#river

There are probably few cities in the world that have a river running through its districts.  Let alone a river where people can go fishing and catch a salmon.  But in Reykjavík the capital of Iceland you will find a river running through a beautiful valley Elliðarárdalur. The river has its origin in the two square kilometer lake Elliðavatn.  The lake is quite shallow as most of it is only 1 meter in depth. The valley is a great place to take two to three hours to hike.

Kermóaafoss, the largest and most exciting waterfall in Elliðaárdalur

 

If you are traveling the Ring Road in Iceland, you are probably interested in all the natural wonders and attractions worth seeing.  Since there are many waterfalls in Iceland along the way near the Ring Road, some get more attention than others.  Stjórnarfoss waterfall is one of the hidden and seldom visited although a beautiful place and sight not far from the main road.  The waterfall is quite beautiful, and consists of two approximately 15 meter fall on an upper and lower tier. The higher one lives in the shade of the lower one as it is only visible from quite a distance. The lower one is quite spectacular as it spreads out on the lower tier.  The fall is part of the river Stjórn that originates in the mountain Geirlandshraun near the road to Lakagígar craters and Laki mountain. It is one of the rivers you cross when driving to Laki.

A perfect place for picnic and camping

If you enjoy the sounds of nature like the sound of a stream or a sound of water falling down a slope, you should consider visiting Stjórnarfoss.  The area around the waterfall is quite scenic, pleasant and perfect for a picnic.  If you have your own food and snacks on your Ring Road tour, this is a nice stop.  It is also a good place to camp and usually less crowded than many other camping sites along the southern part of the Ring Road. If you have a tent it is a great place to overnight if you want the sound of the stream and waterfall to put you to sleep.

Easily accessible and near the Ring Road

When you are on the Ring Road by the small village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, you take a turn north on the roundabout.  This turn takes you to Road Nr. 203, Geirland road.  You only need to drive about two kilometers to the camping site Kleifar. Here you have a good parking space, and it is only a short walk to the waterfall.  But once you arrive at the lower tier you can not see the upper one.

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Below is the location of Stjórnarfoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Stjórnarfoss waterfall

 

In some unexpected places in Iceland, you can find a small spot that sticks out, even a small oasis.  One of these locations is Fossabrekkur near the turn to Fjallabaksleið Nyrðri and Dómadalsleið Highland road where two small rivers meet by the source of the river Rangá.  It is located at the root of the volcano Hekla not far from the waterfalls Tröllkonuhlaup.  The area is a vast spread of sand and volcanic ash with some creeks and rivers.  In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.  What makes it interesting is the beauty of this small spot.   At a small slope by the river, a collection of vegetation has found roots around a few small waterfalls leaking down the slope. Like many waterfalls in a horizontal position, not like Klifbrekkufossar in the East and Dynjandi at the Westfjords where the many waterfalls are in a vertical position.  And this is what makes it so interesting, the vegetation and the clear water.  On a good day, the blue sky only enhances the beauty and calmness of this spectacular place.

It is a good idea to stop at Fossabrekkur in summer

Although someone put a sign on the road pointing to this interesting place doesn’t mean that it is always interesting.  We can only recommend that you visit this place from the beginning of June until the end of August.  It is not a place you want to visit during winter even though some of the nearby places like Þjófafoss can be interesting during winter.  This is also a great place to stop for a picnic if you are driving to Landmannalaugar or starting your journey through the North Fjallabak road.

How to drive to Fossabrekkur

The road is more or less the same from Reykjavík as driving to the start of Landmannaleið or Nyrðri Fjallabak. When you drive from Reykjavík you look out for the road Landvegur Nr. 26 after you pass the bridge on the mighty river Þjórsá on the Ring Road Nr. 1.  You need to drive approximately 50 kilometers north, and by the mountain Búrfell, you will find the sign to Fossabrekkur.   When you have made your stop it is recommended to go on F225 and continue on Landmannaleið and along the way you can stop at some fascinating places like Rauðifoss, Ljótipollur and of course Landmannalaugar.  But remember that for this road we recommend a good 4X4 vehicle. 

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Below is the location of Fossabrekkur on the map of Iceland

In the middle of nowhere as it seems, you will find this refreshing oasis, Fossabrekkur.

Every river and every creek have some beginning, a source.  Often the source is hidden under a glacier, in a lake or a ground spread over vast moorland.  But sometimes you can actually see the source floating from a slope of a mountain or running from under a lava field.  It is always a fascinating sight. But occasionally you can find a place where clear, clean, beautiful water is flowing from below as a spring and feeding a creek or a river.  This is the case in Rauðufossafjöll and the small river Rauðufossakvísl. 

The beautiful spring at Rauðufossafjöll

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.  And even when you look through the surface it looks even more mystical and strange, as the hole in the spring gives you this creepy feeling that someone is livening in the hole. Possibly a Gollum like creature that will crawl to the surface, only adding to the magic of nature.  It is a stunning sight. Adding to the sight and mystical nature of the spring is the red bottom of the floating water, the river Rauðufossakvísl that runs from the source.  The bottom is orange and almost or red at the first three to four hundred meters, which is very unusual.  This is truly one of a fascinating phenomenon in the Icelandic landscape.

