People have traditionally settled up on the valley sides in buildings adapted to the sloping terrain. The economies of the different areas have varied as greatly as the landscape with its vast forests, mountain plateaus, and arable soil. The mountainous areas of Valdres are well suited to summer pasturage with many traditional seters still in use.
The region was always one of the main transport routes between eastern and western Norway and as such strongly influenced by its contacts to the west.
Fagernes, the largest urban center, has grown due to commercial activity, tourism and the railroad. The Valdres line opened in 1906. It was closed down in 1988.