#dettifoss

Iceland is packed with waterfalls. So if you are a waterfall fanatic or if you just love to visit magnificent waterfalls you should take a trip to Iceland. If you travel around the country on your own time in a rent a car or a camper, you will run into a waterfall sooner than later.

10 most impressive, interesting, most beautiful stunning and best waterfalls in Iceland

One thing that Iceland doesn't lack is water.

Five “two for one waterfall” in Iceland

Selfoss waterfall is located in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region in Iceland only one kilometer south of the mighty waterfall Dettifoss. Both waterfalls are part of the natural wonders in Jökulsárgljúfur as well as the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The glacial river in the mountains. Although Selfoss has always stood in the shadow of Dettifoss it is a great construction of nature and equally as enjoying to visit. The height is only 10 meters, but the width is more than Dettifoss. And of course the visit is only half an hour hike from Dettifoss, and both waterfalls share the same parking lots, both on the east side and the west side. If you are visiting Dettifoss, be sure not to miss this beautiful waterfall.

Which side should you visit?

Not surprisingly, because there are parking lots on both sides of the river, it is common to ask the question which side is more captivating, and even which side is more beautiful. This of course is a matter of individual taste. For Selfoss, we recommend the east side of the waterfall because the amount of water and its form is more visible from that side as most of the water falls on the west side. It is also much harder to see the whole waterfall on the west side.

Access to Selfoss

Selfoss is easy to find, and it is also easy to visit although a short walk is necessary from the parking lot to the waterfall. On the Ring Road Nr. 1 in the northern region in Iceland east of Mývant we recommend that you turn on Road Nr. 864 Hólsfjallavegur.  This is a turn after you pass the bridge on the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. The Dettifossvegur Road Nr. 862 is on the west side and leads to the west side of the river and the west side of Dettifoss waterfall and Selfoss waterfall. Our recommendation is the east side.

Selfoss waterfall is located in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon in the Northern Region in Iceland

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.

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 waterfall

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. 

Nearby places

Jökulsárgljúfur - Ásbyrgi - Selfoss waterfall - Mývatn - Dimmuborgir - Námaskarð - Herðubreið - Hafragilsfoss - Goðafoss

Dettifoss is indeed powerful in volume discharge, having an average water flow of 400 m3/s during summers.