Jökulsárgljúfur is a canyon in Iceland that was once its own national park; now, it is part of the greater Vatnajökull National Park. This ravine is best known for holding spectacular waterfalls.
Explore this region on a self drive tour in Iceland.
Jökulsárgljúfur canyon is best known for being home to the most powerful waterfall in Europe, the almighty Dettifoss. With a water flow of 183 cubic metres (1970 cubic feet) per second, it is awe-inspiring, throwing off great plumes of mist and drenching those who get too close. Besides its strength, it is impressive in terms of its scale; the falls are about 100 metres (330 feet) wide, and 44 metres (144 feet) tall.
The river that Dettifoss is a part of is called the Jökulsá á Fjöllum, the second longest river in Iceland. It holds two more waterfalls within Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon. Upriver from Dettifoss is Selfoss, not to be confused with the town of the same name in south Iceland. Downriver is Hafragilsfoss.
Jökulsárgljúfur has many features that draw guests besides its waterfalls. Particularly of note is the ‘Rock of Echoes’, Hjlóðaklettur, where the lava twists into beautiful shapes and carries the sound in a mystical way. Rauðhólar, or the red mountain, is also worth visiting, due to its beautiful, vivid colouration.
Just north of Jökulsárgljúfur is Ásbyrgi. This incredible feature is a vast, horseshoe-shaped canyon, filled with verdant forest. It is so dramatic that those who believed in the Old Norse Gods thought it was created when one of the hoofs of the eight-legged horse of the god Oðin came crashing into the earth.
Jökulsárgljúfur is best visited by those staying in east Iceland, in a settlement such as Egilsstaðir, or in north Iceland, in Akureyri, Husavík or Lake Mývatn. Those travelling the Ring Road between these two destination will pass by it, and absolutely should make the detour to see it.