#asbyrgi

The canyon Ásbyrgi is a joy to view and a pleasure to visit.  Although a separate part of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon it is considered to be geologically a part of that canyon and made by the same catastrophic floods and eruptions some thousands of years ago. It is formed like a horseshoe and guarded by 90 to 100-meter cliffs on all sides except the northern side where the cliffs descend to the lowland.  In the middle is a cliff island of the same height that helps enhance the horseshoe form of the three and a half kilometer long and one-kilometer wide canyon. 

Made by Odins horse Sleipnir

Even though there are geological explanations, the canyon was formed by Sleipnir the eight-leg horse owned by the god Óðinn (Odin) when it put one of its hooves down to earth.  This event was documented in the Nordic mythology, ages and hundreds of years before anyone started to write about geology and geography. 

A vegetation beauty that offers peace and quiet

In the bottom of the horseshoe canyon, is a small pound, Botnstjörn, surrounded by vegetation and astonishing cliffs.  The canyon has an unusual variety of vegetation and lively birdlife during summer.  It is a great place to stay for a day or two and walk some of the convenient and not so difficult hiking trails in Ásbyrgi and also up on the cliffs that give the place such a wonderful feeling of a peaceful sanctuary. Today Ásbyrgi as well as the whole area of Jökulsárgljúfur is part of the Vatnajokull National Park and is managed by the park authorities. Part of the Jökulsárlón canyon are the magnificent waterfalls Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss, and Selfoss.  From Ásbyrgi you can also visit the remote villages of Raufarhöfn and Þórshöfn in the north east as well as whale watching at Húsavík village nearby.  All interesting places to visit.  

A great place to stay on your visit to Iceland

Ásbyrgi is easily accessible although in a considerable distance from the Ring Road or Road one in Iceland. It is located in the northeast part of Iceland and is connected to the Ring Road with Road 864, the same road that takes you to the east side of Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon and the east side of Dettifoss waterfall.  At the end of that road, you take a left turn by the bridge over the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum onto Road 85 and you can't miss it. You can also drive to Húsavík town to access the Ásbyrgi from the west side.  In Ásbyrgi is one of the best camping sites in Iceland and a great place to stay for a few days to explore and experience.

 

The canyon was formed by Sleipnir the eight-leg horse owned by the god Óðinn (Odin)

Jökulsárgljúfur or Glacial River Canyon is a 25-kilometer canyon in the northeastern part of Iceland. The canyon is two and a half kilometer wide and in many places, the height of the cliff on both sides is about one hundred meters. The canyon is a product of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum ( The Glacial River in the Mountains), a powerful river that has its source in the unstable part of Vatnajökull, Bárðarbunga. Throughout thousands of years, the river has shaped its path with water and devastating floods from the melting glacier in times of eruption. Jökulsárgljúfur is truly a natural wonder and carries with it a load of interesting places like powerful waterfalls, fantastic basalt columns formations, cliffs, pillars, unusual rocks, beautiful spring-fed rivers and a spectrum of vegetation. With all its many beautiful hiking trails and spectacular sites, it is a place where you can stay for days, and you never stop being amazed.

Is the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon still on the drawing board?

Although most of us see the natural wonders and all the beautiful products of Mother Nature as her grown up children, this is not true about many places in Iceland. Iceland is still a geologically young child and erupts here and there unexpectedly.  Just in 2015 a large eruption occurred south of Bárðarbunga, the glacier that feeds the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.  If the eruption had occurred under the glacier, which was expected while geologists mentored the origin of the earthquakes leading to the eruption, the outcome would have been catastrophic for the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. A flood from a melting glacier would possibly have changed forever all the natural wonders that we love to visit.  And we must remember that one such flood occurred only about two hundred years ago.  It is also a matter of interest that although we are looking at one of the largest canyons in Iceland, an even larger one lies buried under lava in the South Region. The canyon Skaftárgljúfur was once the largest canyon in Iceland approximately 30 kilometers long and 200 meters deep.  In the devastating eruption in Lakagígar in 1783 and the massive lava flow that came with it, the canyon disappeared forever as the canyon was filled with glowing lava. And this was only about 230 years ago, which is only a heartbeat in geological times.

Accessible from both sides and hiking is a great way to experience the Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon first hand

There are many ways to see and experience the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur.  You can see a large part of it when you visit Dettifoss the magnificent waterfall.  You can also visit Vesturdalur, which has a campsite, and there you will get a good view of Hljóðaklettar on a short and easy hiking trail from Vesturdalur. One of the best overviews is from the parking spot by Hafragilsfoss.  Here is where you truly see the scale of the canyon.  To experience the beauty of this delightful natural wonder a three to four-hour hike from Dettifoss through Hólmatungur all the way to Vesturdalur is recommended.  For a place to stay, we can highly recommend the camping site at Ásbyrgi, which is one of the best in Iceland.

 

 

Jökulsárgljúfur or Glacial River Canyon is a 25-kilometer canyon in the northeastern part of Iceland.