The small municipality of Vals, which includes the Valsertal and part of the village of St. Jodok, has about 500 inhabitants and is surrounded by the proud mountains of the Tux Alps.
Its distinctive features include the Olperer, with its covering of glaciers, and the rocky Fußstein at the end of the Vals Valley. Along with the Vals Valley and the adjacent Schmirn Valley, Vals has since 2012 belonged to the elite group of Austrian mountaineering villages.
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Vals, at that time known as "vallis" (Valley), was originally an Alpine farm and pasture area for the Rhaetian farmers in Mauern in Steinach. Over the centuries, the Alpine farms became mountain farm guesthouses, the oldest of which is the “Gasthof Lamm” in St. Jodok (13th century).
Blue marble was once mined in the Vals Valley, for example, for the floor slabs of the Cathedral of St. Jakob (St. James) in Innsbruck. A molybdenum mine with barracks for prisoners of war and a processing plant were built in the Second World War at the Alpein gap in the upper Vals Valley, at almost 3,000 m above sea level. This was however abandoned after it was overwhelmed by an avalanche before the war ended.
The Vals Valley, with its grey alder forest at the end of the valley, was declared a nature conservation area as long ago as 1942, which explains why Vals has remained the most pristine of all the side valleys in the Wipptal region. This is a place of sheer delight for lovers of flora and Alpine fauna. Since 2001, parts of the valley have been a “Natura 2000” nature reserve. On the initiative of some of the local farmers, the “Schule der Alm” was established in the Vals Valley with the aim of introducing interested parties to the work of Alpine farms and high-altitude areas of grassland on which hay is gathered. Taster days can be booked through the Wipptal tourist office.
Together with Schmirn, Vals is also part of the culinary region known as the “Nordtiroler Grauvieh Almochs”, and the high-quality meat produced here can be tasted as a regional speciality in the partner enterprises.
As the name “Bergsteigerdorf” (Mountaineering Village) suggests, there are ideal opportunities for mountain hikes up into high alpine terrain. Less ambitious hikers will of course also find beautiful paths in the valley. St. Jodok is also home to the Peter Kofler Via-Ferrata (difficulty level C), and in the upper Vals Valley, there are also opportunities for sport climbing, bouldering and ice climbing.
The Vals Valley is known for its guaranteed snow cover and offers some irresistible activities in the winter too. There is a small practice lift for families with children who want to venture onto skis, and tobogganists can enjoy a natural toboggan run at the end of the valley. The area around the Vennspitze is also a very popular ski touring area - with good conditions until the late spring. For cross-country skiers, a small but perfectly-formed cross-country ski run is located in the upper valley (classic & skating).
Thanks to the Brenner railway, St. Jodok is also very accessible by public transport. A special feature of St. Jodok is the railway loop with its technically interesting turning tunnel whose creation was dictated by the conditions presented by the gradient up to the Brenner Pass.
Vals - St. Jodok
Vals is a municipality with 537 inhabitants in the district of Innsbruck Land in Tyrol. The municipality is in the judicial district of Innsbruck.