Ófærufoss in Eldgjá

  • The waterfall Ófærufoss (the impassable waterfall) is one of the few interesting waterfalls in Iceland located in the Highland.

The waterfall Ófærufoss (the impassable waterfall) is one of the few interesting waterfalls in Iceland located in the Highland. A waterfall you don't want to miss if you are traveling in Iceland and waterfalls are on your list of things to do in Iceland.  It is a waterfall in the river Nyðri-Ófæra or “The impassable northern river”.  It is a beautiful and impressive fall, and probably one of ten to fifteen most interesting waterfalls in Iceland.  Placed in the great fissure Eldgjá, or Canyon of Fire, it is one of the main attractions in the Icelandic Highland.  The canyon Eldgjá, a 40 km long eruptive fissure, is a geological phenomenon and one of the largest and longest fissures in Iceland formed in an eruption around the time of settlement in Iceland around the year 930. The part where we find Ófærufoss is the most beautiful part of the fissure, and also the most interesting as both the canyon and the waterfall are stunning. The canyon is around 600 meters wide and 200 meters height.  Before 1993 the waterfall was even more stunning with an arch bridge across the lower cascade.  In 1993 the arch collapsed in the regular spring thaw that proved to be extensive at that time.

How to go to Ófærufoss?

Access to the canyon is a bit difficult, and the area is only accessible from the middle of June until late September. The highland roads are closed in winter.  From the Ring Road Nr. 1 in southern Iceland you turn north on road 208 located abut 20 kilometers west of the small village Kirkjubæjarklaustur.  After a short drive, this road changes into a mountain road F203, Fjallabaksleið nyrðri (The northern track behind the mountains). A 25-kilometre drive on this road will take you straight to the mouth of the part of Eldgjá that houses the waterfall. A few kilometers before you arrive at the parking lot for Elgjá you need to drive over a river the can be difficult to pass, so caution is required.  From the parking lot there is a two and a half to three kilometers walk, depending on how near the waterfall you want to go. The whole canyon with the waterfall is such an impressive natural construction that you can easily spend two to three hours here.  Before you drive to the parking lot passing the river, you can take a turn to Gjátindur. This is a road that defiantly requires a well equipped 4X4 vehicle as you drive up by the rim of the canyon, and here you get a new impressive view of both Elgjá and Ófærufoss.