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HomeIceland TravelJökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river and its superb waterfalls in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river and its superb waterfalls in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

On this travel-blog I need to present you the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum – the Glacial River within the Mountains, which is the second longest river in Iceland (206 km). 

Jökulsá á Fjöllum is a roaring, turbulent milky white/greyish glacial river coming straight from Vatnajökull, Iceland’s largest glacier, or its glacier tongue Dyngjujökull to be precise. 

On this travel-blog I’m going to indicate you what the glacial river seems like within the highland and all the best way right down to its estuary in Öxarfjörður fjord. Alongside the best way, the glacial river creates extraordinary waterfalls.

Opening picture: Jökulsá á Fjöllum and Dettifos

Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river within the highland and Gljúfrasmiður waterfall

My second picture is taken within the highland of Iceland within the neighborhood of Askja caldera and the small, however highly effective waterfall within the glacial river is named Gljúfrasmiður – the Canyon Builder.

I shot a video of Gljúfrasmiður in Jökulsá á Fjöllum in pouring rain on an outdated digital camera:

I have twice visited this space on the best way to Askja within the highland. As that is such a rugged space with glacial rivers to cross then I joined guided excursions. 

Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river is bridged in 3 locations and on our travels within the highlands of Iceland we crossed the glacial river on the bridge by Upptyppingar.  The opposite two bridges are by ring-road 1 and by the tip of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon by highway 85.

The large bridge over Jökulsá á Fjöllum 

Additional north Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river runs by one of many largest canyons in Iceland, the 25 km lengthy ruggedly lovely Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, with its lovely waterfalls and extraordinary rock formations.

Within the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, the glacial river creates probably the most highly effective waterfall in Iceland, the Dettifoss waterfall, plus a number of different smaller waterfalls

Selfoss as seen from the west financial institution

Jökulsárgljúfur canyon is my favorite canyon in Iceland and I by no means tire of mountaineering on this extraordinary canyon and in Ásbyrgi, which is my favorite spot in Iceland. Too unhealthy that it’s so removed from Reykjavík the place I stay.

Dettifoss, together with the smaller waterfalls, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss, that are south and north of Dettifoss, have been declared protected.  

Additionally, you will discover a very fairly horseshoe-shaped waterfall additional down the canyon known as Réttarfoss waterfall.


The primary waterfall within the canyon is named the Selfoss waterfall.

It’s a lovely horseshoe-shaped waterfall, 10 meters excessive and really vast. I first visited it from the west financial institution of the glacial river, but it surely can’t be seen very nicely from there.

From the east financial institution, there’s a 1.4 km hike from Dettifoss waterfall. I’ve visited Selfoss from that aspect of the river as nicely, and components of it are very rocky, nothing main although, simply put on good mountaineering footwear.

Basalt columns as seen from the west financial institution by Selfoss waterfall – do not sit or stroll too near the sting

There are some very lovely basalt columns on both sides of Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river by Selfoss. As you may see in my picture above then lots of the basalt columns have collapsed into the river, so keep away from the sides.

There’s a city in South Iceland known as Selfoss, but it surely has nothing to do with this waterfall. I’ve seen although that some individuals get confused once they come to Selfoss city and see no waterfall, as “foss” in Icelandic means a waterfall.

Dettifoss waterfall – probably the most highly effective of Iceland’s waterfalls

Dettifoss from the west financial institution

Now let’s go to Dettifoss waterfall. Dettifoss is Iceland’s strongest waterfall and it’s got the wow issue massive time. It’s 44 meters excessive and 100 meters vast and has a move of 193 m3/s. 

Dettifoss might be visited from each the east financial institution and the west financial institution of Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river and there’s a completely completely different expertise visiting it from the east financial institution than visiting it from the west financial institution. The highway to the west is paved, however the highway on the east aspect remains to be a bumpy gravel highway.

We first visited it from the west financial institution. There’s a 15-minute hike right down to the waterfall from the car parking zone on the west financial institution.

Dettifoss from the east financial institution – be further cautious right here

It’s superior standing near Dettifoss.  After I go to it I’m all the time in awe of how highly effective it truly is. I get a sense of unreality standing so near such forces of nature.

There may be numerous mist on the west financial institution so one is certain to get moist when standing so near this highly effective waterfall.

Visiting Dettifoss from the east financial institution

We additionally visited Dettifoss from the east financial institution. There you may stand even nearer to the mammoth roaring falls.

There are not any guardrails right here, though some ropes have been put up within the final couple of years, so let’s be very cautious right here. 

