by the sea when the later glaciers retreated. End to end, it measures 42 km (26 mi) with rocky walls falling nearly vertically over 1000 m (3,000 ft) into the water. Because of the inhospitable terrain, the fjord is only lightly populated and only has two villages on its length – Forsand and Lysebotn, located at opposite ends of the fjord. The few people who live or lived along the fjord are only able to leave their homes by boat, as the slopes are too steep for roads.
Lysebotn, at the far eastern end, is largely populated by workers at the nearby hydroelectric plants at Lyse and Tjodan, both built inside the mountains. At the Lyse plant, the water falls 620 m to the turbines, producing up to 210,000 kW of electricity; at Tjodan, the water falls 896 m to yield an output of 110,000 kW. The two power plants provide electricity for more than 100,000 people. A spectacular road which rises almost 900 m (2700 feet) through a series of 27 hairpin bends links Lysebotn with the outside world.
Lysefjord is an extremely popular tourist attraction and day trip from nearby Stavanger, from where cruise ships travel the full distance of the fjord. As well as the extraordinary scenery of the fjord itself, two points along its length are popular side trips. The rock of Preikestolen, located above a vertical drop of 600 meters, can be seen from the fjord, but is more impressive from above. At the end of the fjord lies the Kjerag mountain, a popular hiking destination with even more spectacular drops.
On the east side of the fjord lies the town Lysebotn.
Not only is the fjord long and narrow, it is in places as deep as the mountains are high. Only 13 m (43 feet) deep where it meets the sea near Stavanger, the Lysefjord drops to a depth of over 400 m (1300 feet) below the Preikestolen.