Take great care and caution in this sensitive area

But there is a warning if you intend to find and visit Rauðufossafjöll.  It is a natural phenomenon, and a treasure only intended for viewing. And it is only possible to visit this place from the end of June until the middle of September.  At other times the surrounding area is more or less covered with snow and extremely difficult to visit.  The river leading to Rauðfoss (Which also has a red background) has a highly sensitive surrounding and vegetation, so walking by the river is a bad idea.  There is enough room on the banks and the land a bit higher, and from there the river is a joy to view with its odd color and the noon green dýjamosi Moss all the way from the waterfall to the source.  So be careful and enjoy from a distance. 

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Below is the location of Rauðufossafjöll on the map of Iceland

At Rauðufossafjöll you will find one of these sources, one of those rare springs, forming this beautiful pound.

 

Although Rjúkandi is one of only a few waterfalls you can see from the Ring Road in Iceland (Road nr. 1), many visitors do not stop by Rjúkandi or tend to stop by that waterfall.  One reason is the fact that along the way at Lower Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region between Egilsstaðir and Akureyri there are many “road side” waterfalls running down the slopes.  Rjúkandi just seems like one of many if you don’t take the time to walk the short path to view this beautiful attraction.  The waterfall Rjúkandi is a lovely waterfall and most defiantly a place to stop by.

Take the short path to the Rjúkandi Waterfall

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region; some attractions that are yet to be discovered.  Attractions like Stuðlafoss and Stuðlagil are places you should also consider. Through the valley lies the magnificent river Jökulsá á Brú that used to be a large glacial river running through the many small gorges hidden in the old Jökusá á Brú long canyon. Ysta Rjúkandi river is a spring fed river, one of many that today feed the beautiful river in the canyon after the glacial river was moved to Fljótsdalur valley in a massive dam project at Kárahnúkar.

On the Ring Road in Iceland just before you hit Skjödólfsstaðir

The waterfall Rjúkandi in the Eastern Region in only less than hour away from Egilsstaðir on the Ring Road nr. 1 in Iceland.  You can stop by the parking lot, and the walk up to the waterfall takes a few minutes. The parking lot is located by the road just before you reach the farm, restaurant, and accommodation at Skjöldólfsstaðir.  You also get a great view at the viewing panel in front of the waterfall, to the Jökuldalur valley.   If you want to get a view of the upper and lower waterfall you can climb a bit up the slopes. 

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Below is the location of Rjúkandi waterfall on the map of Iceland

Rjúkandi is part of a stunning landscape at Jökuldalur valley in the Eastern Region
Apr 21 2017

Iceland has hundreds of rivers and probably thousands of creeks brooks and streams.  It is a country of water and has more water recourses than most other countries, both cold and hot water.

Two rivers side by side in Jökulsárgljúfur - glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and the smaller spring-fed Brandslækur creek

When you are driving the roads in Iceland, you can't avoid the feeling that you are on a long scenic drive journey. Sometimes on a road trip in almost any region, it feels like you are in a landscape painting.  It doesn't matter whether you are on the Ring Road or any other road in the countryside. On a bright and sunny summer day, the landscape seems to call out for attention everywhere. Mountains, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, volcanos, fascinating animals and beautiful small villages with clear blue skies in the background. 

Take care when stepping out of the car

Although you are not places near a specific natural wonder or some well-known tourist attraction you often come across a place in the landscape that urges you to stop.  One such place is the river/waterfall Fossálar. Fortunately, there is a small parking space on the south side of the road so you can park there.  But keep in mind that it is very dangerous to stop a vehicle anywhere on the shoulder of the road and rush out, to take a photo, view the landscape or try to pet a horse or a cow by a fence. Another car can appear on a short notice and both the driver and people standing, walking or running on the road are in immediate danger.

Park your car in a parking lot, and you will enjoy Fossálar

If you park at the small parking space and walk with caution to the other side, you are in for a treat as the flowing water in this part of the river is gorgeous and the place peaceful despite the fact that the Ring Road is only a few meters away. Trout fishing is allowed by permission in the river, and it is a courtesy to be extra cautious when someone is fishing and avoid getting too close to the riverbank or the river.

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Below is the location of Fossálar on the map of Iceland

Fossálar waterfall/river

 

Stakkholtsgjá or Stakkholts Canyon is a beautiful natural wonder, a canyon in Þórsmörk in the Icelandic Highland. From the entrance of the canyon, it is surrounded by high and straight one hundred meters high palagonite cliffs.  Hiking the two kilometers to the end of the canyon is one of the most rewarding short hiking trails in Iceland.  Inside the canyon is a small creek that runs on a bed of pebbles, enhancing the landscape within the canyon. The track is not smooth and crossing the river, that can at times be quite high in volume, takes caution. But on the other hand, it is not a particularly tough hike. The palagonite cliffs have many forms, suspicious caves, shelves with vegetation and deep and narrow ravines, to name a few.  Once inside the canyon you will experience a remarkable peace that embraces your thoughts and you simply can't avoid thinking of creatures from other dimensions. It is an exotic place as the canyon narrows, and you approach the bottom, turning into a very high cave open at the top, at the end of your track. In the cave, the water falls like a dreamlike shower with both light and drizzle falling on your face as you look up.  It is one of those phenomenon in the landscape, in nature, where your mood and feelings change while walking, viewing and experiencing.  