Here’s a quick video of Dettifoss I shot from the east financial institution simply with the intention to hear it roaring and see the large mist:

A few hundred meters under Dettifoss waterfall you will discover Hafragilsfoss waterfall.

Hafragilsfoss can be a lovely waterfall, much less visited than Dettifoss.

Hafragilsfoss waterfall 

Hafragilsfoss from the west financial institution

Hafragilsfoss waterfall is 27 meters excessive and 91 meters vast. 

This a part of the canyon is named Hafragilsundirlendi and it’s so lovely

Right here the canyon is 100 meters deep. The picture above exhibits you the waterfall from the west aspect.

Hafragilsundirlendi from the east financial institution

There are a number of freshwater springs right here creating beautiful small waterfalls that run into the glacial river.​

And the place the freshwater meets the ice-cold gray glacial water probably the most lovely aquamarine color seems.

I visited the east financial institution by myself however have joined a guided tour with a cease on the west financial institution.

I’ve written about that tour in my travel-blog the Spectacular Diamond Circle in North Iceland.

Hafragilsundirlendi from the west financial institution – right here freshwater rivers meet Jökulsá á Fjöllum

The identify Hafragilsfoss means Buck Canyon fall. Based on folklore, a giantess took 2 bucks in Öxarfjörður fjord, north of Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, the place Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river ends its course and joins the ocean.

She took these bucks to feed a shepherd she had kidnapped.

The giantess tied the bucks collectively by their horns, threw them up on her shoulder, and jumped over the glacial river on this spot.

She sat right down to relaxation and let the bucks graze – this spot has since that point been known as Hafragil – Buck gorge.

  Hafragilsfoss as seen from the east financial institution

There may be one other folklore that tells us that Grettir sterki – Grettir the Sturdy did this leap, however certainly one of his lairs, Grettisbæli, might be present in Vígabjarg by Forvöð a bit of additional in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon.

Hafragilsfoss waterfall has obtained an enormous mist/spray and I generally consult with it as mini-Dettifoss. From each the west financial institution and the east financial institution you should have a fantastic view of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.

The picture above is from the east aspect. I additionally took a video of Hafragilsfoss waterfall once I visited the west aspect:

From the west financial institution, you’ve got a implausible view of what I wish to name an elf church.

Do not you agree with me on this – would not the basalt-column rock in my picture under look identical to an elf church?

We now have obtained many tales of encounters with the elves – hidden individuals – of Iceland and many individuals have seen them by the ages enter rocks that may have been their church buildings or their habitations.

Photograph shot from the west financial institution

I’ve written many travel-blogs concerning the habitations and church buildings of the elves. However I’ve not been capable of finding any folklore concerning the elves for this explicit rock, however wish to imagine that one exists 🙂

Forvöð and Réttarfoss waterfall

Réttarfoss from the east financial institution

One other lovely location in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon is Forvöð and Réttarfoss waterfall the place you may attain the waterfall from the east aspect.

By Forvöð in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, there’s an hour’s hike right down to a horseshoe-shaped waterfall known as Réttarfoss waterfall.

It is a very fascinating hike with a lot of lovely, basalt column formations and historic sights, f.ex. one of many Grettisbæli – the Lair of Grettir the Sturdy – is to be discovered at Forvöð. 
Grettisbæli – the Lair of Grettir the Sturdy in Vígabjarg in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

You too can go to Hólmatungur from the west aspect which is a panoramic space, which has develop into certainly one of my favorite areas in Iceland.

From there you may hike up the small mountain Ytra-Þórunnarfjall and see the Réttarfoss waterfall from above.
​Réttarfoss waterfall from the west financial institution

The hike begins from the car parking zone at Hólmatungur and is comparatively straightforward, a path will take you up the small mountain and you then stroll on the sting of the canyon. It’s nicely value together with it in your go to to Hólmatungur.


A anonymous waterfall in Hólmatungur merges with Jökulsá á Fjöllum

Jökulsá á Fjöllum then runs by the attractive Hólmatungur. That is only a quick preview of Hólmatungur, however I’ll write extra in one other travel-blog. This space is so breathtaking, that I need to dedicate a particular travel-blog to it.

Above is among the fairly sights by Jökulsá á Fjöllum, however many small rivers and creeks cascade superbly into Jökulsá á Fjöllum and add to the quantity of this large glacial river on its method to the ocean.

This waterfall might be seen from Katlar in Hólmatungur.

The ruggedly lovely Jökulsárgljúfur canyon – Réttarbjarg within the distance

Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river ran in 2 river beds and in 1920 it began working into the west river mattress solely with nice pressure, however that river mattress was once the smaller one of many two branches of the glacial river.

