Studlagil Canyon is exactly what the name suggests, but few (unless you speak Icelandic) can understand it. So, before you chalk it up to being “just another boring canyon”, read on.
In this article, you’ll get to learn just what makes Studlagil in Iceland so unique, and why many consider it a must-visit site to include on your trip itinerary. You’ll also learn all the nitty-gritty as to how to get there, what else you can do in the area, as well as where to stay over if you want to experience everything Studlagil and the area has to offer.
What is Studlagil Canyon?
If your first guess is a canyon, you’d be halfway correct. The name Studlagil Canyon means ‘Basalt column canyon’, and is very descriptive of what to expect. The canyon has huge basalt column cliffs and other weird and wonderful Basal rock formations that can really get the imagination going. Here you not only get to enjoy a hike but also have a pretty amazing view whilst doing it.
Where is Studlagil in Iceland?
Studlagil Canyon can be found in East Iceland. If you are thinking of tackling a visit to Studlagil as a day trip, you’ll have to do it from Egilsstadir (which is just 72 kilometers away).
It’s too far from Reykjavík (210 kilometers), and Akureyri (597 kilometers) to even attempt this as a day trip from there. Alternatively, you can consider adding Studlagil to your Ring Road road trip as a stop.
History of Studlagil Canyon
The Studlagil Canyon has an interesting history, since no one knew that it existed till a few years ago. That’s because the entire canyon with all its Basalt cliffs and interesting rock formations was completely submerged underneath the water of the River Jökla. The Studlagil Canyon doesn’t just have the River Jökla through it today, it’s the very rascal that resulted in us finding the canyon in the first place.
When the Karahnjukavirkjun Hydroelectric Plant opened in 2009, they created the Halslon Reservoir and diverted much of the Jökla River into it. Whilst this was a pretty controversial move amongst environmentalists, it still led to the River level decreasing very drastically (to just 7-8 meters) and allowed a group of sheep herders to discover what we now know as Studlagil in 2016.
How was Studlagil Canyon Formed?
Studlagil Canyon was formed like most interesting Basalt attractions here on the Land of Fire and Ice was; by volcanic eruptions and glacial floods. The Basalt cliffs and rock formations are essentially lava that cooled down slowly over time after an eruption, making it shrink, crack, and form all sorts of interesting hexagonal patterns.
What is the Geology of Studlagil Canyon?
As we already mentioned, Studlagil Canyon consists of Basalt rock – from the cliffs to all sorts of weird rock formations.
Can you swim in Stuðlagil Canyon?
Absolutely not. It might look very tempting, but the river currents are incredibly strong, and it’s simply too dangerous to swim in.
Studlagil Canyon Hike
Hiking Studlagil Canyon is really a leisurely stroll in beautiful surroundings. Just keep in mind that the hiking trail can only be found on the east side of the canyon, so make sure you’re on the right side before parking. The trail is made of gravel (so wear sturdy hiking shoes), and is fairly level all the way.
That’s also why the hike is considered to be pretty easy, making it a nice outing for families (just take note that the distance might be challenging for tiny tots and the elderly). If you want to cut the hike in half, you can actually get a closer start to the canyon itself by parking at the furthest parking lot and simply starting your hike from there.
How long is the Hike to Studlagil Canyon?
The hike is 4 kilometers (one way) and should take roughly 45 minutes based on your pace. If you half the hike by starting closer to the canyon, it’ll take you about 30 minutes, which includes the time stopping at sights such as Studlafoss Waterfall.
How do You Get to Studlagil Canyon?
There are essentially two ways to reach Studlagil:
Via Guided Tour
You will find many guided tours on the island that offers Studlagil as a destination. Sometimes it’s in the form of a day tour that only goes to Studlagil, or it can be a combination tour that includes multiple attractions on the island and can range from day trips to multi-day holiday packages.
Driving yourself will always be our recommendation here on the island. It’s the best way to explore Iceland whilst remaining in full control of your time and itinerary. To reach Studlagil you’ll need to head north on the Ring Road from Egilsstadir. Drive past Guesthouse Skjoldolfsstadir, and then turn off on Road 923. After a while, you will start seeing signs for Jökuldalsvegur whereafter you will park in the parking lot.
Things to Do Near Studlagil Canyon
There are also many other things to do and see around Studlagil Canyon. Here are some you may want to consider adding to your trip itinerary:
Take a dip in the Vök Baths.
Drive along the Eastfjords from Egilsstadir to Djupivogur.
Visit Seydifjördur with its rainbow road.
Visit the East Iceland Heritage Museum.
Get handcrafted souvenirs and get up close and personal with reindeer at Klaustursel Farm.
Where to Stay Near Studlagil Canyon
With so much to do and see, it’s understandable that we recommend that you sleep over. If this is the route you’re opting for, there are a myriad of options to choose from that will suit every preference and pocket.
For the most budget-friendly stay, you can book a camping spot at Camp Egilsstadir. Or you can opt for a stay at a guesthouse such as Lyngas Guesthouse. Alternatively, and if you’re feeling like splurging a bit, you can opt for a luxury stay at a hotel such as Hotel Herad.
Studlagil Canyon; a New Old Gem in Iceland
It’s crazy to think that this giant Basalt canyon in Iceland could’ve been right under our noses for so many hundreds of years with no one ever knowing. The new discovery of this old gem here in Iceland is really incredible.
Experiencing it first-hand is almost indescribable. If you are thinking of adding Studlagil Basalt Canyon as a stop on your road trip itinerary, just plan out all the stops along the Ring Road (with overnight stays, of course), then just rent a car in Iceland and start your Ring Road adventure!