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Stakkholtsgjá Canyon: A Nature Lover’s Paradise

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is definitely for those with a special appreciation for nature. Visiting this incredible place will leave you awestruck at what Mother Nature can conjure up. And although it’s a favorite among avid hikers, this shouldn’t deter those who don’t consider themselves the most active among us. The trail is easy and suitable for most ages.

If you would like to know more about this spectacular canyon in Iceland or would like to plan a visit to this magical place - read on. We’ll tell you everything you need to know for the Stakkholtsgjá trip of a lifetime.

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

Why Visit Stakkholtsgjá Canyon?

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is an incredible sight. It’s 2 kilometers long and cliffs of up to 100 meters towering above one covered in moss and other greenery. There are also small streams running throughout the canyon, which is expected as a journey through the canyon usually gets rewarded with a beautiful waterfall at the end.

Visiting the picturesque Stakkholtsgjá Canyon truly feels other-worldly. It’s easy to imagine it being one of the locations of epic movies such as Lord of the Rings (probably why it actually was featured in the famous fantasy series, Game of Thrones).

Location and Accessibility: Where is Stakkholtsgjá Canyon in Iceland?

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon can be found in the southern part of the Icelandic Highlands, near Thorsmork Nature Reserve. It’s about 155 kilometers from the capital city of Reykjavík (which equates to a little more than a 2.5-hour drive).

So, it’s possible to make the canyon a day outing during our summer months, where you’ll have plenty of daylight hours to work with. But since the canyon is also very close to our popular Ring Road route, many simply add it as a stop along their road trip around the country.

Where is Stakkholtsgjá Canyon in Iceland?

How to Get to Stakkholtsgjá Canyon in Iceland

You can visit Stakkholtsgjá Canyon in one of two ways:

Via a Tour

Although you will find some tour operators and local guides offering Stakkholtsgjá as a destination on one of their existing tour packages, you’ll more than likely have to organize a customized private tour with them since the canyon is considered off the beaten track.

Via a Self-drive

This is the easiest and most convenient way to get to Stakkholtsgjá and the most obvious way to do a road trip around the island. Driving to Stakkholtsgjá from the direction of Reykjavík is also pretty easy, but please note that you will need a 4x4 vehicle to drive the entire route, and you’ll need someone with some proper 4x4 experience underneath their belt once you hit the F-road with its river crossings.

To start, drive south on the Ring Road towards Route 249. You will find the turn-off to Route 249 heading to Thorsmork right next to Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. If you continue on this road, it will turn into the F249 (which you are legally required to drive with a 4x4 in Iceland). After a bit of a bumpy ride and a few river crossings, you’ll arrive at the canyon. 

Unveiling the Beauty of Stakkholtsgjá Canyon: its Geological Formation

The streams that still run through the canyon today give you a clue as to the geological formation of Stakkholtsgjá. The canyon is the result of thousands and thousands of years of erosion caused by rivers and glacial flooding, as they carved their way through the earth. Most of our glacial floods here in Iceland are also caused by the volcanic activity on the island, as eruptions cause our glaciers to melt.

Hiking Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

As we already mentioned, Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is the go-to for avid hikers, but this doesn’t mean that the canyon is only reserved for the fitness and outdoor elite. Here’s what to expect from a hike in the canyon:

The Stakkholtsgjá Canyon Trail Information

The Stakkholtsgjá hike is an out-and-back trail totaling about 3 kilometers and starts at the entrance to Thorsmork Valley on the F249. The trail is not considered very challenging or tough and is suitable for most ages.

The only thing to remember is that there are a couple of streams to cross, and the wet rocks can be slippery, almost guaranteeing a slip into the icy water every once in a while (so remember to wear waterproof clothing and hiking boots!). For this reason, only, you’ll need to think twice if you have any elderly in your party, and you’ll need to be prepared to carry smaller kids across (although they are bound to enjoy the excitement of it).

The Stakkholtsgjá Canyon Trail

Highlights of the Hike

There are a number of things one can look forward to on your hike through Stakkholtsgjá Canyon. There are moss-covered Palagonite Cliffs with shelves of vegetation, all sorts of bird species nesting along the cliffs, ravines, caves, and, ultimately, the waterfall at the end of the trail.

When is the Best Time to Visit Stakkholtsgjá Canyon?

Although Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is technically open to the public all year round, as a hiker’s paradise and outdoor adventure, it is one attraction you should rather visit during the warmer months of the year, especially during our summer months of June to August. This way, you’ll have plenty of daylight hours to explore the area and enjoy the mildest and warmest weather in Iceland.

Other Things to Do Near Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon is just the beginning of all the interesting things to see and do in the area. Here are a few other things you can consider adding to your trip itinerary:

  • Thorsmork Nature Reserve

  • The famous Fimmvörduhals Hike

  • Exploring Eyjafjallajökull Glacier via Super Jeep

  • Riding snowmobiles across the Eyjafjallajökull Glacier

  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

  • Gljufrabui Waterfall

  • The famous Laugavegur Hike

  • Landmannalaugar

Stakkholtsgjá Canyon: Making it a Stop On Your Ring Road Road Trip

If you want to properly explore the island and everything it has to offer, including Stakkholtsgjá Canyon, the best way to do that is via a road trip. So rent a car in Iceland upon arrival and then hit the road. Truly immerse yourself in the Icelandic landscape, cruise along our beautiful fjords, and enjoy our various attractions, such as Stakkholtsgjá, along the way.



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