Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You will find this beast of a fall in North Iceland; in the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum, which flows from the magnificent Vatnajökull glacier. The falls are 100 meters wide and have a drop of 45 meters down to advance its flow down the mighty Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is indeed powerful in volume, having an average water flow of 400 m3/s during summers. The origin of the water is south of the waterfall and can be traced to the many outlet glaciers and glacier tongues on the northern side of the large icecap/glacier Vatnajökull. Dettifoss is on many lists of most spectacular waterfalls in Europe and even in the world. It is no. 4 on our list of most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.
Dettifoss and the Canyon is one of the most spectacular sights in Iceland
Standing by the thundering waters cascading into the wide canyon is an experience you are not likely to forget. But, you better take care. The footpath down to the falls on the eastern bank is rough. On the western bank, the slopes are grassy and can thus be slippery in wet weather. But, like the saying goes: "Feel the fear and do it anyway."
Dettifoss is the largest of a series of waterfalls in the Jökulsá river. A little downriver you will find Hafragilsfoss, smaller indeed but just as geologically interesting. A little further upriver there is Selfoss, a nice place to sit down and contemplate after the whirling (and rather wet) experience of Dettifoss.
Dettifoss is often listed as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Europe
Dettifoss is easily accessible from the Ring Road
You will be able to spot Dettifoss a mile away, spraying its waters high up in the atmosphere, thus creating a rainbow bridge across the fall. Dettifoss is easily accessible from both the east side and the west side of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. When driving on the Ring Road in Iceland coming from the east you can thus either choose road 864 or road 862. The main parking lot for Dettifoss in on the west side and an asphalt road. Road 864 is a gravel road and often in a rather bad condition.