Stakkholtsgjá is a perfect place to take kids

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is a natural wonder that plays with your mind and imagination.  It is not merely a beautiful place but a place that starts all kind of ideas in your head, even at the entrance.  You can't help thinking if this is one of those places where elves live and as you get deeper into the canyon if there might be creatures living there up in the cliffs, less attractive.  A picture of a troll climbing into one of those caves might pop up in your mind.  This is one reason why Stakkholtsgjá is an excellent place to take kids, especially energetic kids with lively imagination.  It is one of those places Icelanders have loved and visited for many decades and just perfect for families to hike. 

Access to Stakkholtsgjá is a bit difficult and requires a full-size 4WD vehicle

Access to Stakholtsgjá is not simple.  It requires a 4X4 vehicle of the larger kind.  From the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the south you turn north on Road Nr. 249, the same turn you take to see Seljalandsfoss and the road that takes you to Þórsmörk. When you continue on Road Nr. 249 you quickly enter the mountain road F249 that is both rough and requires river crossing. Done correctly and with caution, it is a major adventure to visit Stakkholtsgjá in Þórsmörk.  

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Below is the location of Stakkholtsgjá canyon on the map of Iceland

The palagonite cliffs in Stakkholtsgjá in Þórsmörk have many forms

 

The waterfall Þjófafoss is part of the Þjórsá river that stretches from the Icelandic Highland all the way to the south shore in the Southern Region in Iceland.  It is the longest river in Iceland 230 kilometers from Bergvatnskvísl the northernmost source at Srengisandur.  According to folklore and history, the waterfall got its name from practice in the old judiciary system in Iceland, as thieves were thrown into the waterfall to finish their sentence. Almost without exception, none have ever been seen again. The waterfall is south of the beautiful mountain Búrfell. The river is a "tamed beast" as the water flow is controlled and supervised by Landsvirkjun, the main producer electricity in Iceland. As a consequence sometimes the river dries up, and the powerful waterfall almost disappears. A bit strange, but would probably have been welcomed by some of the criminals who were thrown into the waterfall ages ago.

We recommend the south side

The waterfall is accessible from both sides although there is a considerable distance between access to the north side and the south side as it is impossible to cross the river by the waterfall.  Access to view the waterfall Þjófafoss the south side is easier and also more impressive.  For those interested in photography having the mountain Búrefell as a background is also more impressive than the flatland background from the northern side. But then again you need to view the waterfall when the water is not being utilized by the power company.

Access is quite easy

If you are driving on the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the southern region in Iceland you take a turn on Landvegur Road Nr. 26 between Selfoss town and the village of Hella. You drive approximately 45 kilometers north, and you will see a sign for Þjófafoss waterfall.  The drive to the parking lot by the waterfall is about 4 kilometers. 

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Below is the location of Þjófafoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

The waterfall Þjófafoss - thjofafoss - is part of the Þjórsá river

 

The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur is one of the most spectacular and stunning natural wonders in Iceland. The canyon is usually underrated as it is in the northeastern region of Iceland, almost as far as possible from the capital Reykjavík.  But also to being a great place to visit it is furthermore the home of many other spectacular attractions, like waterfalls and places you won't see anywhere else in Iceland or on the planet for that matter.  Although the waterfall Dettifoss is the big attraction in Jökulsárgljúfur, there is another beautiful waterfall Hafragilsfoss a short distance north of Dettifoss in Jökulsárgljúfur.  Although not in a walking distance the drive is quite short.

A great place to view Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

The waterfall Hafragilsfoss is one of the spectacular waterfalls in the mighty river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The river is one of the largest and most powerful rivers in Iceland and an inseparable part of the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur. The falls approximately 30 meters high and about 90 meters wide is surrounded by cliffs.  Proximity to the waterfall is quite steep on the west side and not so convenient on the east side either, so a telephoto lens is recommended if you want to take a closeup photo.  In addition to being a great waterfall the parking lot for Hafragilsfoss and the path to the panel, is also one of the best places to view the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur.  You can see the canyon almost all the way south to Dettifoss and also north where you have a view of part of Hólmatungur.

Access is quite easy

Like most of the Jökulsárgljúfur and the Natural wonders in the canyon, we recommend highly viewing it from the east side. Although the road is a bit more challenging and a gravel road the view to Hafragilsfoss and the parking lot on the east side is much more impressive. So if you are coming from Myvatn lake on the Ring Road Nr. 1 you must go over the bridge on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum and take a turn left almost immediately after you pass the bridge north on Road Nr. 864 Hólsfjallavegur. The parking lot by Hafragilsfoss is about 32 kilometers drive.

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Below is the location of Hafragilsfoss waterfall on the map of Iceland

Hafragilsfoss waterfall in Jökulsárgljúfur

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