Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Pjt56
Drekagil is a canyon located in North Iceland. Its name translates to Dragon Gully, due to the impressive, twisted lava formations that define it.
Drekagil is a beautiful feature that, in spite of its proximity to the capital of the north, Akureyri, is often overlooked by travelers. It is renowned as one of Iceland’s fairytale locations, with dramatic lava fields, bizarre basalt formations, barren landscapes, and hidden gems far from the crowds.
The valley has recently gained some awareness due to the fact that NASA used it to conduct research for their 2020 Mars mission. Drekagil’s rocky, inhospitable terrain makes it a perfect place to simulate navigating a rover across the surface of the Red Planet.
Drekagil is also notable for being part of the Dyngjufjöll mountain range, which is home to the nearby Askja volcano. This volcano erupted to disastrous effect in 1875, producing an ash cloud that impacted places as far away as Poland. The devastation of livestock and crops caused a wave of emigration from Iceland, as well as many deaths.
The most popular activity at Drekagil is a hike up the canyon, which leads to a hidden waterfall few visitors get to see. This feature, however, is only accessible when the river’s water is low enough to cross. In the rare circumstance that the conditions seem unsafe, visitors should always err on the side of caution.
Drekagil is only accessible in the summer, and only in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. You must drive along the F88 to a road called Öskjuvegur, and follow that until you reach the F910; along this route, you will find the canyon. F-Roads are highland trails, so expect bumpy conditions.
There are several services at Drekagil, including an information centre, well-maintained bathrooms, a campsite and two cabins which can accommodate up to 60 people. Note that there are not any shops, so be sure to bring food and water along with you.