Iceland, as we all know is famous for its active volcanoes, geysers and extremely attractive tourist hot springs, covers only five national parks. Although their number is not record, one of them is the largest in Europe. The way Iceland protects its nature reserves differs from the rest of the Old Continent, as glaciers cover most of their area. You cannot compare the landscapes here to any other on Earth, you just need to see them with your own eyes! One of them is the topic of this Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park article.
Northland’s protected nature reserve is situated around the Glacier River from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum Mountains. The most popular natural attractions of the Jökulsárgljúfur reserve are two powerful waterfalls – Dettifoss and Hafragilsfoss, two kilometers apart. Along the stream of water is a well-marked tourist trail, although it is best to get to the lookout point, where an amazing panorama spreads.
Do not miss...
By visiting the Jökulsárgljúfur National Park, you cannot miss the Ásbyrga gorge, created by the interaction of three very strong glacial shifts and the eruption of the Kverkfjöll and Bárðarbunga volcanoes. According to the Nordic mythology, the jar has developed quite differently. In the past the Icelanders believed that the octopus belonging to the God of Odin imprinted his hoof here. As befits the divine mount was gigantic and one of his eight legs left a hoof image, creating a giant canyon full of basalt rocks. Hence, the name of the horseshoe-like ravine is still used today. Ashbyr means the Odin’s Footprint.
According to a geological survey we checked for this Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park post, the park obtained its current shape as a result of three particularly strong glacial shifts more than 2,500 years ago. That occurred after the eruptions of the Vatnajökull glaciers of Kverkfjöll and Bárðarbunga volcanoes.
Facilities in the Park
Its nature dwells far from the civilization and therefore it has no infrastructure. There are two campsites here. There is a large one straight at the entrance to the gorge and smaller one in the depths. You are also able to find here the gas station with a very well equipped shop.
How to get there
We created this Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park to provide you not only geological information but also some tips. Here is how to get to the park:
It is rather easy, as long as you have a 4wd vehicle. You can reach Ásbyrgi via gravel road 864 leading from Ring Road to Skinnastaður. The road is narrow, and the surface, irregular. That is why it is good to have a 4×4 car. In case you drive an off-road, jeep vehicle, you can alternatively take a route from Lake Mývatn to the other side of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum, even less comfortable by the F862. Whatever route you choose, you must stop at both waterways Selfoss, Dettifoss and Hafragilsfoss.
Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park
The Asbyrgi canyon in its shape looks like a horseshoe. Its length is 3.5 kilometres and 1-kilometre-wide, rocks walls of up to 10 meters high surround the park. There is here one of the few birch trees forest which makes it a great tourist attraction. This type of trees has chance to develop here due to the location. It is between the walls of the gorge and a good watering of the area.
In 2014 there were fears of the devastation of this unusually beautiful place as a result of the eruption of the Badarbunga volcano. Hopefully nothing like that happened and we can still enjoy the beauty and the uniqueness.
At the end of the gorge about 100 meters from the parking, you can find a small Bornstjorn pond surrounded by lush vegetation inhabited by duck-friendly tourists. They are approachable and calm. From here there is a magnificent view of the entire canyon. In the centre of Asbyrgi National Park you can see a rock formation called Eyjan rising up to twenty-five meters. While writing this Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park post, we thought it was something worth checking.
Asbyrgi National Park is definitely a must see on your list when visiting Iceland. It’s beauty and exceptional vegetation and amazing views will leave an indelible memory! We wrote this Nature of Iceland – Asbyrgi National Park because we knew this would be a place you will gladly return you in the future and not only in your dreams.