My husband took this video of the spot the place the large Vígabjargsfoss waterfall used to cascade from the cliffs.

Thus it stopped working into the east river mattress the place the forceful glacial river had created the large Vígabergsfoss/Vígabjargsfoss.

The one water that’s left in that spot is the clear floor water from a creek coming from under Réttarbjarg cliff. (Ref. Jökulsárgljúfur by Sigrún Helgadóttir).

The attractive oasis Hólmatungur in Jökulsárgljúfur canyon

A stunning hike, which has now develop into certainly one of my favorite hikes in Iceland, takes you from Hólmatungur to Hólmárfossar waterfalls, which cascade superbly into Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river.

You’ll be able to both hike by the sting of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon or by a lovely river additional up. I like that hike and can add a particular travel-blog about this hike. 

I took many movies of Hólmárfossar waterfalls, they only took my breath away 🙂

The video is taken from the south aspect of Hólmárfossar waterfalls and for those who stroll additional on by the river Stallar, which can be a lovely hike, you attain a ford within the river the place the hike continues up on prime of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and additional on to Hljóðaklettar – the Echo cliffs.

I handed the ford as I wished to see the place the river Stallar merged with Jökulsá á Fjöllum. I took a video on that spot:

Right here Jökulsá á Fjöllum is getting more and more extra forceful with all of the smaller rivers merging with it. 

There are numerous different smaller waterfalls that run into Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river earlier than the river reaches the fairytale-like a part of the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon known as Hljóðaklettar or Echo Rocks.  

Hljóðaklettar – Echo Rocks

Jökulsá á Fjöllum and Hljóðaklettar

Hljóðaklettar is a cluster of columnar rock formations creating all types of figures.

It’s like getting into one other world, in my view.

These unusual rock formations a lot of which stand by the Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river, are what’s left of erupting volcanos some 9,000 years in the past.  Skuggi – the Shadow in Hljóðaklettar

These volcanic plugs have been eroded by the centuries by the forceful currents of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river. Catastrophic floods in Jökulsá á Fjöllum washed the volcanic materials away, creating this fairytale world for us to go to.
There are a number of breathtaking hikes in Hljóðaklettar, certainly one of which takes you on a hike amongst superb basalt column formations and to the large cave known as the Church.

The two trolls have been too late to succeed in their cave and have been became stone by Jökulsá á Fjöllum

I’ll solely present you just a few images from this ruggedly lovely place, as my travel-blog is concerning the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum which runs within the canyon and passes Hljóðaklettar.

One of many hikes takes you right down to the glacial river the place you may pay a go to to Karl and Kerling, the 2 trolls who have been out partying at evening and did not attain their collapse time.

You’ll be able to see how large these trolls are by Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river when you stand by them

However as we Icelanders know then the evening trolls (nátttröll) can not tolerate daylight and are became stone in the event that they see the primary rays of the solar 😉

Often while you see a troll couple in Iceland, then the Kerling (the Giantess) is greater than the Karl (the Large or Troll). However right here in Hljóðaklettar, I’ve learn that the male Troll is greater than the feminine Troll.

It’s nicely value visiting the trolls if solely to face subsequent to the large glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum.

By Rauðhólar – the Crimson Hills by Jökulsá á Fjöllum

You too can hike to Rauðhólar when you have sufficient time to spare right here at Hljóðaklettar. That hike will take you a bit additional than Hljóðaklettar and it’s a should in my view.

At Rauðhólar you’ll f.ex. see these two pink pillars, which I discover superb. They appear like they’re from one other planet.

From right here you’ve got probably the most superb view of Hljóðaklettar and Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river from above.

Additional north is my favorite place in Iceland, the attractive horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi. It’s believed that Jökulsá á Fjöllum ran by Ásbyrgi, however modified its course and now runs east of it.

A bit of bit additional north is one other bridge over the river on highway 85 and from there, you may see how the glacial river Jökulsá á Fjöllum runs its course in Öxarfjörður fjord after travelling for 206 km.

​I assume that you simply perceive now why the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon is my favorite canyon in Iceland and that I by no means tire of visiting it 🙂

Jökulsá á Fjöllum glacial river

Highway 862 on the west financial institution is now paved all the best way. It was once paved to Dettifoss solely, however in the summertime and autumn of 2020, the unhealthy gravel was lastly paved, all the best way right down to highway 85.

Highway 864 on the east financial institution is a foul gravel highway all the best way to highway 85.

It is a summer season go to solely except you be a part of a guided tour

Have a stunning time within the magnificent Jökulsárgljúfur canyon 🙂



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