Haukadalur is a geothermal valley in South Iceland on the popular Golden Circle route.
Lying to the north of Lake Laugarvatn, it is home to hot springs, fumaroles, mud pots, and geysers, including the famous Great Geysir and the active Strokkur. The area is noted for the vivid coloration of its surrounding hills, caused by elements deep in the earth being brought to the surface by the geothermal activity.
Haukadalur has been mentioned in historic writings as far back as 1294, in which its geysers were described following an earthquake that activated them. Since the 18th century, it has been drawing visitors to the island including two different kings of Denmark in 1907 and 1922.
Throughout the 20th century, images of the Great Geysir erupting at Haukadular began to symbolize Iceland. Its activity, however, was unreliable, so unnatural efforts were made to stimulate it more regularly, such as lowering the water table in 1935 and pumping soap into it in 1981.
These, however, limited the geyser’s long-term activity, so that it rarely goes off today, although, in the early 2000s, it did have a period where it was spouting water over 140 meters (459 ft) high. Even so, the neighboring geyser Strokkur is still very active, erupting to heights of 30 meters (98 ft) every five to ten minutes.
Today, most of the near-two million visitors to Iceland will see Haukadalur Valley on their travels.
Haukadalur Valley is located about an hour and a half drive inland from Reykjavík, thus making many sites of the South and West easily accessible. The most notable of these are the other points on the Golden Circle: Gullfoss Waterfall (about five minutes away) and Þingvellir National Park (about forty minutes away).
It is also, however, within an easy driving distance of Flúðir, home of the Secret Lagoon, the Kjölur Highland Road, which leads into Iceland’s interior highlands, Sólheimar eco-village, and Faxi Waterfall.